3I m compelled to take over the book s structure in this review, and that s not only because of Junta s shining example There is no plot weaving together the pages The book is made up ofthan two hundred diary entries But this is a special diary The entries seldom talk of work, of interactions with other people, of the goings on in the day They deal with the author s rich inner life, to which the outside reality offers only a background at best Pessoa sat down at his desk and just wrote what he thought Streams of thoughts are often fragmentary, and so is this book Every number allows a new idea to carry you through poetic landscapes until the author reaches the shores of that idea and he starts over, sometimes with a new idea, sometimes with the same, sometimes leading to the same shore, sometimes further away or closer by As a result, my notes of my reactions to the book are equally fragmentary, each note representing a new stream as I glide to the next number and I start over.
4One of my favorite things to do is to stand in between two mirrors that stand directly opposite of each other To see my reflection multiplied to infinity is the most humbling ego boost I can think of I say infinity but if you look far enough into that world of infinite reflections there is a dark hole at the end of it, there where the light ceases to reach and where my beholding eye ceases to behold Consciousness is a mirror Consciousness of consciousness leads to a similar infinity that seemingly leads to nothingness 5Infinity sharpens my mind and elates my heart as a concept, but it numbs my mind and shrinks my heart as a reality Nothingness is just one version of infinity Equating everything to zero is the easiest solution to find, but the most difficult one to accept 6I don t know if this book has changed my life It added a layer of consciousness to my consciousness and makes meaware of inner processes On the other hand, it couldn t have done so if it didn t confirm my consciousness, if it didn t confirm what I already felt and knew without knowing My soul was stripped of the comfort and warmth of the mundane, but already I feel myself slipping back into the world and out of myself 7A connection feels meaningful when it is direct, goes deep and is complete.
8Dreams I ve never bothered to write down, thoughts and follies that were interrupted much of what I have said, written and thought is lost Only the abstract memory of having said, written and thought lingers Before I go to sleep, thoughts wash over me, turning around in my head, taking five paths at once and dancing in harmony The mind is cleared and cleansed with these high speed thought cycles but then, a jolt of consciousness, the spell is broken and the thoughts are forever lost, hiding away in dreams The heavy weight of consciousness doesn t last as another torrent of thoughts sweeps down and I fall into a peaceful sleep How I would like to commit those thoughts to paper, to catch the wild torrents and be at peace.
9In my mind s eye a castle is easily conjured up, the atmosphere is palpable, the potential for storytelling enormous I pick up my pen The jester is no longer a concept, but a living thing in need of adventures and adjectives The scene becomes heavy and slow and I grind to a halt 10An unlikable side effect of my consciousness is that I can t help but feel special That feeling doesn t start at the cerebral level Somewhere in the depths of my diaphragm there is this core, a source of that intuition Sometimes that core is cold and the feeling fades, but this book made it burn brightly I look at the reviews page and I see that it did so for others My feeling special makes way for a special feeling 11Like Pessoa, I find a lot of philosophy in the exceedingly small That which does not matter, matters precisely because of it When I look at an ant hard at work, I find that its essence is its being This goes for everything, but it is in the insignficant that this is made the most obvious to me A blade of grass sticking out of the pavement Small numbers written in pencil on a wall that now have lost all significance A bug An abandoned shack that has fallen in disuse I was hiking in a wild, rough coastal region in France On the sandy path there was a small patch of pebbles and I resolved to pick one up and throw it into the sea far below when I d get close enough During my walk I thought about what had brought the pebble to that patch, what had brought me there, and as ever, one thought led to the other The pebble became heavy with my ponderings I could not bring myself to throw it into the anonymity of the crashing waves when the time came 1213Whenever I find wonder in the banal, nothingness becomes less likely Banality is a virtue, importance is a sin There is no wonder in importance, only design.
The situation of the spider crawling on my book only a few moments after I had read the small chapter on millimeters held wonder, but the picture I took was designed, flipping back to the relevant page so that spider could walk on it It felt important to share the moment so I turned wonder into an anecdote.
