The book I now sit down to write must seem pointless to many—if indeed I dare imagine “many” will have the opportunity to read it—since of my own volition, without anyone’s request, I undertake such a work, and since I myself am not quite clear as to the purpose. I must and will, that’s all. The demand for purpose and method in one’s doings and sayings has become more and more exacting, lest a single word might be uttered haphazardly; but the author of this book has been forced to take the opposite course, out into purposelessness, because even though my years here as prisoner and chemist—they must be more than twenty, I suppose—have been well enough filled with work and urgency, there is a something that feels this to be insufficient and that has inspired and envisioned another labor within me, one which I myself could not have envisioned, and in which I nevertheless have been deeply and almost painfully involved. That labor will be completed when I have finished my book. Consequently, I realize how unreasonable and irrational my scribblings must seem in comparison to all rational and practical thinking; yet write I must.
(Transl. by Gustaf Lannestock)