Thursday, May 10

Fernando Pessoa

"I suppose I'm what they call a decadent, one whose spirit is outwardly defined by those sad glimmers of artificial eccentricity that incarnate an anxious and artful soul in unusual words. Yes, I think that's what I am, and that I'm absurd. That's why, in the spirit of a classical writer, I try at least to place into an expressive mathematics the decorative sensations of my substituted soul. At a certain point in my written cogitation, I no longer know where the centre of my attention lies -- whether in the scattered sensations I attempt to describe like enigmatic tapestries, or in the words which absorb me as I try to describe the act f describing and which, absorbing me, distract me and cause me to see other things. Beset by lucid and free association of ideas, images and words, I say what I imagine I'm feeling as much as what I'm really feeling, and I'm unable to distinguish between the suggestions of my soul and the fruits born of images that fell from my soul to the ground, nor do I know whether the sound of a certain discordant word or the rhythm of an incidental phrase might not be diverting me from the already hazy point, from the already stowed sensation, thereby absolving me from thinking and saying, like long voyages designed to distract us. And all of this, which even as I'm telling it should stir in me a sense of futility, failure and anguish, gives me only wings of gold. As soon as I start talking about images, even if it's to say they should be used sparingly, images are born in me; as soon as I stand up from myself to repudiate something I don't feel, I start feeling that very thing, and even my repudiation becomes a feeling trimmed with embroidery; as soon as I want to abandon myself to the wind, having lost faith in my efforts, a placid phrase or a sober concrete adjective suddenly, like sunlight, makes me clearly see the dormantly written page before me, and the letters drawn in my ink are an absurd map of magic signs. And I lay myself aside like my pen, and wrap myself in the flowing cape of obliviously leaning back, far away, intermediate and submissive, doomed like a castaway drowning within sight of marvellous islands, engulfed by the same purplish seas that he had so truly dreamed in distant beds."

--Fernando Pessoa
tr. Richard Zenith

# 387 fr. The Book of Disquiet [Penguin Books, 2003]

1 comment:

Michael Parker said...

a wonderful quote about the process of describing images, interpreting them for the reader. Sharing this.