Read The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa Erroll McDonald Alfred J. Mac Adam Online

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The rediscovery in the 1990s of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) is reminiscent of the rediscovery of Kafka in the 1950s. Like Kafka, Pessoa left his work in disarray, much of it to be published posthumously. And Pessoa is fast becoming an icon of postmodernism, as Kafka was of modernism. Pessoa's mystique comes largely from his practice of writing under "The rediscovery in the 1990s of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) is reminiscent of the rediscovery of Kafka in the 1950s. Like Kafka, Pessoa left his work in disarray, much of it to be published posthumously. And Pessoa is fast becoming an icon of postmodernism, as Kafka was of modernism. Pessoa's mystique comes largely from his practice of writing under "heteronyms," each supplied with distinct biographies, life spans, even horoscopes. In The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa came as close as he would to autobiography. But this book is, like so much about Pessoa, an object of mystery. Left on disordered scraps of paper in a trunk, the fragments that make up The Book of Disquiet have no fixed sequence, and therefore each reader must make out of them a different text. This translation, published in hardcover by Pantheon in 1991, has been widely reviewed as the best available....

Title : The Book of Disquiet
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ISBN : 9780679402343
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 278 Pages
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The Book of Disquiet Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-05-13 08:19

    Here is the only Portuguese literary joke I know: Q. Who are the four greatest Portuguese poets of the 20th century? A. Fernando Pessoa. Trust me, it's funny. But it does take a little explaining.Fernando Pessoa, in order to express various philosophical and poetic moods, constructed a series of what he termed “heteronyms.” The heteronym, although similar to the mask or persona, differs in that each one is equipped with a name, a personality, a biography, and a physical description, as well as a distinct writing style. Although Pessoa made use of more than five dozen heteronyms in the course of his thirty-five years, the best known are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, and Bernardo Soares. Of these four, his greatest creation--and perhaps the heteronym closest to Pessoa's self--is Bernardo Soares, the "author" of The Book of Disquiet. The Book of Disquiet, if not unique, is close to it. It is a little like a novel, often like a collection of prose poems, and often like a series of aphorisms and philosophical reflections. The heteryonum that is Soares enables Pessoa to communicate a disciplined, definite vision of the world, necessarily limited in scope, but intensified and concentrated. In this sense, it resembles Roman and English satire, its authorial mask as carefully crafted and resonant as those of Horace and Juvenal, Pope and Swift. Soares, however, takes no interest in vice, let alone the reform of humankind; in fact, he seems to care little about humanity in general, or people in particular. It is here that the novelistic aspect of this work becomes interesting. Soares is a shy, isolated man, a clerk at a Lisbon commercial firm who adds up columns of figures, and seems to do little else. Although he mourns his colleagues when they pass away, he never seems to communicate with them when they are alive; the closest he seems to get to fellowship are his encounters with the waiter in the little cafe where he eats his nightly dinner and consumes his nightly bottle of wine. At first, we feel sorry for him, for we feel his great isolation and are moved by his great passion and profound love for beauty which he can only express through his journal. Slowly, however, we begin to see that this isolation is a personal and artistic choice, a way of refining his art and his being . If he cares about human beings at all, it is only because they are useful adjuncts to his own magnificent loneliness, because they resonate as discrete elements of the poet's imagination, much as a certain play of light on a Lisbon street may reflect one particular color of the canvas that is the poet's consciousness. Perhaps this is why the book “The Book of Disquiet” reminds me of most is The Chants of Maldoror, that uncompromising paean to the magnificent isolation of evil.There is of course a great difference. Maldoror could only have been produced by a very young man hiding beneath a very old mask. His persona is a posture of isolation through which he begins to know himself. The Book of Disquiet' on the other hand, is the work of someone who knows himself well, and cares only about reaching a kind of existential purity: a clarity of view, a refinement of mood, the isolation of particular beauties that resonate more deeply and linger longer than the others.Soares is a monk of the poetic mind, for whom aloneness is a vocation. Its fruit, this memorable book, is rare and delicious, filled with vivid descriptions, evocative language, and refined reflections.

  • Szplug
    2019-05-03 10:11

    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 José 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.

  • Dolors
    2019-05-01 01:57

    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 is more than 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 live more than 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 sense...Questions 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 even more intense 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.

  • Matthias
    2019-04-24 08:57

    1Some books wrap me up in dreams and fantasy, creating a protective bubble in which I can leisurely gaze at the world in comfort. The opposite happened when reading “The Book of Disquiet”, a book that lives up to its title like no other. I didn’t get wrapped up in anything. With every sentence I read I felt myself being unwrapped, as layers of self-deceit and unconsciousness were shed. 2I held the book in my hands. I could decide to open and close it. I could decide to put it away. But despite all that it didn’t take long for me to realise that I was not the one in power, as the book firmly grasped me in turn. Not through my mind, like good books. Not through my heart, like great books. It grasped my soul and never let go. While I was reading this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it had beaten me to it, in that the book was reading me and that it did so more quickly and effectively than I could read its pages. This book is a mirror for my soul, a mirror in which my reflection always sees me first, a mirror where my reflection waves to me and I wave back.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 of more than 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 me more aware 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.

  • Lizzy
    2019-05-03 04:57

    '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 dreams.'I'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 lived more in 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 him.'I 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 own:'My 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 live...Do 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 that [l]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 thoughts.Yes, I am happily ordinary. While his happiness is as painful as [his] pain.However, the more I say I don’t agree with our poet, the more I 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 dreams:'What 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 Pessoa:'It'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 be more truthful.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 him:'My 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 survival:'Live 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 lived.'Rain 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 us:“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… 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 writing:'What 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 quotes• 'I weep over my imperfect pages, but if future generations read them, they will be more touched 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 future...So 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...'____

  • Rowena
    2019-05-08 10:21

    "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."

  • Huda Yahya
    2019-05-03 09:15

    بيسوا هو ذلك الذي جاء ليعبر عني أخيرابرغم مرور سنوات عديدة على قراءة الكتابإلا أنني وحتى الآن لا أستطيع استجماع شتات نفسي لأكتب عنهصعب أن تكتب عن شيء يحفر فيك عميقا بهذه الطريقةصعب أن تتخطى مرحلة الانبهار وتحاول أن تشكل بالحروف انطباعا ‏أو تعليقا أو وصفا للحالة التي تتركني عليها كلماتهمنذ فترة بدأت في قراءة النسخة الإنجليزيةوللحق الترجمة هذه أفضل بسنوات ضوئية من الترجمة العربيةصرت أرتشف الكتاب سطرا بسطرأقرأ صفحة أو اثنين اسبوعيالا أريده أن ينتهيلذاوحتى إن أردت مراجعة هذه النسخة فماذا يا ترى أكتب عنها وأنا لم أعد قراءتها حتى الآنربما علي إعادة قراءة هذه النسخة مجدداثم استكمال النسخة الانجليزيةو لكن ساعتها سيلجم لساني مجددا‏وسأحاول قدح قريحتي لأكتب شيئا عما أحس بهإلا انني سأكون قد نسيت ما أود كتابته عن النسخة العربيةوأنا مستغرقة في قراءة الإنجليزيةفأقرأ العربية ثانيةمممممممخطة تضمن لي ألا أترك هذا الكتاب ما حييتتعجبني هذه الخطة ‏‎=)طيبوحتى أجد كلمات مناسبةسأترك ما يروقني من اقتباسات هناhttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  • Florencia
    2019-05-10 02:58

    If I write what I feel, it’s to reduce the fever of feeling. What I confess is unimportant, because everything is unimportant. I make landscapes out of what I feel. I make holidays of my sensations. (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 suffering more than 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 isolation more than 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 land...I 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)

  • Nahed.E
    2019-04-29 03:06

    لم أطلب سوي القليل من الحياة ، وحتي ذلك القليل رفضت الحياة منحي إياه .. طلبت حزمة من ضوء الشمس ، القليل من السكينة مع قليل من الخبز ، ألا تثقل عليّ كثيراً معرفتي بأنني موجود ، وألا أطلب من الآخرين شيئاً وألا يطالبونني هم بأي شئ .. فجأة أجدني وحيداً في العالم .. أري كل هذا من خلال أعالي سطح روحي ، وحيد أنا في العالم .. أن تري الأشياء يعني أنك بعيد وأن ثمة مسافة .. أن تري الأشياء بوضوح معناه أن تتوقف وألا تكف عن الرؤية .. أن تحلل كل شئ يعني أنك غريب ! كل الناس يمرون بجانبي بدون أن يحتكوا بي .. لا أملك هواءً إلا فيما يحيط بي ! لقد وصل مبلغ إحساسي بعزلتي حدا يجعلني أحس بالمسافة الموجودة بيني وبين بدلتي !!لقد مررت أجنبياً بينهم ، لكن ما من أحد رآني ، لقد عشت بينهم ، ولا أحد ، حتي أنا ، أرتاب في كوني كذلك ! جميعهم حسبوني قريباً لهم ، ما من أحد عرف أنهم قد غلطوا بحقي منذ ولادتي ، هكذا كنت مماثالاً للغير بدون مشابهة أخاً للجميع دون أن أكون من العائلةعندما تركت جريدتي في المقهي .. فكرت في الكيفية التي مرت بها في حياتي .. أحسني مثل أي حيوان حي منقول في سلة من تلك السلال التي تلوي الذراع ، بين محطتين من محطات الضواحي .. الصورة سخيفة .. لكن حياتي التي وصفتها اسخف منها كثيراً ..احسد الناس جميعا لكونهم ليسوا انا !فكلما كان الإنسان أطول قامة ، تحتم عليه أن يحرم نفسه من أشياء كثيرة ، في القمة لا مكان سوي للإنسان وحيداً ، كلما كان أكثر إتقاناً ، كان أكثر كمالاً ، وكلما كان أكثر كمالاً ، كان أقل اندماجاً مع الأخرين ... بهذه التأملات السيكولوجية يتسلي الحييون أمثالي أنمتلك شيئاً نحن ؟ إذا كنا لا نعرف ما نحن فكيف نعرف ما نمتلك ؟،،إنني بحجم ما أراه لا بحجم قامتي .،،ثمة لحظات يتعبنا فيها كل شئ حتي ذلك الذي يريحنا ، ما يتعبنا يتعبنا لأنه يتعبنا ..ما يريحنا يتعبنا لأن فكرة نيله تتعبنا،،كائناً ما أكون ، أتخلي عما أكون ، أتخلي عما أنا إياه ، راضياً بما يقسمه الحظ ، وما تصنعه المصادفة ، وفياً لتعهد منسي،،"لا توجد معضلة سوي الواقع ذاته ، وهي معضلة حية غير قابلة للحل،، لا أنام . أتناوم !!،،سعيد من لا يطلب من الحياة اكثر مما تهبه هي تلقائيا ،،وجع في رأسي وفي الكون!

