Good evening to you once again, sirs and madams, and welcome back to the blog-about.

Allow me to first say that when I signed off earlier this evening, I did not intend for us to speak again so soon. It is now approaching four o'clock, and unfortunately, although I am exceptionally tired, I find myself unable to sleep. My mind is restless, and rather than lie awake in the darkness, I have instead elected to occupy myself with scholarly pursuits, as is my way.

I have only just begun my review of the eleventh chapter, included here for your reference:

Read Chapter Eleven

I know that it is typical of me to complete my own thorough reading before I make the story available to you, my friends, but I hope you will permit me this one exception. You see, I was struck by something as I began examining this part of the document, and I could not bring myself to delay in sharing it with you.

Observe that the chapter begins with a poem by the fictitious bard Alistair “Hale” Sauterne, whose works are alluded to and interpolated throughout the “history.” In his usual style, Jonathon includes and sings the virtues of this “Ode to the Waste” only to juxtapose it against the buffoonish verse of Balek Bida for comedic effect. Let us disregard this, however, and simply consider the poem in isolation from our historian's mishandling of it. Despite its title, its status as an ode is questionable – a typical ode is long-winded (as popular examples, see Keats' “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” or Shelley's “Ode to the West Wind”), but Sauterne's musings are contained within a single eleven-line stanza, the hallmark of his non-traditional form. Further, a dangerous wasteland is a strange subject for lofty praise – and yet, it could be said that Sauterne is using his imagery to express some sort of admiration or fascination for the deep, visceral fear associated with this Waste.

In particular, the image evoked by the seventh line, “a child at the door of a dark room,” stirred something within me that I have not thought about for quite a long time. I am possessed of a memory, a time when I was very young – was I? It felt as though I was no more than six or seven years old, but now I cannot say for certain. I stood at the threshold of my bedroom, my back to the stairway. I stared into what should have been a soothing place, stared into the darkness that engulfed it and threw all of its familiar shapes and features into sinister uncertainty. Wide-eyed, I reached up for the light switch – God, I must have been young, I must have – and felt it shift into place with a click. The light did not come on. Feverishly, I flicked it up and down several times, the empty clicks echoing like gunfire. Still, the light would not come on. I stood there in the darkened doorway, feeling the plush carpet pushing against the soles of my feet, looking back and forth between my bedroom and the closed door across the hall. I had no idea what to do. And I was so afraid, and more than anything, I just wanted to shrink down into a shaking ball and cry.

As I reflect on this memory, another poem comes to mind – the first poem that I ever truly read, the first poem that I ever memorized and recited, the first poem that ever held real meaning for me at thirteen years of age, when I first fell in love with literature. I have written it out for you to read, if you so choose:

Lasciate Ogne Speranza, Voi Ch'intrate

I am a troubled man, sirs and madams, much more so than I would like to admit; I trust that you are becoming aware of this now. My associate, Sir Quincy Jones, wears his madness for the world to see, and sometimes I envy his courage, if it can indeed be called courage. Mine is a sickness that, by its nature, is not easily disclosed. Perhaps, sirs and madams, I will endeavor to share it with you – I have already begun to do so, against my better judgment. If you do not recoil in disgust or run screaming from me, as you very likely shall, you may come to understand the person that I am, and what it has been like for me to live the life that I have lived. Or, if you wisely choose to end our relationship in the interest of self-preservation, then I will not be so devastated, for I have known greater suffering. You are a faraway someone who knows me only through my words; if you are reading them, I shall never know, and if you are not, then neither of us shall feel the loss. You are no more real to me than I am to you – an acquaintance at arm's length, an illusion of intimacy, superficial and comfortable. And what we have can end at any time. The urge I feel to end it before you dare to do it yourself – that is part and parcel of my sickness, you know. Do not fear – I have not yet given in. You deserve a fair chance, just like all the others who came before you, and you shall have it.

If you like, my friends, we will continue on as we were before – I, enduring the consequences of Sir Quincy's ill-fated romp and confiding in you along the way, and you, listening and observing from a safe distance, privy to all of the gory details. Before we are through, I will show you what it is like on the edge of insanity, if this accursed adventure does not first throw me soundly over that edge.

Ever yours, and ever classy,

Good Sir Darcy