14Sometimes reality feels like the dream that my inaction brought to fruition Sometimes reality feels like the remnants in the sieve through which my dreams are poured.
The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa If you read this, you need to know what you are signing up for, so, below, I ll let Pessoa speak for himself It s a series of vignettes, random thoughts and meditations all written between 1913 and 1935 It s a work of genius, of course Pessoa, the famous Portuguese writer and poet was known for his multiple writing personalities heteronyms Disquiet was supposedly written by Bernardo Soares, an excruciatingly lonely and socially dysfunctional man He s a shipping clerk in a textile wholesaler and spends his entire life a few blocks from his tiny apartment with one window on a balcony He goes to the same restaurant, same tobacconist and same barber for thirty years All of them die one by one in their 70 s, which he discovers by going into the shop and finding out they died the day before The first two passages show some of his severe social issues Moreover, I am bothered by the idea of being forced into contact with someone A simple invitation to dine with a friend provokes in me an anguish it would be hard to define The idea of any social obligation going to a funeral, discussing an office matter face to face with someone, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don t know the mere idea disturbs a whole day s thoughts Sometimes I am concerned all through the night and sleep badly And the real thing, when it happens, is absolutely insignificant, justifying nothing and the thing repeats itself and I don t ever learn to learn Sometimes saying hello to someone intimidates me My voice dries up, as if there were a strange audacity in having to say that word out loud There are metaphors that arereal than the people walking down the street There are images in the secret corners of books that liveclearly than many men and women There are literary phrases that possess an absolutely human individuality There are passages in paragraphs of mine that chill me with fear, so clearly do I feel them to be people, standing alone so freely from the walls of my room, at night, in shadows Yes, dreaming that I am, for example, simultaneously, separately, unconfusedly, a man and a woman taking a walk along a riverbank, To see myself, at the same time, with equal clarity, in the same way, with no mixing, being the two things, integrated equally in both, a conscious boat in a southern sea and a printed page in an ancient book How absurd this seems But everything is absurd, and this dream is the least of the absurdities There is nothing that reveals poverty of mindquickly than not knowing how to be witty except at the expense of others I go forward slowly, dead, and my vision is no longer mine, it s nothing it s only the vision of the human animal who, without wanting, inherited Greek culture, Roman order, Christin morality, and all the other illusions that constitute the civilization in which I feel In the dark depth of my soul, invisible, unknown forces were locked in a battle in which my being was the battleground, and all of me trembled because of the unknown struggle A physical nausea at all of life was born when I awakened A horror at having to live rose up with me from the bed Everything seemed empty, and I had the cold impression that there is no solution for any problem Ennui is not the illness of the boredom of not having anything to do, but theserious illness of feeling that it s not worthwhile doing anything And being that way, thethere is to do, theennui there is to feel How many times, how many, as now, has it pained me to feel what I am feeling to feel something like anguish only because that s what feeling is, the disquiet of being here, the nostalgia for something else, something unknown, the sunset of all emotions, the yellowing of myself fading into ashy sadness in my external awareness of myself During certain very clear moments of meditation, like these in which, at the beginning of the afternoon, I wander observingly through the streets, every person brings me a message, every house shows me something new, every sign has an announcement for me Sometimes, with a sad delight, I think that if some day, in a future to which I may not belong, these words I m writing will endure and receive praise, I will finally have people who understand me, my people, the true family to be born into and to be loved by But far from being born into it, I will have already died a long time before I will be understood only in effigy, when affection no longer compensates the dead person for the disaffection he experienced when alive I consider life an inn where I have to stop over until the coach from the abyss arrives I don t know where it will take me because I don t know anything I could consider this inn a prison because I m force to stay inside it I could consider it a place for socializing because I meet others here I slowly sing, only to myself, songs that I compose as I wait Everything is emptier than the void.