  • Camille Stein
    2019-05-09 05:04

    ¿Qué sé? ¿Qué busco? ¿Qué siento? ¿Qué pediría si tuviese que pedir? La vulgaridad es un hogar. Lo cotidiano es maternal. Después de una incursión prolija en la gran poesía, hacia los montes de aspiración sublime, hacia los peñascos de lo transcendente y de lo oculto, sabe mejor que bien, sabe a cuanto es cálido en la vida, regresar al albergue donde ríen los necios felices, beber con ellos, necio también, como Dios nos ha hecho, contento del universo que nos ha sido dado y dejando lo demás a los que escalan montañas para no hacer nada allí en lo alto. Transeúntes eternos a través de nosotros mismos, no hay paisajes sino el paisaje que nosotros somos. Nada poseemos, porque ni siquiera nos poseemos a nosotros mismos. Nada tenemos porque nada somos. ¿Qué manos extenderé hacia el universo? El universo no es mío: soy yo. Al final de este día queda lo que quedó de ayer y quedará de mañana: el ansia insaciable e innúmera de ser siempre el mismo y otro.Pero así es toda la vida; así, por lo menos, es ese sistema de vida particular al que, en general, se llama civilización. La civilización consiste en dar a algo un nombre que no le compete, y después soñar sobre el resultado. Y, realmente, el nombre falso y el sueño verdadero crean una nueva realidad. El objeto se vuelve realmente otro. Manufacturamos ideales. La materia prima sigue siendo la misma, pero la forma, que el arte le ha dado, la aleja de continuar siendo efectivamente la misma. ...Fernando Pessoa o el refinamiento estético de la tristeza. Intérprete y traductor de la pena, de la lucidez que no languidece: las palabras se aparecen como islas salvadoras, oasis en mitad de todos los desiertos. Descarado, insolente, implacable con la amalgama de aflicciones que a todos rondan y mortifican. Bernardo Soares o cómo descifrar la paradoja de la existencia, cómo conferir coherencia a la incredulidad y la sorpresa, cómo redactar aplicadamente un diario del desencanto, de la desilusión y la derrota. Quizá lo que realmente perviva, de una manera vaga e involuntaria, sea la vanidad de aquellos que relatan el cadáver exquisito de la vida, aquellos que esculpen suntuosos panteones de voces que otorgan cuerpo al discurso de las almas: memorias que deambulan por las aristas cortantes de lo cognoscible.

  • Rakhi Dalal
    2019-05-13 06:52

    “My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”An Orchestra of over 70 musicians, playing their own instruments, each producing an individual sound, a discrete voice, adding up from each corner, playing the distinctive notes of solitude, dream, rain and tedium, rising at one place while falling at another and producing a symphony so striking in its completion that it cannot be complete, like a painting frozen in time, striving for an expression it cannot possibly attain, and not because the painter isn’t skillful enough but because he chooses not to part from one, deliberately made imperceptible in the strokes, which is inherently his own. So while he did create 81 heteronyms* , each distinctly dissimilar in their style, we do not yet know who Pessoa actually was or what he believed in. Fernando Pessoa, strictly speaking, doesn’t exist.*Pessoa called this work as his “factless biography” I also came across the words “Psychography” and “geography of self awareness” for the book. In my opinion, it has distinct tones of the absurd, and can be looked upon as an absurdist writing albeit on an altogether different level, though the hints of stoicism and cynicism are apparently evident too. You will not notice the “babble/despair” - characteristic of Beckett’s writing or “Rational absurd” (view spoiler)[(My opinion, but I am not sure if there is such a term) (hide spoiler)] - quintessential trait of Camus’ writing, but a willful approach towards attaining the disquietude because his consciousness is a tedium resulting from the conclusion of senselessness of existence; an existence not of this world or life but his life. “It sometimes happens, more or less suddenly, that in the midst of my sensations I’m overwhelmed by such a terrible weariness of life that I can’t even conceive of any act that might relieve it. Suicide seems a dubious remedy, and natural death – even assuming it brings unconsciousness – an insufficient one. Rather than the cessation of my existence, which may or may not be possible, this weariness makes me long for something far more horrifying and profound: never to have existed at all, which is definitely impossible.” His conviction of being a passer-by reminds me of Beckett’s belief of being a passer-by who finds himself over and over again (The Unnameable).“This is my morality, or metaphysics, or me: passer-by of everything, even of my own soul, I belong to nothing, I desire nothing, I am nothing – just an abstract center of impersonal sensations, a fallen sentient mirror reflecting the world’s diversity. I don’t know if I’m happy this way. Nor do I care.”To overcome the anguish of life which he is so acutely aware of, he engages in imagination and dreaming. Perhaps this is the reason he created so many personalities, so as to be able to experience different lives within him. In fact, his approach is distinct in the sense that he is not only aware of his sensations, but he also exercises a control over them which is clearly visible from the number of heteronyms he created for himself, who could each write in distinct literary styles. According to him:“My 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.”*This writing, which is a compilation of over 500 fragments, where each fragment, written perhaps on different days, seemingly an attempt at expressing the flow of thoughts or imagination capturing writer’s mind, does seem to have a structure in thoughts and more than often talks about solitude, dream, tedium and rain. “It’s so hard to describe what I feel when I feel I really exist and my soul is a real entity that I don’t know what human words could define it. I don’t know if I have a fever, as I feel I do, or if I’ve stopped having the fever of sleeping through life. Yes, I repeat, I’m like a traveller who suddenly finds himself in a strange town, without knowing how he got there, which makes me think of those who lose their memory and for a long time are not themselves but someone else. I was someone else for a long time–since birth and consciousness –and suddenly I’ve woken up in the middle of a bridge, leaning over the river and knowing that I exist more solidly than the person I was up till now. But the city is unknown to me, the streets are new, and the trouble has no cure. And so, leaning over the bridge, I wait for the truth to go away and let me return to being fictitious and non-existent, intelligent and natural.”Keeping in mind that this work is written by Bernardo Soares, the heteronym considered to be the closest to Pessoa’s real self, these lines acutely express Pessoa’s yearning to live an imagined life, as if in a dream, so as to forget his actual self in real life. He writes about his dreams, their nature and importance and goes as far as giving advice regarding them:“Live 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 lived.”(Art of effective dreaming II)Rain, which frequently appears in the text, seems a symbol of the incessant thoughts, pouring over writer’s mind and submerging his awareness in the disquiet that he experiences:“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… My flesh is watery around my physical sensation of it.” ( Rainy Landscape)He profoundly expresses his tedium in words when he experiences it and also present to us different situations where one may feel tedium:“Tedium… Perhaps, deep down, it is the soul’s dissatisfaction because we didn’t give it a belief, the disappointment of the sad child (who we are on the inside) because we didn’t buy it the divine toy. Perhaps it is the insecurity of one who needs a guiding hand and who doesn’t feel, on the black path of profound sensation, anything more than the soundless night of not being able to think, the empty road of not being able to feel…” And what is still more astonishing is that though he wrote these fragments in solitude, over perhaps a decade or more, he wrote it as a dialogue between him and the future reader, allowing for either acceptance or rejection on the part of reader. And I offer you this book because I know it is beautiful and useless. It teaches nothing, inspires no faith, and stirs no feeling. A mere stream that follows towards an abyss of ashes scattered by the wind, neither helping nor harming the soil..... I put my whole soul into making it, but without thinking about it as I made it, for I thought only of me, who am sad, and of you, who aren’t anyone. And because this book is absurd, I love it; because it is useless, I want to give it away; and because it serves no purpose to want to give it to you, I give it to you…As I conclude my review, I want to admit that this book overwhelmed me immensely, I witnessed Pessoa seeping inside me slowly, making me quiver with the words he spoke to me, more as I understood them. Perceiving the disquiet which so fiercely plagued him, the solitude that he opted to dream to somehow conquer it, but still returning to the unrest because he understood the futility, made his thoughts trace through my mind, linger there for sometime before finally coming home to me. But my effort at writing a more personal review didn’t ensue because if written, it would have been nothing but babble. I am yet to complete reading Philosophical essays by Pessoa and the poems he wrote by the name of Albert Caeiro, but still I feel privileged to place him on the altar alongside Camus and Beckett. ---------------------------------------*source - wikipedia*Written by his creation, Álvaro de Campos, Notes for the Memory of My Master Caeiro (Editorial Estampa, 1997).*From a “Personal note”, 1910

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-14 07:18

    Flow lightly, life that does not even feel itself, a silent, supple stream beneath forgotten trees! Flow softly, soul that does not know itself, a murmur hidden from view by great fallen branches! Flow vainly, aimlessly, consciousness conscious of nothing, a vague, distant glimmer through leafy clearings, with no known source or destination. Flow on, flow on and leave me to forget!Flow smoothly, book that does not realize its influence, supple prose poem with ignitions of profundity. Read slowly, reader who wishes never to see it end. One cannot read this book of fragmentary thoughts as quickly as one would others, for instead of plot or story, one finds style and syntax that reveal the human condition and psyche. So I read this one intentionally, wishing it would go on and on. Our protagonist and “voice” is that that of the solitary and observant older man, a writer who has never known the affections of childhood because he lost both his parents at a young age. What it must feel like to be loved, to feel the warmth of a mother’s hug, he ponders. He has never been in love, nor has he had any friends. In fact, he’s never had ambition, only his imagination and dreams:Between myself and life there have always been panes of opaque glass, undetectable to me by sight or touch; I never actually lived life according to a plan, I was the daydream of what I wanted to be, my dream began in my will, my goal was always the first fiction of what I never was.It is said that we learn more about life when we write, that we find ourselves within our prose (especially memoir writers). As I write this, I understand more about myself, and as I read his words, I realize that he and I are nothing alike, and yet we have so much in common:I am, for the most part, the very prose that I write. I shape myself in periods and paragraphs, I punctuate myself and, in the unleashed chain of images, I make myself king, as children do, with a crown of made from a sheet of newspaper or, in finding rhythms in mere strings of words, I garland myself, as madmen do, with dried flowers that in my dreams still live.This is the beauty of poignant prose, when we find pieces of ourselves within it. Someone should have given me this book years ago, when I was a teenager in a new country, recovering from war and struggling to find myself in a new world of structured freedom. Back then, I was living in tedium, as the narrator puts it. My new world was invigorating, yet scary, this idea that I could walk the streets freely (and not have to keep myself secluded from men and guns), that I could attend public high schools and apply for federal aid for college, that I could go to a library and read any book—better yet, buy books freely and form my very own library? Although this was great, it was also painful, to be faced with the realization that this world had existed even while I'd been in a different world of imprisonment. I never knew how to verbalize that pain until now:The pain of not understanding the mystery of life, the pain of being unloved, the pain of others’ injustice to us, the pain of life crushing us, suffocating and imprisoning us…To live in tedium is to die while still being alive, even while believing in staying alive: "Life chills me. My existence is all damp caves and dark catacombs." To live in tedium is to hope for a second chance at life, where one can do the things one has always imagined doing. This is the core expression of this book, I believe, this art of mastering self-consciousness. The book is a solemn but necessary read, this is why I’ve recommended it to my students who are war survivors and to my veteran students who have just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. And this is also why I would recommend it to anyone who is frustrated by, yet still fascinated with this thing called life. These pages are the doodles of my intellectual consciousness of myself. I set them down in a torpor of feeling, like a cat in the sun, and re-read them at times with a dull, belated pang, as if remembering something I had always previously forgotten.

