DESCENT OF MIND
403 words by Stanley Lieber
I write to you with news of Albert's worsening condition.
One moment he is digressing about Kant and the next he has picked up a kitchen appliance and is bashing himself in the face. I am increasingly frightened that he will do irreparable damage to himself. When I'm not around, he calls me almost every day. But I cannot answer his calls anymore -- not for any lack of sympathy, understand, but for time. After five minutes he forgets he's called and tries to call again. This can go on for hours. I think it matters very little whether I answer or not, as he won't remember either way. In spite of my fears for his safety, I really don't think my presence or my words mitigate the danger. When I do answer, speaking to him meaningfully is an occluded impossibility, as he rarely understands what I'm trying to say. He seems to be losing comprehension of even simple language. I now manage his percept from remote with an automated script. The program runs continuously, even when I am otherwise preoccupied. I check the log messages most mornings.
I still visit him once a week and help him arrange his grocery deliveries, medications, and so on. He is no longer capable of caring for himself in essential matters. I have to put his hand on the pressure screen at the appropriate times. His notebooks have degenerated, devolved over time into page upon page of scratches, really nothing more than dots and dashes. I don't believe he is writing in Morse code. He doesn't even attempt to draw anymore. The systems in his apartment could take care of all his basic needs, but I am reluctant to cut off contact on account of his obvious loneliness. He has begun to confuse me with members of his family who are long dead.
My understanding is that your work has taken a turn towards success, as of late, and that the advances you are making every day may be of some benefit to Albert. Things used make sense to him, Saito. To us.
In spite of our earlier discussion on these matters, I must appeal to you yet again to reconsider your blunt rejection of his case. Surely you have some leeway in who you treat. Won't you please try to help him, if you are able.
I implore you, Saito.