And indeed, the mind of contemporary man, of whatever level of intellectuality, is only able to take cognizance of the world by means of data which, whenever accidentally or intentionally activated, arouse in him all sorts of fantastic impulses. And these impulses, by constantly affecting the tempo of all the associations flowing in him, gradually disharmonize the whole of his functioning, with such sorrowful results that it is impossible for any man, if he is able to isolate himself even a little from the influences of the established abnormal conditions of our ordinary life and is willing to think about it seriously, not to be terrified as, for example, by the shortening of our life with each decade.

First of all, for the ‘swing of thought’, that is, for establishing a corresponding rhythm for my thinking and also for yours, I wish to follow somewhat the example of the Great Beelzebub and imitate the form of thinking of one highly respected by him and by me, and perhaps already, brave reader of my writings, by you, if of course you have had the daring to read through to the end all of the first series. That is to say, I wish to introduce at the very beginning of this writing of mine what our dear-to-all Mullah Nassr Eddin would call a ‘subtly philosophical question’.

I wish to do this at the very beginning because I intend to use freely, both here and in my later expositions, the wisdom of this sage, who is now recognized almost everywhere and upon whom, it is rumoured, the title of ‘The One and Only’ is soon to be officially conferred by the proper person.

And this subtly philosophical question may already be sensed in that sort of perplexity which is bound to arise in the consciousness of every reader of even the very first paragraph of this chapter, if he compares the many data on which his firm convictions about medical matters are based with the fact that I, the author of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, after the accident which nearly cost me my life, with the functioning of my organism not yet fully re-established owing to the incessant active effort to set down my thoughts for transmission to others as exactly as possible, carried out my rest quite satisfactorily during this time chiefly by the use of immoderate quantities of alcohol, in the form of the above-mentioned old calvados and of its various full-strength virile cousins.