  • Luís C.
    2019-04-29 02:08

    Loneliness makes me despair; the company of others weighs on me.

  • Pantelis
    2019-05-10 04:58

    A manifesto, a guide, a book of prayers... I return to it again and again, to take my almost daily portion of saudade... Not to be read in one sitting, it can become toxic...

  • knig
    2019-04-28 04:00

    Heternonymy 101This be possibly the biggest, most self indulgent pre-PoMo existential angst wank fest. Ever. 500 pages of self centered, whiny, petulant, attention seeking, self important and self obsessed essays, which, were they written by a woman, would no doubt have been classed as the insipid diary blather of sexually frustrated spinster in need of a good seeing to. The main thoroughfare here is a subdued Munchian scream about the ‘tedium’ of life, examined from every angle: a diary of emotional bowel movements which Pessoa attends to lovingly on practically a daily basis, with a German stool inspecting precision. And I’m not kidding about that neither. Who else but the Germans could conceive of an epic such as this? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Human-Na... Huh, huh? Is this the ultimate dichotomy of a Buschean ‘oben und unten’ or what? He’s in a dream, then waking from a dream, depressed, then a little better, then a little doldrummy, then dreaming again, then emotional, then done with emotions, then rediscovers emotions, then definitely, positively is done with them, then, perhaps they’re not so overdone after all......Ay Ay Ay Caramba. He’s worse than I am on the rag.Pessoa wallows in misery like a pig in shit. ‘Cause some people get off on that type of thing. And if there is no misery to be found at hand, a malaise will be conjured, like a bunny out of a magician’s hat. Think I’m messing? Check this guy’s gripe out:263Tedium....To suffer without suffering, to want without desire, to think without reason.Well isn’t that just dandy. To suffer without suffering. Exactly what the hell is that supposed to mean? Is it like, white man’s disease? Here is Pessoa’s real problem in life: he’s in love with himself. It unrequited. He does nothing all day, every day, except gaze upon his navel , like an overbloated narcissistic hypochondriac, and bleats about it like a little girl.I’ve got two words, mister:Heteronymy PHI don’t know what that crazy bitch is going on about up there. Its not even two words, is it? And Oben and uten? Puhlease. What the fcuk is that? Some people should just stick to 50 shades of grey and leave the big boys to those (e.g. us) who can appreciate a finely tuned study of the self. Because this genre has not really been attempted before: a prolific, no holds barred, intense and microscopic examination of the ‘self’, pared down to its core and microscopically dissected over the scope of thirty years: an elegiac etude of states of consciousness, terpischoreanily spanning the circle of life with juxtaposing nuances of acceptance and rejection, always seeking to align the individual with the vast cosmos of uncertainty, loneliness and dissonance of meaning which life throws our way. At times ebullient with joy, at times succumbed with sadness, this understated tapestry of febrile ruminations is sure to strike a chord with everyone at certain meeting points: particularly moments when the divide between self and others runs deepest. What idiot on this earth does not question the meaning of life and crawl into a deep hole to lick away the wounds of a quotidian existence? Pessoa is a master dissector of the soul, and its multi-faceted permutations, a paladin of negation and confirmation, a harbinger of death and phoenixing. Sublime.Heteronymy shteronymyHoly Shit I just don’t ken. They’re both right. What the hell, who cares. Pessoa manstruates, and the world is alright.

  • mai ahmd
    2019-05-13 03:15

    ...بداية يجب أن أذكر أني تعرفت على بيسوا مصادفة لم أكن أعرف هذا الشاعر ولم أسمع عنه قبل أن أمد يدي في معرض الكتاب على ديوانه رباعيات والذي كتب فيه أرق وأعذب قصائد الحب وهي القصائد الوحيدة التي كتبها في الحب لقد شدتني عذوبة هذا الشاعر وروحه الشفيفة وتصويراته الرقيقة كأن يقول المريول الذي أخذته من الدرج أليس له جيب لأضع نفسي فيه لأكون قربك دائما ! ويقول أدرتِ وجهك ِ حين هممت أن أقول لكِ في النهاية بأنك ِ لو أدرت ِ وجهك لن يضايقني ذلك ! أيضا أجيء وحدي إلى الشاطىء أجي إلى الشاطىء , أفكر بالحركة التي تثيرها تنورتك عندما تجيئين أنتِ إلى الشاطىء ! وهكذا نشأت بيني وبين بيسوا علاقة حب فطاردت حرفه حتى وجدتُ له ديوانه حارس القطيع وبحثت أيضا فوجدت له أيضا ديوان آخر بترجمة المهدي أخريف نسخة إلكترونية وأخذت أعبّ من نهل هذا الشاعر الممتلىء بالإحساس حتى قرأت مؤخرأ عن كتاب اللاطمأنينة وهو عبارة عن شذرات نصوص وتأملات , والحمد لله تيسر لي الحصول على الكتاب من خلال إحدى الصديقات التي جلبته لي من مصر ..كتاب اللاطمأنينة عبارة عن مقاطع أطلق عليها بيسوا الوضع الراهن للاكينونة , وهي ليست يوميات كما يعتقد البعض إنما كما يقول المترجم هي حفريات في الذات , كتاب من الإحساس والتأمل الذي يمضي بالإفكار إلى أبعد حافاتها القصوى مطلا بقهقة واهنة على هاويات لم يختبر قرارها سوى بيسوا , هو كتاب نثر ولكنه كتب بلغة شاعرية وقد استغرق ظهوره للنور أكثر من عشر سنوات بسبب العراقيل التي وجدها المترجم , ويذكر أن الكتاب لم ينشر في حياة بيسوا بل هو مادة خام لم يتمكن بيسوا من التعديل أو الإضافة أو تحقيق الكتاب , إن الجهد الذي بذله المترجم فاق كل حدود التصور , كما يجب الإشارة إلى إن هناك الكثير من المقاطع الغير مكتملة والتي إضطر المترجم إلى ترك فراغ يشبه هذا ( --- ) إشارة إلى أن جزء من النص مفقود أو () إشارة إلى أن هناك إضافة من الناشر ..يقول بيسوا في تقديمه لكتابه: واحدة من مآسي الروح الكبرى أن تنفذ عملاً ثم تدرك، فور انتهائك منه، أنه ليس من الجودة في شيء، تكبر المأساة خصوصاً عندما يدرك المرء أن هذا العمل هو قصارى ما يستطيع بذله، ولكن، أن تكتب عملاً، وأنت تعرف مسبقاً أنه مختل وناقص، وأنت تكتبه، مختلاً وناقصاً فهذه ذروة العذاب والذل الروحيين، لست راضياً عن القصائد التي أكتبها الآن فحسب؛ بل أعرف إني لن أرضى أيضاً عن القصائد التي سأكتبها في المستقبل، أعرف هذا فلسفياً وبلحم جسدي، من استشراف ضبابي لا أدرى من أين استقيته، فإذن، لماذا أستمر بالكتابة؟ لأني لم أتعلم بعد المزاولة التامة للتخلي الذي أعظ به، لم أتمكن بعد من التخلي عن ميلي إلى الشعر والنثر، عليّ بالكتابة، وكأنني أنفذ عقوبة ما، والعقوبة القصوى هي أن أعرف أن كل ما أكتبه عديم الجدوى، ناقص ويفتقد إلى اليقينبيسوا اختلق شخصية برنارد سوارش الذي تسبب له وللقارىء الكثير من الإرباك فهو كثيرا ما يتساءل هل هو أنا آخر له، أم مجرد شخصية أدبية، والملاحظ إن هناك الكثير من الحوارات التي دارت بينه وبين هذه الشخصية المختلقة حتى إنها أحيانا تطغى على وجوده حتى يختفي هو ويبرز الآخرو يوضح الناقد أنخيل كريسبو أن شخصية سوارش اخترعها بيسوا في أيامه الأخيرة،وهي تبدو مكتوبة بالأسلوب الأنضج والأكثر تطوراً، مما يستدعي التفكير بأنها كُتبت خلال أيامه الأخيرة ..إن المتأمل في حياة بيسوا يرى أن أغلب كتاباته تميل للعزلة وتكشف عن معاناة حقيقية عاشها الشاعر وهو يتسكع في شوارع لشبونه أو وهو يطل على العالم من خلال نافذته في الطابق الرابع ( ثمة شيء يغمني , قلق مجهول رغبة غير محددة في شيء غير محدد , إحساسي بأنني حي ربما جاءني متأخرا , وعندما أطللت من النافذة العالية جدا على الشارع الذي رأيته بدون أن اراه , أحسستني فجأة واحدا من الخرق الرطبة المخصصة لتنظيف أشياء متسخة توضع على النافذة لتجف , لكنها تُنسى ملفوفة على الجدار الذي تمضي ملطخة إياه ببطء ! )إن هذا الكتاب لا يمكن أن تتماشى معه أي تسمية أخرى هو كتاب خالي من الطمأنينة التي يبحث عن أي إنسان على وجه الأرض ستصلك أحاسيس الشاعر من خلال حرفه السوداوي وربما ينقلك لحالة من الكآبة والحزن والشعور باللامعنى !

