A precise, and concise, description from Joseph Roth, in The Radetzky March, of how it feels to be drunk:
Lieutenant Trotta did not budge. He could remember that his father had recently arrived, and he understood that it wasn’t this father, but a whole bunch of fathers that were standing in front of him. But he was unable to recall either why his father had come today, or why he was multiplying so extremely, or yet why he, the Lieutenant, was unable to stand up.
A reflection from Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March on how life – and death – has changed since 1914:
In the years before the Great War, at the time the events chronicled in these pages took place, it was not yet a matter of indifference whether a man lived or died. When someone was expunged from the lists of the living, someone else did not immediately step up to take his place, but a gap was left to show where he had been, and those who knew the man who had died or disappeared, well or even less well, fell silent whenever they saw the gap. When a fire happened to consume a particular dwelling in a row of dwellings, the site of the conflagration remained for a long time afterwards. For masons and bricklayers worked slowly and thoughtfully, and when they walked past the ruins, neighbours and passers-by alike recalled the form and the walls of the house that had once stood there. That’s how it was then! Everything that grew took long to grow; and everything that ended took a long time to be forgotten. Everything that existed left behind traces of itself, and people then lived by their memories, just as we nowadays live by our capacity to forget, quickly and comprehensively.
“The morals of the time were, as we know, severe. But exceptions were made, often with alacrity. This was one of a handful of aristocratic principles, according to which ordinary citizens were second-class people, but the occasional middle-class officer was made personal equerry to the Emperor; according to which Jews were barred from claiming high honours, but the odd Jew was ennobled, and hobnobbed with archdukes; according to which women were expected to be first chaste and then faithful, but this or that particular woman was afforded a cavalry officer’s licence to love. (All these principles we like to call hypocritical today, because we are so much more unyielding, implacable and deadly earnest.)”