If I think this and look around to see if reality is killing me with thirst, I see inexpressive houses, inexpressive faces, inexpressive gestures Stone, bodies, ideas everything s dead All movements are stopping points, all of them the same stopping point Nothing says anything to me Nothing is familiar to me, not because I find it strange but because I don t know what it is The world is lost And in the depth of my soul the only reality at this moment there is an intense, invisible anguish, a sadness, like the sound of someone weeping in a dark room Not an easy or a pleasant read, but genius Top painting from i2.
comSculpture of Pessoa in Lisbon from alamy.
comPhoto of Lisbon in 1940 from atlaslisboa.
com I have this habit of keeping a pencil close by when I m reading a book which I know is going to have some passages I want to remember So, whenever I come across a sentence or a paragraph that strikes me for some reason, I underline it.
Well now, what s mostly happened with my copy of the The book of disquiet by Fernando Pessoa is that there is something underlined in almost every page of the book Which is the same to say that this is a memorable book on the whole I d even dare to say that this isthan a mere book, it is a gate to upper thinking, a new way of understanding the world, a new philosophy, a daring and maybe even scary but sincere approach to what is hidden in our human souls, if we are brave enough to look.
I knew a bit of Pessoa before I picked up this book Vastly known Portuguese poet, famous for his ability to create different personalities and stick to them closely to perfection, writing in different styles according to the voice of each character Schizophrenia Or the mind of a genius who fooled everyone who knew him Or a man who disguised himself out of boredom and who was able to livethan 70 different and complete lives through all these invented characters to become a complete real person Maybe all these options at once Maybe none We ll never know.
Anyway, even though I knew about Pessoa, I wasn t prepared for this book Not only unconnected recollections of the supposed life of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa s characters, but also unanswerable questions which left me kind of anxious and peaceful at the same time, if that makes any senseQuestions regarding consciousness, the almost obsession about dreams and the state of peaceful lethargy of sleeping, doubts aroused regarding deities, love and death And about what it is to be happy or to feel nostalgia about a non existent past, or about egoism and solitude But all this questions made evenintense with this overflowing passion for writing, and for literature And for Lisbon A privileged mind which opens for us, humble readers who want to witness an amazing transformation of the world surrounding us, seeing for the first time what our lives really are, or what they aren t and what we should expect them to be.
An experience which will leave you exhausted but with renewed energy to face this extenuating and unavoidable journey which we call life.
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We re well aware that every creative work is imperfect and that our most dubious aesthetic contemplation will be the one whose object is what we write But everything is imperfect There s no sunset so lovely it couldn t be yet lovelier, no gentle breeze bringing us sleep that couldn t bring yet sounder sleep Almost all my feelings As soon as I turned the last page, I realized how much I was going to miss The Book of Disquiet For it has been my faithful companion for over two weeks, as my friends are witness for their company was always there with me As soon as I turned the last page, I worried, what am I going to do now But now it seems my only consolation is all the quotes I collected during this lavish period So I now populate my new solitude with these gems, with Fernando Pessoa s amazing dreamsI ve never done anything but dream This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life My only real concern has been my inner life My worst sorrows have evaporated when I ve opened the window on the street of my dreams and forgotten myself in what I saw there I ve always been a dreamer, but I dream mainly through readings that I always carried along with me in my life s journey I cannot now pretend to be a dreamer like Fernando Pessoa, or Bernardo Soare I ve never done anything but dream This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life.
For I livedin the real world than Pessoa confessedly did Every dream is the same dream, for they re all dreams Let God change my dreams, but for my gift of dreaming.