  • Ian
    2019-04-27 06:18

    Like a Version (Touched for the Very First Time)This is an exceptional book or work or whatever you want to call it.However, ultimately, I found it both fascinating and (just a little bit) frustrating.One source of frustration is that, upon completing it, I discovered that the version I had read (translated by Margaret Jull Costa) was 262 pages, whereas the Penguin Classics version (translated by Richard Zenith) is 544 pages. I hate it when this happens. I feel duped. Nothing had forewarned me of this possibility.Readers have different views on the merits of the translations. I was perfectly happy with the quality of the text in the version I read (plus I love the cover!). However, the sheer difference in length has made me question whether and, if so, how much, text was omitted from the earlier version. This might not be such a big deal. If indeed there is a difference in the amount of text, I imagine that much of it might have replicated what was included in the original version. There is already considerable duplication in the work. Alternatively, it might have consisted of complementary material, the absence of which did not detract from the content of the original version.Regardless, the fact that this issue occurred at all points to another cause of my frustration.Fragments from under the FloorboardsBoth versions of the work have been presented to the reader as if it was a novel. It's even suggested that it's one of the great Modernist novels of the 20th Century.I don't want to be precious about the definition of the word "novel". As far as I'm concerned, if the author thinks their work is a novel, that's good enough for me.However, here, the work as a whole (in whatever version) has been assembled by a team of experts and editors from a trunk full of hundreds or thousands of fragments.It's not clear whether Pessoa regarded the project as a novel. Nor is it clear whether he regarded any version or part of the project as a finished work. Or in what order he would have presented the work or novel, had he finished it.The sequence in which the fragments have been ordered (presumably, from a selection) is actually a triumph of sympathetic editing.However, I'm not sure whether, if the author intended the work to be a novel, it would have looked anything like what I read.To the extent that its formal concerns might qualify it as a work of Modernist fiction, you have to ask whether they derive from the author or his editors.Textual PersonaeI am nevertheless equally fascinated by the metafictional pretence behind its submission to the reader.The work purports to be the product of the heteronymic author, Bernardo Soares, a figment of Pessoa's imagination.Soares was not just a pseudonym for Pessoa writing as himself. He was a fully-fledged persona, clearly differentiated from Pessoa and many other heteronyms he used to imagine and write other discrete aspects of his work. Thus, the existence of the heteronym allowed Pessoa to fully explore aspects of his imagination, aesthetics and philosophy, without any limitation inferred from its ultimate source in the one person. (Mind you, Pessoa acknowledged that Soares most resembled his true self ["me minus reason and affectivity"], to the extent there might only have been one.)The result is that this work is not just fragmentary in its own right. It is the product of a fragmented author.Whether or not it was ever intended to be a novel (by either of its "authors"), the work itself (or at least the analysis of it) fits within the concerns of Modernism, if not Post-Modernism (which I maintain is a branch of Modernism, a sub-movement, not a separate movement).Melancholy NihilismThe fragmentation also reflects the philosophical concerns of the author(s).Ultimately, I sense that this is a philosophical work, rather than a fictional work.It's a fragmented, but ultimately comprehensive and systematic, contemplation of the narrator's world and his place in it. The narrator is a thinker, not a man of action. Little happens in the work other than thinking about the self and its relationship with others and the world. It's not quite solipsistic, because the narrator acknowledges the existence of the outside world. However, for him, his own mind is of paramount concern.The editors have assembled the fragments in a thematic way, even though the same themes appear multiple times in the finished text. It could equally have been organised a different way. Or distilled into a short work of melancholy wisdom.The work is a testament to inveterate egoism, miserabilism and misanthropy. Yet, it's been fashioned into a comprehensible philosophy.If sub-headings were added as signposts, it would make a fantastic guide to nihilism or whatever you want to call this particular philosophy. I am reluctant to describe it as Existentialism, because of the apparent lack of Humanism.Whatever you call it, it purports to be a philosophy made by a melancholy person for melancholy people, to the extent that there is any concern for others at all. Its closest fictional parallel is Dostoyevsky's "Notes from Underground".Prepossessing AphorismsIt's hard to say how much readers are expected to distance themselves from the ostensible authors or their philosophy. Even if it's serious, it would be ironic if only sad or self-pitying readers related to or enjoyed this work.Its beauty resides in the quality of writing, which can be enjoyed by all readers with a metaphysical bent.Indeed, if all philosophy were conceived and written this lyrically, it wouldn't be the preserve of desk-bound, incomprehensible polysyllabists and LL.B.'s that it seems to have become.This work is as literary and aphoristic as Friedrich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.You can understand and enjoy it, even if you don't agree or sympathise with its underlying philosophy.Ultimately, for this reason alone, it is a creative work, if not necessarily fiction.Still, there is always the possibility that the fiction lies in the creation of a non-fiction work by a fictitious author, narrator or character (as ably assisted by the experts and editors)! It's hard to tell whether the metaphysics is bona fide or purely metafictional.The whole text or philosophy might even be ironic. Who knows? Perhaps Johnny Marr could put it to music!At least this prospect makes it good for a laugh or maybe even a dance. Roger Wilco Foxtrot!"A Mercator Projection of the Soul"[An Assemblage of Aphorisms]Below are some aphorisms that map the metaphysical journey of the work:Life and the Abyss:Life would be unbearable if we were truly conscious of it. (212)If there is one thing life gives us, apart from life itself, and for which we must thank the gods, it is the gift of not knowing ourselves: of not knowing ourselves and of not knowing one another. The human soul is an abyss of viscous darkness...no one would love themselves if they really knew themselves...(236)Nihilism and Illusion:In order not to demean ourselves in our own eyes, it is enough that we should become accustomed to harbouring no ambitions, passions, desires, hopes, impulses or feelings of restlessness.(186)Once we believe this world to be merely an illusion and a phantasm, we are then free to consider everything that happens to us as a dream, something that only pretended to because we were asleep.(220)Death and Inaction:I've become a character in a book, a life already dead. Quite against my wishes, what I feel is felt in order for me to write it down.(139)Living seems to me a metaphysical mistake on the part of matter, an oversight on the part of inaction.(114)Looking and Feeling:For me, humanity is one vast decorative motif, existing through one's eyes and ears and through psychological emotion. I demand nothing more from life than to be a spectator of it. I demand nothing more from myself than to be a spectator of life.(198)I am an endlessly sensitive photographic plate. In me every tiny detail is recorded and magnified in order to form part of a whole. I concern myself only with myself. For me the external world is pure sensation. I never forget what I feel.(178)Egoism and Disquiet:That is my morality or my metaphysics or me myself: a passer-by in everything, even in my own soul. I belong to nothing, I desire nothing, I am nothing except an abstract centre of impersonal sensations, a sentient mirror fallen from the wall but still turned to reflect the diversity of the world. I don't care if this makes me happy or unhappy, and I don't much care.(151)The generation to which I belong was born into a world devoid of certainty for anyone possessed of both an intellect and a heart...the world into which we were born had no security to offer us as regards religion, no anchor as regards morality, no stability as regards politics. We were born into a state of anguish, both metaphysical and moral, and of political disquiet.(206)Love and Onanism:We never love anyone. We love only our idea of what someone is like. We love an idea of our own; in short, it is ourselves that we love...The onanist may be an abject creature but in truth he is the logical expression of the lover. He is the only one who neither disguises nor deludes himself.(218)To love is merely to grow tired of being alone: it is therefore both cowardice and a betrayal of ourselves (it is vitally important that we should not love).(240)Futility and Nothingness:The one reason we get on together is that we know nothing about one another.Love disturbs and wearies, action dissipates and disappoints, no one truly knows how to know, and thinking confuses everything. Better then to put a stop to all our desires and hopes, to our futile attempts to explain the world, or to any foolish ambitions to change or govern it. Everything is nothing...(242)Tedium and Worthlessness:Tedium is not a sickness brought on by the boredom of having nothing to do, but the worse sickness of feeling that nothing is worth doing.(91)Tedium is boredom with the world, the malaise of living, the weariness of having lived; in truth, tedium is the feeling in one's flesh of the endless emptiness of things.(122)Silence and Emptiness:I feel this because I feel nothing. I think this because this is all nothing. Nothing, nothing, just part of the night and the silence and of whatever emptiness, negativity and inconstancy I share with them, the space that exists between me and me, a thing mislaid by some god...(262)ADDED EXTRAS:(view spoiler)[["Just as Some Music Makes Me Want to Dance,Some Words Make Me Want to Play"](hide spoiler)]Rather than doing updates, the text prompted me to write some mock "verse", inspired by either Pessoa's words (in which case I have simply versified them more or less intact) or the tone of his text.I also wrote a story that I placed in comment #1 in the thread.The Semi-Heteronym (Me Minus Reason and Affectivity)As luck would have it,If I was there, so was thisParticular man.Transmitted by ConcupiscenceOnce I wasInnocent,But that wasOnly onceAnd manyYears ago. On Making a MockeryIt doesn't matterIf you laugh at me,For I too have scornIn my armoury.Just Doodles HaikuThese are the doodlesOf my incomprehensionOf my consciousness.Lost in AnalysisI lost myselfIn abstract thought,But found myselfOnce more againIn the pagesI wrested fromOblivion.Heidegger's Children[In the Words of Bernardo Soares]Autumn will takeEv'ry singlePhilosophyThat Heidegger'sDrowsy childrenOf the abyssPlay at making.Anticipatory Retrospection[In the Words of Bernardo Soares]I remember him nowAs I will in the futureWith the nostalgia I knowI will feel for him then.We Find One Another WantingSolitude torments us,Though it's habitual.Company oppresses us,Despite its ritual.Never Go Too NearKnow the differenceBetween voluptuousnessAnd noble pleasure.Fragments of a Rainy Season[In the Words of Bernardo Soares]These words are guessesMade in the void,Trembling on the brinkOf the deepest abyss.Through them tricklesThe plangent soundOf the constant rainOutside the window.What She Offers to My Eyes[In the Words of Bernardo Soares]This is how I love:I love with my eyes,Not my fantasy.I don't fantasise;I don't imagine.I keep whole a heart,Given over toUnreal destinies.A Shot in the Arm[In the Words of Roger Wilco]What I once Thought isn't What I want To believeAny more.No Self-Pity Them[Assembled from the Words and Thoughts of Bernardo Soares]IWise men achieveTheir happinessBy making lifeMonotonous.For then, for them,Tiny incidentsAre imbued withGreat significance.IIWise men protect their soulsWith just their human senses.At the onset of any sadness,They assert their innocence.The wise shirk the disquietOf other men's existence,And defy successive tragediesWith consummate indifference.SOUNDTRACK:See comment #2 in the thread.

