I lost seven pounds in six days this week through fasting and a diet of raw fruits and vegetables. Two hours divided among a sauna, a steam room and a Jacuzzi yesterday didn’t hurt either. I look gaunt, but I sleep better when I weigh less, and I hope the loss will help my knee as well. Unfortunately, the short-term effect is that I feel cold, weak, and shaky.

I have a hard time going at something slowly. I overdid it at yoga and got tendonitis, so I figured that, well, I’ll look into spas and water exercises—you can’t hurt yourself at that. So, what do I do? I sweated so much that I couldn’t remember a good friend’s name. Hell, I couldn’t remember my own name. I actually signed my old name to a credit card receipt. “This is what senility will be like,” I thought. “I will end up arguing with nurses about what my name is, and they will be right.”

When a person changes his name, he doesn’t think about what a drag it will be when he’s so old that he forgets the past fifty years. States of being in which a person loses his concept of personal identity fascinate me endlessly because I think they must be close to what death is like. I simply cannot conceive of complete non-being.