For him they were his nourishment, his own life But for me they are my leisure Yes, my dreams might not be his dreams but they are as alive as his, as dear to me as his were to himI read and I am liberated I acquire objectivity I cease being myself and so scattered And what I read, instead of being like a nearly invisible suit that sometimes oppresses me, is the external world s tremendous and remarkable clarity, the sun that sees everyone, the moon that splotches the still earth with shadows, the wide expanses that end in the sea, the blackly solid trees whose tops greenly wave, the steady peace of ponds of farms, the terraced slopes with their paths overgrown with grape vines We might be distinct souls, but there is one thing that we are one and that I felt is his anxiety and is also my ownMy tedium takes on an air of horror, and my boredom is a fear My sweat isn t cold, but my awareness of it is I m not physically ill, but my soul s anxiety is so intense that it passes through my pores and chills my body Yes, it seems we could even be related,It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day the sentences I write are read and admired, then at last I ll have my own kin, people who understand me, my true family in which to be born and loved The main difference is that I am not a writer, I am only a reader And so I am his soul mate for I complete him when I leaf through the pages of his book As are all his readers that give life to his writings His prose so beautiful it is heartbreaking, despite his own insecurities But I would I wish to be a writer if the price is to not live Better to write to dare to liveDo you suppose that that is the reason of my contentment Should you ask if I m happy, I ll say that I m not.
For me there is not so much solitude, no lack of friendship, no ceaseless tedium Only unhappiness is elevating, and only the tedium that comes from unhappiness is heraldic like the descendants of ancient heroes.
So, I could not ever be a good poet and I am glad I had never desired so high Although I have to confess that I had some dreams of being a poet But these were only dreams Perhaps I could have never been a poet, for above all I love I love my friends, I love my children, I loved a man and I love life And I could never declare like Pessoa, We never love anyone What we love is the idea we have of someone It s our concept our own selves that we love.
Or even thatl ife hinders the expression of life If I actually lived a great love, I would never be able to describe it.
Maye I should read other poets But I have to agree with him when he states, I wake up to make sure I exist Aren t we all always unsure if we truly exist Am I ordinary , for most of the time I realize I think with my feelings While Pessoa confesses I believe most people think with their feelings, whereas I feel with my thoughtsYes, I am happily ordinary While his happiness is as painful as his pain.
However, theI say I don t agree with our poet, theI believe him Am I saying nonsense Sometimes to be a poet is to unbelieve Oh, I believe we can travel through our dreams, we can imagine unimaginable places within our dreamsWhat can China give me that my soul hasn t already given me And if my soul can t give it to me, how will China give it to me For it s with my soul that I ll see China, if I ever see it I could go and seek riches in the Orient, but not the riches of the soul, because I am my soul s riches, and I am where I am, with or without the Orient But after all my incoherence, I can only agree with PessoaIt s the central error of the literary imagination to suppose that others are like us and must feel as we do Fortunately for humanity, each man is just who he is, it begin given only to the genius to be others as well .
But our natures are diverse, for I am not as solitary as he was I am solitary, you might say, but I have my books What does he have Only his dreams or a poignant and fruitful solitude To understand, I destroyed myself To understand is to forget about loving.
Can we be that alone I ask myself, or only genius and poets have that gift Perhaps, if so that is a sad truth.
Some closing remarks I feel I need to add a few considerations, besides my ramblings above.
Pessoa called this work as a factless biography It might present distinct tones of the absurd, and despite its hints of indifference or even cynicism, it s nevertheless a quintessential trait of its writer He reveals an ethereal existence, or his own life, through his willful approach towards his own disquietude through his sense of a consciousness that suffers with a tedium that results basically from his own senselessness existence And in that he could not betruthful.
Faced with the life s adversity, and aiming to overcome the anguish to him so acute, he imagines, he dreams This may be one of the reasons for his so many personalities his heteronyms, who could each write in distinct literary styles to be born He is not one, he is many So he can experience different lives in only one existence According to himMy intellect has attained a pliancy and a reach that enable me to assume any emotion I desire and enter at will into any state of mind For me, his flow of thoughts or dreaming that we read in The Book of Disquiet captures the writer s mind, reveals a structure and a repetition in thoughts that talks about solitude, dream, tedium, love or un love and unhappiness It is ultimately passionate and painful.