  • Aubrey
    2019-05-02 06:17

    A trifecta of absolute favorites? Well, not favorites. Existence definers, then. I'll have to say though, this self-discovery wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it was with Of Human Bondage or The Magic Mountain. I'd turn a page, and there was one of my innermost thoughts, laid out on the page in all its proud solitude.Solitude. It takes one intimate with this word and all its facets of life to appreciate this book. The author created an entire world of characters in himself, seeing no journey more important than that of the one into oneself. I have not created my own host of fellow souls, but I am intimately familiar with the ever present malaise, the hesitance toward human interaction, the constant worry over ones reputation with others (strangers on the streets to valued friends to all levels of knowing). Ever present dreaming, ever present distraction, ever present evaluation alongside analysis of the self. Proclaiming the uselessness of everything, yet never making the final step. Dreaming of the novel yet knowing that the novel will never happen so long as the familiar remains itself. Playing mental games to deal with the thinking, the feeling, the hopes and desires suffocated in a soul with myriad reasons for not chasing them.What is the cause of this? What chemical pattern of brain influenced by the combination of genes sinks the self down into introversion, into deep safe waters, always craving yet disdaining yet loving yet loathing the concept and existence of the sun. Who knows.I have not gone as deep as this one here though, and I would have to say that this is better. I don't envy his existence. I see what he has written and can claim multitudes of passages as original thoughts, made by myself upon analysis of our similar existences. There is a quote that says loneliness conveys the sorrow of being alone, while solitude expresses the joy. I look at this book, twenty years of solitude, and I see no solution beyond that of a mindset that I am unwilling to embrace. Falling back on religion is not something I plan on doing anytime soon. Nor will I turn the pain of loneliness into pleasure. I am not so vindictive against humanity as of yet. This book defines a patch of my soul, but I will not let that patch define me; reading this is just another milestone in my path of figuring out my self, and how to allow myself to live as I desire. A wake up call, of sorts. It will be worth rereading if I ever start sinking into this train of thought; it'll definitely be a sign that I need a change, a vacation of sorts. I haven't yet lost the appreciation of the novel, and I'll be using this book as a reminder of what can happen if I ever do so. A resource against calamity indeed.

  • Hadrian
    2019-05-21 09:09

    Oh, God, this is amazing.I've covered the whole thing with frenzied annotations. I need to lie down and think for a moment. This is a beautiful and melancholy look into the loneliness of the dark of the human spirit. Overwhelmed. Pessoa is a genius at describing solitude and dreaming.Will come back to write something more fitting later.

  • Junta
    2019-05-10 06:01

    The Review of DisquietKen. O. O. BachEdited and Translated by Junta1I was born in a time when possibilities were expanding by the day. However, so did the proportion of young people who lost touch with their dignity. It seems the trend will only continue. Visible and invisible disparities.2I love the idea of myself. I am proud, but not vain. I know my defects are too strong for me to love myself as much as the idea of myself.3The idea of living is tedious. One is much more comfortable living inside the mind.4Knowing time only goes forward, towards inevitable death, yet feeling nothing.5As I lie in darkness at night, it seems I am capable of anything. My weaknesses can all be mended tomorrow. All I need to do is open my heart. However, the heart can only be opened in darkness.The exception to this is when there is a ray of light so beautiful and innocent that white meets blue, blue meets pink, pink meets white and the whole world is bathed in every imaginable colour. 6The happiness of a dog, the intelligence of a cat, the curiosity of a mouse. The tremor of a cherry blossom branch, the sophistication of a hydrangea, the humility of a eucalyptus tree. The winds carry our thoughts, the rain washes away our fears, and the sun warms us up from the inside.7Nature is not enough for the modern man. The convict with the death sentence who is as tranquil as if they are already in heaven.8I am still often surprised by my naiveté. It seems that an extended period of inaction cancels out the fruits of past action.9I have no opinions, and hence exist. It has always puzzled me how people can have so many opinions. Indifference is the first step in living inwardly.10If there was a spider inside of me, its web would be covering my heart. Prey is taken in, but the predator never comes out. It would become prey out of its web. 11I don't like many things, but the things I do I will stick with, like a faithful lady beetle.12Just how alone are we? Just how alone do we want to be?13How rare it is to be attracted to the mind of another. Rarer still for the attraction to be mutual.14I have been awake for a handful of days this year. If my emotions are asleep, I am asleep. 15It is so rare for me to feel profound emotion that I am worried even the most unfortunate of events will fail to move me.16The reliance on thought is, in its shadow, concealing a hypersensitive heart. No, it is not sensitive to many things, but to those that actually deserve our respect and love.17Dreaming is more interesting than anything that can happen in life, or books. The lofty possibilities of each one are combined into rich sensations.18I have never seen a film more exciting than a dream I might have on a lazy afternoon. Unlike the relationship between life and fiction, in which the latter may be more enticing, living inside a dream is much more real than life itself, and much more beautiful than any fiction that, at the end of the day, is not concerned with us. Reading is life's second biggest luxury. It is a shame dreaming is considered a part of life, and not the other way around.19Books. Paper. Trees. Air. Breath. Oxygen. Brain. Mystery. Maze. Serpent. Sword. Hilt. Power. Domination. Prejudice. Colour. Grey. Dullness. Repetition. Habit. Personality. Uniqueness. The meaning of life. ...20Do my chair and desk respect my writing? They have spent too much time with me that they must be apathetic.21Words betray our thoughts. Words are the physical value of gold. Thoughts are its intrinsic beauty. 22Another year of no change. The things you can change are not essential to your own being.23The social meaningfulness of sleeping and dreaming are disproportionately low. 24"I'm different from everyone.""Oh, me too actually.""That's a coincidence, so am I."25Turn this wayThere are so many things I want to talk to you aboutThough I can only meet you in my imagination any more.26One of my fascinations is linking the unlinkable - an acquaintance from ten years ago and a friend I made this year, a kangaroo hopping around Kyoto, philosophising in English with a close friend whom is Japanese. Dreams are where the impossible become possible.27Neither belonging to the mountain, nor the sea.28The frustration at the incongruence between my two tongues. My person lies in the boundary between the two, a boundary that will never be broken down. Growing in one language means leaving the other behind. Since time is not given to catch up, the two are journeying along two paths becoming more divergent by the day.29Dreams are home, life is work, reading is play.30There have been a handful of individuals who I have despised from the first few seconds of meeting. These persons all have one thing in common, and it is ironic that this attribute they share is what I often long for. In reality, it is unattainable.31Were I ever granted a flash of expressive power so great that it concentrated all art in me, I would write a eulogy to chess. A world where thought is action, one's purpose is clear, and art, science and sport all co-exist. One can comprehend the causal chain, and be transported onto a plane where they hold the power to infinite and truth. One only loses because they deserve to lose.32The inability to put effort into anything.33I feel I lost the curiosity for life quite early. My essence lies in a deep sleep in a plain of never-melting snow under the sun from a decade ago, when I realised the incompatibility between my self and the environment. New lands bring new sensations, but the decision to venture forth took too long. I'm not sure how much I lost in those plains. I believe they exist inside myself too, though it will be a long time before the snow there melts.34"Why did you pull the covers over yourself?""I think it's because I feel cold."35Like the attic above my bedroom which I have never ventured to explore (the square opening is as good as forgotten), I am still optimistic about change. It is just that I am pessimistic about how receptive I am to change.36I have always been a great fan of myself. Thoughts are not published or broadcast, but I am always writing the draft....Today I'm an ascetic in my religion of myself. A cup of coffee, a cigarette and my dreams can substitute quite well for the universe and its stars, for work, love, and even beauty and glory. I need virtually no stimulants. I have opium enough in my soul.37Reading is an instance I am open to the world, since I am feeling more than thinking. I do not bother with interpretations, only impressions.38My apathy has also infected my memory, so I am losing my past at an impressive rate. I am used to it, and it does not bother me so much. I am the same old person from year to year, but every moment I am also becoming someone new.39Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will be living in our minds, thanks to technology. As much as I live in my mind already, I don't entirely embrace this future. Living in the mind is a voluntary privilege, luxury and virtue that should not be accessible to everyone.40"What do you want for Christmas?""My fermented thoughts from ten years ago."41I have always been fascinated by people who can show their feelings and opinions so openly. The concept of acting, becoming another person is wonderful, but I could not bear other people watching this psychological rendezvous.42An excess of confidence brings more results than a lack of confidence. However, the latter is tragic and beautiful.43Worldly rations of wisdom cannot be consciously acquired after a certain age in youth.44I want to combine the notes of a piano with the lake I often drive past. The smell of the lawn with a passionate discussion over whisky. The translucence of a window with a mental exercise. The taste of sake with the crescent moon. The beauty of prose with the mediocrity of people around me. Whole new worlds will open up when distant planes merge onto one. 45Only relying on intuition on Monday. Principles on Tuesday. Taste on Wednesday. Kindness on Thursday. Indifference on Friday. Perverseness on Saturday. Optimism on Sunday.46I often refrain from speaking something out aloud if most people around could have said the same thing. 47Flawed perfectionism, realistic idealism and melancholy optimism. 48Humanity still seems to be the norm, or people would have killed each other off long ago. It is a blessing to find like-minded people because most of humanity is disagreeable or distasteful.49I have internalised and rationalised everything to such an extent that it's a wonder how most people give me respect for my exterior.50"Can I be your friend?""Only if you can enjoy this awkward silence with me."51"Today is the first day of the rest of your life.""It will be your last if you keep up with those statements."52I am content with the friends I have and the things I enjoy, that the rate of finding new ones is decreasing by the year. Quantity of quality over quality of quantity.53"Would you rather be remembered as missing in action, or missing inaction?"54I am amazed at how big religion is in this world.55Each letter of each letter, traversing the seas.56Being strong and not being weak are two entirely different things. It is a question of purpose.57Imagining worlds where psychological conventions, power relations and social structures are completely different from reality. Do you want to make the world a better place, or be the best you can be? Both, or neither?58I do not mind travelling, but they have been a means to an end. I can journey around the whole universe in my mind in the comfort of home. 59Contradictions in personality can either be pitiful, or lovely.60Variegated stupidity.61One sign of loving someone is that with them, you'd want to do things that you would usually detest or avoid at any cost.62I appreciate someone doing something for me a lot more than receiving something materially. I am selfish, and am happy with the rare purchases I make myself. I know what I want and don't want. Thus, what someone may give me blindly is appreciated but not necessary.63The beautiful oceans of objectivity and rationality. The Tropic of Spontaneity divides them.64"You know, you are pretty special.""I was going to tell you the same thing."65Never having a Plan A, only contingent paths.66"Hey, I never thought you would dance like this.""Well, this is a place for dancing."67Did cavemen cringe?68Perhaps there needs to be some difference for balance....After they go their separate ways, each marrying someone else (since they think too much alike to marry each other), if one day they happen to look at these pages, I think they recognise what they never said and will be grateful to me for so accurately interpreting not only what they really are but also what they never wished to be nor ever knew they were...69Loneliness, Intelligence, Fecundity, Eloquence.70If writing is a form of masturbation, how can literary sex be achieved? Taking turns is unaesthetic, but there is only space for one pen on the line.71I'm aware that things have tended to go well when I have successfully ceased overthinking. A narrow comfort zone.72Impressions of episodes are all that remain. It's a shame there is no 'Pause' function. On the crucial level, the chances of reaching a checkpoint can be 50-50.73"I have never felt this way before."74MonotoneBaritoneAnglophoneMiscommunication-prone.75"I'm going to be lonely without you."76Certain characters in stories by DFW and Murakami are my favourite. They are the most similar to me.77The last photo together in the hotel lobby.78"What would you like for your side dish, chivalry or commitment?"79I used to dislike children for they are illogical and lack objectivity. Thankfully I do not mind them so much now.80"What talent do you wish you had?""The capacity for hard work."81I miss change.82A stanza blossoms in springA note resounds above in summerA sketch survives through autumnA melody is unearthed in winter83"What is your dream?"84I want to write my own story one day. At the moment I'm incapable of writing a few lines. For now I shall stick with reading.85I occasionally experience déjà vu, dreaming the scene and living it months or years later.86In terms of physical appearance, which is the real self? The one in solitude, the one in the mirror, the one in the photograph or the one in the mind?87"In the 22nd century, riddles and wordplay became weapons of mass destruction."88"Stop thinking. You're doing it again."89Teenage life is suffering for those who grow up too slow, those who can't open themselves up and those who think too much. 90Wallowing in regret used to be my preferred method of self-flagellation. Now I read instead and wallow in indifference.91I'm only intelligent in certain aspects. In others I'm just good at hiding my ineptitude, or avoid them altogether. However, I do look down on others who behave stupidly by choice.92"What is your greatest achievement in life?""Keeping a dignified presence throughout."93I want to write something only I canDo something for the world only I canThink about the world in a way only I canLive in this world sometimes alone, sometimes with othersI've been fortunate so far. Things could be a lot worse.94I've found that my personalities across life and its most cherished facets (as a chessplayer, as a reader etc.) are all absolutely identical. This is a natural occurrence, but is worth analysing.95Eyes are beautiful windows to the soul.96If a creature can live both underwater and on land, how do they decide how much time they allot to the respective habitats? 97To think about everything, to analyse everything. To place in the realms of exact science the hum of a passerby, the glance of a waitress, the gaiety of a retiree, the hesitancy of an acquaintance, the struggles of a friend, the concerns of a lover.98The heart, the mind, the soul. The fountain, the cave, the sky. The waves, the sand, the tide. The piercing sunshine, the stuttering rain, the air we breathe. The future, the past, the present. The girlfriend, the fiancée, the soulmate. The chaos, the structure, the universe.99"I'm sorry."100"I look forward to the day we meet again.Sincerely,__________"December 31, 2015

