Therein lay the danger of trying to reconstruct experiential categories and concepts historically. In my approximations were combined equal parts the material apprehended and myself as material apprehender. Even with the extant texts, amateur historians like myself ran the risk of attributing too much to the subjects, of entwining foreign notions with their native ideas. In short, we were ever on the threshold of going one step beyond what conjecture as to consciousness reasonably allowed.
Certainly, there existed ways to lessen risks of the sort, one of the most prominent of which consisted in fixating on peoples or periods which had passed, to some extent, beyond my ethical scope of consideration. The dangers of distortion therefore limited themselves to the descriptive. Though I might misportray the subject, it nonetheless emerged from the encounter more or less intact, with its web of ethical relations, praise and blame, untouched. Such considerations likely accounted for my ongoing, perhaps even thoroughgoing obsession with English’s more obscure Germanic roots, in words like dale, outlandish and deem, and their culmination in Anglish.
In the latter, reverse-engineered to be free of Latinate terms, I could contemplate English-as-would-have-been, an otherworldly counterpart to my own speech. With concerted effort, I might even imagine how the muscles of my mouth, tongue and throat would have altered to match the distinctive movements required for Anglish’s consonant clusters and fricatives. In so doing, no harm came to the Old Anglo-Saxons; my perusing obscure corners of the internet did not cast different light on the migrations and settlings a thousand years past, now out of living memory. In Anglish persisted a world, a different combination of facts, which, like the ninth-century Anglo-Norse kingdom of Danelaw or Danelagh, did not come to be or had gathered different facts or the layers of which had accreted differently.
I could only marvel at how different my reflections proved in comparison with those of my border crossing the September before. The new train passed that border, which went unrecognized by my mobile’s internet coverage. In it, I saw confirmation of just how porous a border it was, of how unsteady had been the hand which traced it. South of the rails loomed the Heights of Stiring-Wendel, which vanguard units had manned in the last war’s opening days, rearguard units in its closing. So did humanity circle about on itself until collapse, exhausted.