Bernardo Soares is Pessoa s heteronym considered to be the closest to Pessoa s real self and his writings strongly express Pessoa s aspiration to live an imagined life, as if in a dream, so as to forget his self in real life He continually writes about his dreams, their nature and importance to his survivalLive your life Don t be lived by it Right or wrong, happy or sad, be your own self You can do this only by dreaming, because your real life, your human life, is the one that doesn t belong to you but to others You must replace your life with your dreaming, concentrating only on dreaming perfectly In all the acts of your real life, from that of being born to that of dying, you don t act you re acted you don t live you re merely livedRain frequently appear in his writings and it could be viewed as a symbol of his disquietude, his unrelenting dreaming that pours over his own existence What a wistful and beautiful vision Pessoa gifts usEach drop of rain is my failed life weeping in nature There s something of my disquiet in the endless drizzle, then shower, then drizzle, then shower, through which the day s sorrow uselessly pours itself out over the earth It rains and keeps raining My soul is damp from hearing it So much rain My flesh is watery around my physical sensation of it And he dialogues with the readers, but mainly he questions or even doubts himself and his own writingWhat will I be ten years from now, or even five My friends say I ll be one of the greatest contemporary poets they say this based on what I ve written, not what I may yet write But even if this is true, I have no idea what it will mean I have no idea how it will taste Perhaps glory tastes like death and futility, and triumph smells of rottenness The Book of Disquiet moved and overwhelmed me fiercely Pessoa bit by bit immersed himself into my own self, made me wonder and tremble with his alluring and poignant words, much above a mere understanding I perceived his disquiet, and I shared with him many uncertainties or yet his certainties His solitude and his dreaming are written down in my soul and will certainly come back to me in the future Ah, to be such a poet, what a dream and what sufferings Other quotesI weep over my imperfect pages, but if future generations read them, they will betouched by my weeping than by any imperfection I might have achieved, since perfection would have kept me from weeping and, therefore, from writing Perfection never materializes When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial, and in them intelligence like an image in a mirror I ve undertaken every project imaginable The Iliad composed by me had a structural logic in its organic linking of epodes such as Homer could never have achieved The meticulous perfection my unwritten verses makes Virgil s precision look sloppy and Milton s power slack My allegorical satires surpassed all of Swift s in the symbolic exactitude of their rigorously interconnected particular How many Horaces I ve been When I put away my artifices and lovingly arrange in a corner all my toys, words, images and phrases, so dear to me I feel like kissing them, then I become so small and innocuous, so alone in a room so large and sad, so profoundly sad Sadly I write in my quiet room, alone as I have always been, alone as I will always be And I wonder if my apparently negligible voice might not embody the essence of thousands of voices, the longing of self expression of thousands of lives, the patience of millions of souls resigned like my own to their daily lot, their useless dreams and their hopeless hopes I m dazed by a sarcastic terror of life, a despondency that exceeds the limits of my conscious being I realize that I was all error and deviation, that I never lived, that I existed only in so far as I filled time with consciousness and thought I feel, in this moment, like a man who wakes up after a slumber full of real dreams, or like a man freed by an earthquake from the dim light of the prison he d grown used to It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day the sentences I write are read and admired, then at last I ll have my own kin, people who understand me, my true family in which to be born and loved But from being born into it, I ll have already died long ago I ll be understood only in effigy, when affection can no longer compensate for the indifference that was the dead man s lot in life Not only am I dissatisfied with the poems I write now I also know that I will be dissatisfied with the poems I write in the futureSo why do I keep writing Because I still haven t learned I haven t been able to give up my inclination to poetry and prose I have to write, as if I were carrying out a punishment And the greatest punishment is to know that whatever I write will be futile, flawed and uncertain My state of mind compels me to work hard, against my will, on The Book of Disquiet But it s all fragments, fragments, fragments I follow the course of my dreams, making them images into steps toward other images folding casual metaphors like fans into grand pictures of interior vision I untie life from myself, and I toss it aside as if it were a too tight suit Fernando Pessoa, The Book of DisquietYou know a writer is great when he makes you want to learn a new language to understand his work in the original The Book of Disquiet is easily the best book I ve read this year, and possibly the one I ve copied the most quotes from I d only ever read Pessoa s poetry and I had no idea what to expect from his prose It turns out he does poetry and prose equally well.