  • Vit Babenco
    2019-05-06 05:53

    The Book of Disquiet is incredibly aphoristic – one can take almost any sentence at random and use it as an aphorism…“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, a distance commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life.”The Book of Disquiet is an anthem to the futility of life and a hymn of life’s preciousness.“And so we were left, each man to himself, in the desolation of feeling ourselves live. A ship may seem to be an object whose purpose is to sail, but no, its purpose is to reach a port. We found ourselves sailing without any idea of what port we were supposed to reach. Thus we reproduced a painful version of the Argonauts’ adventurous precept: living doesn’t matter, only sailing does.”And Fernando Pessoa fearlessly proceeds right from the point where Ecclesiastes stopped…“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit…”“To recognize reality as a form of illusion and illusion as a form of reality is equally necessary and equally useless…”And so we keep moving through our reality and through our illusions until our “dust returns to the earth as it was…”

  • Oriana
    2019-05-08 09:22

    I can only speak of this book in hushed, reverential tones. This is one of my most, most, most favorite books, which I've been reading for years and still have not finished. It's like an endless diary of daily life, written by the strangest, most deleriously unhappy (but sometimes happy), brilliant (but sometimes simple), intensely thoughtful old man. Pessoa is best known for writing poetry using "heteronyms," meaning that essentially he had multiple personalities who all were writers. He never intended to publish The Book of Disquiet (or so I've heard); when he died, he left a trunk in his apartment filled with a billion little scraps of paper detailing his observations on everything. Then someone put them in some kind of order and made a stunning book. I think each edition of the book has them in a different order, but get the Exact Change edition, if you're gonna get it. Their books are so gorgeous (I have a whole shelf of only Exact Change books, because any other books put next to them look shabby by comparison), and I'm pretty sure they need your money. Plus that's the edition I have, so it must be the best.

  • Tej
    2019-05-11 02:56

    I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice. . ........It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day (in a future to which I won’t belong) 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 far 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.My mind says, say something. You ought to. Heart asks what? He has said it all…. his voice is vituperatively, brazenly, lyrically honest, his courage unassailable and his meekness unfathomable. You will muddle and mix it up ‘to suit the tastes’, he has not cared for the aesthetics… his picture is ‘THE TRUTH’. And then, he is a poet, even his prose is poetic. He writes in a reverie, writes about nothingness, on nothingness and even if all he says is the truth, his goals are ‘nothing’ and he exactly achieves that, nothing. All the more, this is about nothing else but life which is nothing but an absurd and meaningful nothingness. Absurdity breeds disquiet, absurdity cannot be accepted always, without at least voicing the disquiet. Fear of one’s own reflection is strictly antagonistic to this holy grail of disquiet.Man shouldn’t be able to see his own face – there’s nothing more sinister. Nature gave him the gift of not being able to see it, and of not being able to stare into his own eyes. Only in the water of rivers and ponds could he look at his face. And the very posture he had to assume was symbolic. He had to bend over, stoop down, to commit the ignominy of beholding himself. The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart. ...........I weep over my imperfect pages, but if future generations read them, they will be more touched by my weeping than by any perfection I might have achieved, since perfection would have kept me from weeping and, therefore, from writing. Perfection never materializes. The saint weeps, and is human. God is silent. That is why we can love the saint but cannot love God.Lumps innumerable! Why lumps? The fortitude and bravado at the battle fronts of life suddenly striking the moldy impenetrable wall of an abyss. But how can an abyss have a wall? A wall periodically entrenched by our very blood, the symbol of life. The abyss must be kept from interfering in our ‘living’. ‘Lump’ then is a euphoric signal, not of pusillanimity but of there still being ‘real life’ beating in us.Inch by inch I conquered the inner terrain I was born with. Bit by bit I reclaimed the swamp in which I’d languished. I gave birth to my infinite being, but I had to wrench myself out of me with forceps. ........... Once we’re able to see this world as an illusion and a phantasm, then we can see everything that happens to us as a dream, as something that pretended to exist while we were sleeping. And we will become subtly and profoundly indifferent towards all of life’s setbacks and calamities. Those who die turned a corner, which is why we’ve stopped seeing them; those who suffer pass before us like a nightmare, if we feel, or like an unpleasant daydream, if we think. And even our own suffering won’t be more than this nothingness. In this world we sleep on our left side, hearing even in our dreams the heart’s oppressed existence. ...........We never know self-realization. We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky. To live is to be dead. Feel less, hypnotize the self into a make believe world of thoughtfully ‘planned’ happiness. The death of feelings should be disquieting at least but in a world where will leads to power, the disquiets are muted. In the world governed by the statistical p-value significance, the individual outliers matter the least, muted insignificant beings. Poking into the pustules of emotional conundrums, of famine of the soul is a hush-hush affair. Disquieted world breeds disquiets all ends yet very few voice it aloud. Life is an absurdly unfathomable behemoth of immense contradictions where us, inhabitants, all individual grapplers of ‘realities’, initially learn from it and then it becomes us, constructing compartments, claustrophobic nooks where we rest ourselves, the depth of us loses itself into an immense inertial inertness and what projects itself among the living is the altered, masked, affectively ‘dead’ me, us. Our petrification is complete when it comes to dislocating anything that rests in these grottos of darkness for the fear that the hard earned semblance of make believe tranquility that supposedly ‘runs’ our lives and the world, a whole of several such worlds, may not get dislodged to stall it all. We are nothing but scared chickened out living dead.…… in spite of everything, I love them all. My dear vegetables! .........For me, to write is self-deprecating, and yet I can’t quit doing it. Writing is like the drug I abhor and keep taking, the addiction I despise and depend on. There are necessary poisons, and some are extremely subtle, composed of ingredients from the soul, herbs collected from among the ruins of dreams, black poppies found next to the graves of our intentions, the long leaves of obscene trees whose branches sway on the echoing banks of the soul’s infernal rivers. ..........In writing I rock myself, like a crazed mother her dead child.Solitude’s darkest hours and inevitability of disquiet, diving into one’s entrails, fishing out the darkest ponderings, meanderings of a troubled soul is probably the toughest road to traverse. The yearning of a few is the albatross of the masses. These are surreptitious affairs carried out in the private company of own selves. In an ironical world, the pain and suffering of disquieted souls often becomes a source of solace to the beings far removed from overt venturesome acknowledgment of disquiet. Taking nothing seriously and recognizing our sensations as the only reality we have for certain, we take refuge there, exploring them like large unknown countries. ...............Why is art beautiful? Because it’s useless. Why is life ugly? Because it’s all aims, objectives and intentions. All of its roads are for going from one point to another. If only we could have a road connecting a place no one ever leaves from to a place where no one goes!Moreover, Life may be a beacon of light, of luminously glowing brightness, its glow, nevertheless is a cipher and not everyone out there is blessed with the key to break the code. Even the privileged few who possess the key, find it utterly unusable at times, sometimes as good as useless. Disquiet is universal, mostly hidden in the ‘travesty’ of life, masked by the penumbra of its superficiality. Peace, tranquility, repose, balance, equilibrium, all heavy words, and to provide them weight are many an unshed tear and wails, snubbed and curtailed disquiets. Ours is a world of tedium.Tedium… To think without thinking, but with the weariness of thinking; to feel without feeling, but with the anxiety of feeling; to shun without shunning, but with the disgust that makes one shun – all of this is in tedium but is not tedium itself, being at best a paraphrase or translation of it. In terms of our immediate sensation, it’s as if the drawbridge had been raised over the moat of the soul’s castle, such that we can only gaze at the lands around the castle, without ever being able to set foot on them. There’s something in us that isolates us from ourselves, and the separating element is as stagnant as we are, a ditch of filthy water around our self-alienation. ............Tedium… To suffer without suffering, to want without desire, to think without reason… It’s like being possessed by a negative demon, like being bewitched by nothing at all. But some of us fail at the double-game, play the ‘fool’ in this picture perfect world of sanity, spill our disquiet. In all the ruckus created by the shenanigans of gregarious tom-foolery in the name of wailing off the ‘joy’ that life is, disquiet still finds few of its flag-bearers, voices that refuse to get lost in the face of being out-casted, declared pariahs or dispatched with disdain, even. The disquieted denizens of a world replete with disquiets, kings of solitude, ambition-less, will-less and illusion-less dreamers (of reality). We almost always live outside ourselves, and life itself is a continual dispersion. But it’s towards ourselves that we tend, as towards a centre around which, like planets, we trace absurd and distant ellipses. ............And I wonder if my apparently negligible voice might not embody the essence of thousands of voices, the longing for 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.Of-course, all is not well with us, neither do we claim so. We are not phlegmatic saints, pictures of equanimity and unequivocal balance, lined up at the altars of wisdom. We are not idealistic idols to be framed and heralded in the echelons of peace. Chaos! Chaos is our talisman and we represent anarchy. Peaceful, subtle anarchy! Absolutely, contradiction! You are dead to the ‘feel’ to be alive to the world, we are alive because we feel and dead to the world. Opposites, well not entirely maybe but we exist because you exist, in the lack of universality, our disquiet is our very existence. We exist because we feel, only because we feel. Our real world is conjured up in dreams, dreams sans illusions. Our needs are many, elaborate and vivid, we are the eponymous ‘feelers’. We are like children when it comes to living. We want this, we also want that, can’t have both, we need both or nothing at all…. DISQUIET.Children, who want at all costs to have their way, are closest to God, for they want to exist. We are the flag-bearers of ‘the Human Condition’. Running after tomes and tomes of packaged elixirs of knowledge and understanding to know thyself, what foolery you embody and frame. Live embodiment of all that you can ever hope to find in your encyclopedic repertoire of information, are we. To be able to have dreams, it’s crucial that you know how to have no illusions. ............What would be ideal is to have no more action than the false action of a fountain – to go up so as to fall down in the same place, pointlessly shimmering in the sun and making sound in the silence of the night so that whoever dreams would think of rivers in his dream and smile forgetfully. ............Perhaps the novel is a more perfect life and reality, which God creates through us. Perhaps we live only to create it. It seems that civilizations exist only to produce art and literature; words are what speak for them and remain. How do we know that these extra-human figures aren’t truly real? It tortures my mind to think this might be the case…TO LIVE IS TO BE IN-EBRIATED. Drunk with life or the lack of it. The lack of life per se can’t be life? But our ‘life’ beats in different frequency from your existence supported by innumerable contraptions. We are drunk with nothingness? We ‘feel’ alive to the point of death in our world of nothingness. Only here, empty is not empty but full! Come to us, disquieted denizens, savor our world!Revolution? Change? What I really want, with all my heart, is for the atonic clouds to stop greyly lathering the sky. What I want is to see the blue emerge, a truth that is clear and sure because it is nothing and wants nothing. ..............Sleep! To fall asleep! To have peace! To be an abstract consciousness that’s conscious only of breathing peacefully, without a world, without heavens, without a soul – a dead sea of emotion reflecting an absence of stars!

  • Edward
    2019-05-09 04:16

    The Book of Disquiet is less a novel, more the diary of a sensitive and reflective outsider: a dreamer, who compulsively chronicles his contemplations, believing them to be the true manifestation of his soul (ignore the awkward blundering fool who stands before you, these words are the real me!); who lives apart from humanity and imagines a future in which his genius will finally be understood and celebrated... Is it any wonder this book is so beloved by writers?Much has already been written of the brilliant poetic style, and the trenchant and memorable aphorisms, so I will instead write about what is not so often discussed: though this work is idealised by many, there is much here to be conflicted about. Pessoa (or Soares, if you prefer, though I suspect the name is less an adopted persona than a thin, disinhibiting mask), writes from a position of such inhuman remoteness, that only through a charitable reading of his philosophy may one discover truths that are morally defensible. Surely if one takes seriously his views, for example on political disengagement (one should quietly submit even to unjust rule), on living apart from humanity ("you are only free if you can withdraw from men"), life and death ("death is liberation because to die is to need no one else"), et cetera - there are a multitude of other examples which I unfortunately cannot provide due to my ineptitude at gathering quotes as I read - surely as incongruous as these views are to non-misanthropes, they cannot be held up as valid moral axioms, and can only be admired in the abstract, on the assumption that they are not opinions sincerely held, but merely a form of poetic expression, which is understood to be romantically overstated, so that in its diminution and its dilution with the banal and the commonplace, some profound ideal may be glimpsed. And there is real value in what can be discovered in The Book of Disquiet, but one must take care not to romanticise Soares's detachment and remoteness, or mistake the actualisation of these as one's aim, for there are better ways to perceive the world.The Book of Disquiet got me thinking about the relationship between suffering and art. While it's true that suffering is not a prerequisite for great art - one must be talented, but is not required to be unhappy in order to pen a great symphony, or create a masterful sculpture - I wonder if the same holds true for great literature, which is so much more a direct expression of the artist's mind, lacking as it does the interstitial abstraction of other artistic mediums. I suppose one cannot make a blanket statement about such things, but I suspect that to write something like The Book of Disquiet, one needs to contain in one's self, more than a just a sliver of Soares.

  • David Lentz
    2019-04-24 08:02

    "B of D" is a work of pure genius written in gloriously lyrical, existential prose: it wants to be poetry and, at times, it is. Pessoa is a profoundly introspective and honest writer who defined existential themes based upon his frank study of his own life and dreams: it's possible that Pessoa is the most honest writer who ever lived. He is highly self-critical, self-effacing and suffers from the "disquiet" of his simple life as a bookkeeper in Lisbon. He wrote "B of D" in that richly germinal literary era in Europe of Proust and Joyce. He composed 481 fragments about the absurdity of life by which he means the inability of man to understand his own existence. "Each of us is a speck of dust that the wind lifts up and then drops."Pessoa's disquieting themes eventually grew into the philosophical worldview claimed by the existentialists but he was an existentialist before many of them. Pessoa writes with the passion of Nietzsche. He is Camus before Camus. He has Kafka's rich sense of the absurd. He experiences daily Sartre's nausea.I devoured every word of "B of D" by Pessoa who had the misfortune to remain largely undiscovered and unread until long after his death. His work is existential in the genre of Camus or Sartre ("I think, therefore, I am a mustache.") He is dark, at times, but his introspection is oceanic in its breadth, depth and turbulent existential Angst. His writing has been described as "semi-fiction" and "anti-literature" by his translator. Great writers inevitably challenge the logic of traditional syntax as well as the genres in which they write to transform their genres by the genius of their innovative literary styles which become legacies in themselves.Pessoa writes in fragments which are neither fiction nor poetry but are autobiographical and as such show his disconnect both with life and his own art -- there is no real flow between one fragment and the next like life itself in his existential worldview. He considered his life "an intermission with band music." He also wrote in heteronyms under several noms de plume as if to say he couldn't really even attest to his own single identity as a writer. His fragments are deep, consuming, intellectual dives into his own everyday life. Normally, autobiography is a sign of an immature writer, which Pessoa clearly is not. He writes about his dull job as an accountant among Lisbon's streets and his sightings while smoking at outdoor cafes as well as about thunderstorms, solitude, dreams, the absurdity and futility of life, art, sex, JJ Rousseau and his work. My only criticism of Pessoa comes from his odd observations and poor advice about sex. His translator, Richard Zenith, believes it was possible that Pessoa died a virgin. I make it a practice never ever to take advice on sex from priests, nuns and lifelong virgins.Richard Zenith's translation is truly luminous and he brings rich nuance into the discourse of every line. Like my copy of "The Recognitions" by William Gaddis, I have underlined fragments on nearly every page because it is so deeply relevant, honest and compelling in its pure intellectual grandeur. Here are a few favorite passages which stand out for me from "B of D":"Irony is the first sign that our consciousness has become conscious and it passes through two stages: the one represented by Socrates, when he says, "All I know is that I know nothing' and the other represented by Sanches, when he says, 'I don't even know if I know nothing.'""No one understands anyone else... However much one soul strives to now another, he can know only what is told him by a word -- a shapeless shadow on the ground of his understanding... I love expressions because I know nothing of what they express.""I don't know the meaning of this journey I was forced to make, between one and another night, in the company of the whole universe... We achieve nothing. Life hurls us like a stone, and we sail through the air saying, 'Look at me move.'""The only attitude worthy of a superior man is to persist in an activity he recognizes is useless, to observe a discipline he knows is sterile, and to apply certain norms of philosophical and metaphysical thought that he considers utterly inconsequential.""All life is a dream. No one knows what he's doing, no one knows what he wants, no one knows what he knows. We sleep our lives, eternal children of Destiny. That's why, whenever this sensation rules my thoughts, I feel an enormous tenderness that encompasses the whole of childish humanity, the whole of sleeping society, everyone, everything. It's an immediate humanitarianism, without aims or conclusions, that overwhelms me right now. I feel a tenderness as if I were seeing with the eyes of a god. I see everyone as if moved by the compassion of the world's only conscious being. Poor hapless men, poor hapless humanity! What are they all doing here?"He worked uselessly every business day for a brute capitalist and recognized by night that his writing was utterly hopelessly, inscrutably and irretrievably futile. The miracle, and the sense of this should not be lost upon you, is that every day he still writes anyway like Van Gogh painting despite making only one sale in his lifetime.I recognized Pessoa instantly from the first few fragments of his life in "B of D": I am Pessoa. And he is also you. "Book of Disquiet" is life changing. I can't remember ever having been so disappointed to see a book come to an end: it's that good. I implore you to read this immortal literary work of genius by Pessoa. It may be absurd, and even futile, to do so but sometimes the best answer to both is simply to be just as absurd.