I would love to have a conversation with Pessoa, although I would probably be an annoyance to him with his desire for solitude But having a deep, philosophical conversation with him would be like a dream He has such fascinating thoughts He delves into the complexity of humans and helped me to understand the reason for his several heteronyms in his poetry Each of us is various, many people, a prolixity of selves I feel that this is the sort of book that people will either think is brilliant or they will think Pessoa is too sentimental and sensitive I have to say that I rarely come across a writer who thinks so deeply and obsessively about certain things Pessoa s favourite topics seem to be dreams, solitude, writing, the futility of life was he an existentialist He reminds me a bit of Meursault I may share Pessoa s melancholy to some extent but I don t share his negative outlook, his depression and his misanthropic nature Even so, this was a brilliant book and one I m so glad I finally read.
Pessoa s writing really consumed me at times Definitely a book to be savoured, and a candidate for a re read When I write, I visit myself solemnly I have special rooms, remembered by someone else in the interstices of my self representation, where I take pleasure in analyzing what I do not feel, and I examine myself as if I were a painting in the shadows.
42 He who does not know how to populate his solitude, does not know either how to be alone in a busy crowd.
Charles Baudelaire, CrowdsSome dreams want to transcend our minds They want to feel alive, be outside and become reality We all have dreamed about things that, even after we woke up, we are not sure if they actually happened or never left the secure yet claustrophobic mind of ours And so, while those dreams are trying to abandon that place, magic can happen When they realize they can t, tragedy awaits This is the story of a man who lived a thousand lives and wrote about the fragile boundary between reality and dreaming with the most beautiful and heartbreaking prose I ve ever encountered.
I wanted to read this book for a long time When I found it, I did something I try not to do I skimmed it I wanted to see something before my better judgment had control over my literary anxiety Before I knew, I found myself reading a mesmerizing passage that I couldn t leave until I finished it.
Lucid DiaryMy life a tragedy booed off stage by the gods, never getting beyond the first act.
Friends not one Just a few acquaintances who imagine they feel something for me and who might be sorry if a train ran over me and the funeral was on a rainy day The logical reward of my detachment from life is the incapacity I ve created in others to feel anything for me There s an aureole of indifference, an icy halo, that surrounds me and repels others I still haven t succeeded in not suffering from my solitude It s hard to achieve that distinction of spirit whereby isolation becomes a repose without anguish 579 From that moment, I just knew it was going to be an extremely emotional experience Whoever said that reading is a passive activity, never found a book with the power of taking his soul out for a ride.
What a book I could relate to almost every word Every yearning for something that could never happen Every loss that did happen Every thought made by a restless mind And every feeling conceived by an isolated heart longing for an endless dream A cure Redemption Or nothing.
The melancholic beauty of his prose and the heartbreaking honesty of his sorrow made me feel too small And relieved Suddenly, many of my thoughts and feelings were exposed in those pages that I was never able to write And he did it Pessoa did it with the most exquisite language you could ever hope to find The atmosphere is filled with an overwhelming sense of failure and frustration.
I envy but I m not sure that I envy those for whom a biography could be written, or who could write their own In these random impressions, and with no desire to be other than random, I indifferently narrate my factless autobiography, my lifeless history These are my Confessions, and if in them I say nothing, it s because I have nothing to say 42 Each drop of rain is my failed life weeping in nature There s something of my disquiet in the endless drizzle, then shower, then drizzle, then shower, through which the day s sorrow uselessly pours itself out over the earth.
It rains and keeps raining My soul is damp from hearing it So much rain 177 Solitude Solitude devastates me company oppresses me 80 Again, fluid and uncertain, the rain pattered Time dragged to its accompaniment My soul s solitude grew and spread, invading what I felt, what I wanted, and what I was going to dream The room s hazy objects, which shared my insomnia in the shadows, moved with their sadness into my desolation 285 Uncertainties.
And so, not knowing how to believe in God and unable to believe in an aggregate of animals, I, along with other people on the fringe, kept a distance from things Could it think, the heart would stop beating 30 I ve never had anyone I could call Master No Christ died for me No Buddha showed me the way No Apollo or Athena, in my loftiest dreams, ever appeared to enlighten my soul 533 And many other displays of human nature Devastating situations that contrast themselves with the lyrical beauty of this man s writing.
His crude words are still little sunbeams that could enlighten the obscure depths of our souls, only if we let them In that so human selfishness of ours, we always think nobody is sufferingthan we do We are the only ones struggling to survive in this world that we never asked for Well, we are not that is not an extraordinary epiphany But reading the words of a man whose thoughts are so familiar to us always represents an inspirational experience We feel like we just found the necessary balm to soothe our pain That is the healing power of understanding Of empathy We are not alone We never were Like Soares in this book, I am acquainted with isolationthan I would have wanted to I breathe it I am made of it And still, somehow, I am not alone A breath of music or of a dream, of something that would make me almost feel, something that would make me not think 57 Being fatally sensitive can be exhausting and a perpetual cause of sorrow But the so desired inability to feel resembles to being dead inside a living body Human existence doesn t limit itself to some functional organs Feeling nothing is not the answer You might as well be truly dead.
So, yes This book is my newest treasure My diary and sanctuary I can t help but to be grateful It filled my head with many questions that I wish I could find the answers by myself.
What to do when we are forced to leave the safe place our dreams represent Can they make us do it Will we ever find the strength enough to face the world Do we have to Do we dare I sleep when I dream of what doesn t exist dreaming of what might exist wakes me up 179 Life should be about finding a sane balance between reality and fantasy That reminds me of something I found the other day I don t know if the following words really belong to Pizarnik they sure sound like her and since I couldn t find them in English, I kind of translated them Trust me, they are too beautiful in Spanish So, I apologize in advance I am simply not from this world I frenziedly dwell in the moon I am not afraid of dying I am afraid of this foreign, aggressive landI cannot think about specific things I am not interested I cannot speak like everybody else My words are foreign, they come from far away What will I do when I plunge myself in my wildest dreams and cannot ascend Because that is going to happen, eventually I will go and I won t know how to come back Moreover, I will not know that there is a coming back I will not want it, perhaps.
No Pessoa was not alone.
According to this book, Soares was not a pessimist He was sad He suffered and dreamed And he complained without knowing if suffering was the norm, if he deserved it for some reason However, he rejoiced in the fact that he could play with his complaints and made them musical because he was an artist He could give beauty to his complaints and dreams But, if you can t do that, if you are not an artist well What then Note I read the English Zenith and Spanish Crespo translations at the same time I prefer the English one.
Apr 27, 14 Also on my blog Other reviews A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe Selected PoemsThe Selected Prose of Fernando PessoaThe Education of the StoicEl Banquero Anarquista written in Spanish Humans are social beings, to the extent that those who prefer solitude to the company of others are usually perceived as troubled individuals, outside of the norm it took me a long time to feel comfortable with being alone, with dampening the guilt that flared up in me every time I begged off going out with a group of friends It is always a welcome reinforcement when I come across a book penned by a fellow recluse and The Book of Disquiet could be a solitary soul s bible, so powerfully does it speak in the language of single place table settings, corner chair cobwebs and bachelor apartments It has achieved pride of place on my bedside stack, where I can ladle myself servings of Pessoa s wisdom at leisure.
This book s voluntarily alone author is Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, writer, and polylinguist who invented fully fleshed out heteronyms distinct and separate personalties of differing nationality and gender in order to pursue his writing in various idiosyncratic shades and styles The Book of Disquiet is a collection of the aphoristic prose poetry musings of one such heteronym, that of Bernardo Soares, assembled from notes, entries, and jottings made over a span of some thirty years and left unpublished at the time of Pessoa s death in 1935 Richard Zenith, the editor and translator of this stunning, haunting, and achingly beautiful paean to the imaginary potentiality of man, has compiled the definitive edition of this tome in a truly outstanding translation that captures the expressive eloquence of Pessoa and his magical, metaphorically rich manner of constructing word images to portray his unique way of life.