  • Julie Christine
    2019-05-02 08:02

    The four months it took me to read Fernando Pessoa's posthumously-published collection of thought fragments have been some of the most fraught and chrysalis-splitting days of my adult life. This book will forever be synonymous with transition and grief, exploration and longing. I could read only bits at a time, for Pessoa's struggle to understand the world and his place in it mirrored my own and my many gasps of recognition left me breathless. Of course, this is not a book to be read in an orderly fashion, within a time frame, for a singular purpose. It is meant to be read as it was written, in fragments, unending, one you can pick up at any time, turn to any page, read forwards and back and inside-out. It is a kaleidoscope of dreams and reflections, a rumination on what it means to be a writer, the terrible weight of being human. Of The Book of Disquiet writer Rabih Alameddine says, "A book tells you quite a bit about its author; a great book tells you quite a bit about you. When I first encountered Disquiet, I felt like laundry — the book dunked me in pristine water, then battered and wrung me and hung me out to dry in sunshine, rejuvenated. I was forced to examine the choices I'd made, the beliefs I'd held, the loves I'd forsaken and the gods I'd worshipped. Yes. This. Pessoa penned his musings from Lisbon over the course of many years, from WWI to his death in 1935. We are seeing a dark time in the life of a nation, in the life of a solitary man with few friends and family, working at a clerical job which offered little but time to ponder. The melancholic tone woven throughout reflects not only Europe between the wars but a particular 21st century angst, as well. How does one live in the world without being swallowed by it? I found myself longing for the type of solitude Pessoa experienced, those many decades before our lives were invaded by television and the world was cinched tight by the Internet and social media. Detaching from the world is now so very difficult. I'm romanticizing Pessoa's loneliness, to be sure, but what bliss, this silence. I kept a piece of paper tucked inside the book, marking the numbers and opening lines of Fragments that resonated with particular force. Thinking perhaps I'd list them here, in my review. By the end, however, the list had become unwieldy, the fragments too many. But here are a choice few . . . * Fragment 28: A breath of music or of a dream, of something that would make me almost feel, something that would make me not think.* Fragment 48: Solitude devastates me. Company oppresses me.* Fragment 63: I feel like I'm always on the verge of waking up.* Fragment 93: By thinking so much, I become echo and abyss.* Fragment 112: We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It's our own concept—our own selves—that we love.* Fragment 152: To write is to lose myself, yes, but everyone loses himself, because everything gets lost. I, however, lose myself without any joy—not like the river flowing into the sea for which it was secretly born, but like the puddle left on the beach by the high tide, its stranded water never returning to the ocean but merely sinking into the sand. * Fragment 193: I am, in large measure, the selfsame prose I write. I unroll myself in sentences and paragraphs, I punctuate myself. In my arranging and rearranging of images I'm like a child using newspaper to dress up as a king, and in the way I create rhythm with a series of word I'm like a lunatic adorning my hair with dried flowers that are still alive in my dreams. * Fragment 194: A terrible weariness fills the soul of my heart. I feel sad because of whom I never was, and I don't know with what kind of nostalgia I miss him. I fell, with every sunset, against my hopes and certainties.* Fragment 231: One of the soul's great tragedies is to execute a work and then realize, once it's finished, that it's not any good.* Fragment 258: To have touched the feet of Christ is no excuse for mistakes in punctuation. If a man writes well only when he's drunk, then I'll tell him: Get drunk. And if he says that it's bad for his liver, I'll answer: What's your liver? A dead thing that lives while you live, whereas the poems you write live without while.The Book of Disquiet is a particular meditation that were it published today, would come accompanied by trigger warnings for the depressed and anxious. But even in its elegiac angst, there is beauty and comfort to be found. A treasured read I will return to again and again as I struggle to make sense of my life and my place in the world, as Pessoa did nearly a century ago.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-05-03 10:12

    In your mind, picture an old man who dines in a nearby cafe everyday. He works in an office as a bookkeeper, probably few years before his retirement. He is living alone in his apartment a block away from that cafe. You oftentimes eat in that restaurant and whenever you do, you see him on that chair facing the window, silently eating the same meal, talking to no one except nodding to the waitress and once in a while glancing at the view outside. You hesitate to talk to him. Probably he seems to be too old for you to befriend. Probably his wrinkles, his worn-out suit and his silence make him seemingly unapproachable. Probably he will just ignore you because you are like a shallow-minded spring chicken to him if you try to get his attention. Probably, probably.The Book of Disquiet is a revelation about a man similar to what I have just described above. During his lifetime, Fernando Pessoa, using one of his many heteronyms (fictional names of writers with points of view and literary styles different from that of Pessoa's) of Bernardo Soares wrote his thoughts and feelings on sheets of papers or even napkins and put these writing in one box. When he died, his relatives saw these sheets of papers and 50 years after his death, this book was published. And oh boy, if you only have the courage to befriend an old man and ignore your personal bias about having a friend a lot older (or younger) than you, it would have been an exhilarating experience. The man sitting in that cafe is a wonderful guy with deeply philosophical thoughts. He is a dreamer and in his dreams he does all sorts of mind-boggling thinking that I end up dogearing half of the pages of this book because there are so many beautiful, beautiful passages about life. Those quotes seem like poetry in prose to me. So far, the best 1001 book that I've read this year. Thanks to my brother Joselito for highly recommending this book to me. He read this in his Kindle last year and when he saw a copy in Powerbooks, he texted me right away saying that I must go to that bookstore immediately and buy (because I don't have a Kindle) this lone copy. He said that this book was the best 1001 he read last year. This book is not for everyone though. One has to slow down while reading to savor the beauty of Pessoa's prose. In fact, it took me almost a full month to finish this book but I must say that all the many hours I spent in it were all well-spent.Highly recommended to all those who have the patience to know fragmented yet beautiful thoughts of an old philosophical man.

  • Emad Attili
    2019-04-25 07:14

    ‏“We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It's our own concept—our own selves—that we love.”OMG! This is the best book I’ve read in a loooooooong time! I was thinking that I would never have a favorite writer other than Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or a favorite book other than The Brothers Karamazov. Fernando Pessoa and his Book of Disquiet changed that!I’m shocked, but I have to say this: from now on, Pessoa (along with Dostoyevsky) is my favorite writer, and The Book of Disquiet (along with TBK) is my favorite book!Pessoa is the one who created the term "heteronyms" (many different independent selves which exist within a single person – alter-egos). Pessoa had 73 different alter-egos! The most famous three were: Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. Each one of these selves held independent (mostly extreme and unpopular) views, and these three alter egos wrote in styles completely different from Pessoa’s style!That why it is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are: Fernando Pessoa!!In this wonderful autobiography (which Pessoa called: The Factless Autobiography) Pessoa introduced his views on life and destiny – along with so many things. His views are so deep and mind-blowing that I nearly quoted and highlighted the whole book!! Every word is worth quoting!I loved it soooo much! And I’m sooo happy that I found such a wonderful writer, and such an AMAZING book! It is, by far, the BEST book I’ve read this year (and maybe the best book I’ve ever read)!LOVE YOU, PESSOA!

  • Huda Yahya
    2019-05-20 03:55

    In utter solitude ..I reread this sacred piece of art <3 ========================================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 for 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.In these languid and empty hours, a sadness felt by my entire being rises from my soul to my mind – a bitter awareness that everythingis a sensation of mine and at the same time somethingexternal, something not in my power to change.But the contrast doesn’t overwhelm me, it frees me.And its irony is my blood. His voice was hesitant and colourless , as in those who hope for nothing because it's perfectly useless to hope .He never belonged to a crowed. The circumstances of his life were marked by that strange but rather common phenomenon-perhaps in fact, it's true for all lives-of being TAILORED to the image and likeness of his instincts, which tended towards INERTIA and WITHDRAWAL .

  • Jonathan
    2019-05-13 09:18

    I found this last night, which I scribbled down about 8 years ago when I first read this. I will let it stand as is: *******************I am reading a new translation of 'The Book of Disquiet' by Fernando Pessoa. These fragments shoved in a trunk speak in a voice so close to my own, secret, internal wanderings that I feel like a shadow slowly recognising the body it follows. This is not to suggest I am anything near his genius but simply that he writes what I remember feeling, or I remember feeling their rough, uncertain edges at my few precious moments of precision... "We generally give to our ideas about the unknown the color of our notions about what we do know: If we call death a sleep it's because it has the appearance of sleep; if we call death a new life, it's because it seems different from life. We build our beliefs and hopes out of these small misunderstandings with reality and live off husks of bread we call cakes, the way poor children play at being happy.But that's how all life is; at least that's how the particular way of life generally known as civilization is. Civilization consists in giving an inappropriate name to something and then dreaming what results from that. And in fact the false name and the true dream do create a new reality. The object really does become other, because we have made it so. We manufacture realities. We use the raw materials we always used but the form lent it by art effectively prevents it from remaining the same. A table made out of pinewood is a pinetree but it is also a table. We sit down at the table not at the pinetree. ..."This reminds me of Heidegger's comment that when we sit at our table to eat we are not sitting at 'A' table, but 'The' (or 'This') table - it is burdened with memories and language (although some would say they are the same thing) and that the Being of my table is something only I can give it. I used to think a lot about how 'The' Universe existed only for, and in, me...There is, of course, something that is 'The Universe' and will run me over if I cross the road without looking, but the only one I can 'Know' or 'Experience' is the one created within me by my brain. Which means my universe, and my table, are unique and that my death will be their death too...I am truly a destroyer (and a creator) of worlds..*********************I find it funny I was having the same rambling Heidegger thoughts then as I just had on my review of McElroy's Ancient History. Apparently my brain is just going round and round in circles...I also now take something a little different from the quote - much more about the way language and naming operate to prevent "open" interactions with Things.