There is no finer encomium to the shattering melancholy and bracing affirmation of loneliness and solitude than the five hundred plus entries that make up The Book of Disquiet and few better descriptions of existential nausea, of the desperate efforts to perceive a reason to continue with the painful disappointments, shadow terrors, and numbing meaninglessness of human existence As Pessoa writing as Soares quietly and unassumingly goes about his daily rituals of walking, working as a book keeper and inhabiting the well trod spaces of his rented room in the real world, he is living a rich existence within the wildly creative contours of his mind as a knight errant, a rich merchant, a pirate, a voyager, a lover of countless women, a guide to the cosmos, an inhaler of sunrises and embracer of sunsets, the guiding hand of every drop of Lisbon s morning showers, the leaves shaken by a sudden burst of wind Having been sentenced to a term of life by an errant universe, Pessoa decided to renounce action and ambitions in what we hold to be real life to pursue a variegated and abundant existence within the realm of dreams As our life is measured through the archived clippings of one s memory, whether one actually performed the deeds recalled matters less than the detail and substance they contain.
Such, at least, is the defense offered by Pessoa yet often his solipsistic persuasions are contradictory, defensive and when the mask slips we can see the depth of pain and loneliness underneath the placid surface of his imaginary life There is much repetition and mulling over of themes from different angles, but the writing is so expressive and raw and honest that, to myself at least, it never becomes tedious even as the tedium of existence, the stretching of the soul on the rack of time, is one of the principal ideas that populate Pessoa s thoughts and entries It is as if tedium was experienced as a box of chocolates, each colour and coating, each form and flavour, each taste and texture, mulled over, pondered, drawn out and examined, and then set to paper as a running record to remind of an eccentric daily pleasure.
This is a book to be mused upon and savored, one that can be imbibed in different ways it can be read straight through the way I approached it, drawn into a white heat of blistered enthrallment or sparingly sampled over weeks, months, even years The order the aphorisms are assembled in is purely a construction of Zenith he stresses such in his introduction and encourages each reader to create their own sequence for the collected entries However the reader decides to approach The Book of Disquiet, they will be rewarded with the inventive honesty of a hale and wounded man from a work that is truly sui generis I ve recently picked up the Serpent s Tail Extraordinary Classic edition, which features a translation by Margaret Jull Costa, who performed similar duties for Jos Saramago s last half dozen books Distinct from Zenith, obviously, but just as potent and powerful and the differently parsed words and sentences only serve to present Pessoa s incomparable poetry of loneliness in a new light, equally fulgent and searing, just focussed from an alternate angle A richly marbled interiority of immanent pain and transcendent beauty Revisiting the disquietude of early modern Lisbon, I m reminded anew how this collection of Pessoa s dispassionate passion is one whose title is so perfectly matched to the content within that one can sit there all by oneself, of course cushioned within the utter silence of an unvoiced existence, serving as an unexciting urban renewal zone for migratory dust motes and unimpressive highland anchored lethality for predatory silken arachnids, with a nigh sardonic set to the tight lipped, hesitantly committed smile of satisfaction that imprints itself upon one s otherwise stoney visage, and marvel at how much one man s textually decanted imaginative impressions and gossamer ruminations running the interior gauntlet of unlived memories, unacted performances, unconsummated affairs, unshed tears, unwatched observations, unwinged flights, ungrounded fears, unfelt kisses, untouched caresses, uninvolved emotions, unexercised exertions, untasted repasts, unliked friendships, unmet acquaintances, untold stories, unpoured libations, undone happenings, unannounced recollections, unlit umbrages, unformed expressions, untraveled journeys, unnoticeable leavenings, unhoused guilts, and unarticulated speechifications resonate, to the fullest extent, with the plucked strings ever aquiver within the utterly empty, lonely, and withdrawn chambers of the mind and or house bound soul.