Mustering up courage, I wait out the day in a sunny cafe, the world gaping from the windows. Hard drinks in the afternoon as I rehearse what I am going to say. Once escorted out of a bar by the beach, blacked out; now shakes of a different kind. One more drink to champion the everyday in me and perfect a worked-on effortlessness. Long swallow, with minutes to go I survey the site, twice, then one more time around the block to let the alcohol seep down to my fingertips. The world still gawking, the cosmos on high alert, all doors waiting to be opened.
I enter into society an unfinished man. In the rush of new encounters I am swept away by those who like rapids to my defiant rock, slam. The bottle in hand is the only tactile reality, if I stay quiet, may disappear completely. So I start talking to these faces, discolored ambient sockets of life, circuits of words blinking on and off, carrying on their own conversation. I am on fire, burning through a field of words in search of an anecdote. How cheaply my soul is given to break the ice, to those in the heat of energy expended playing out their reciprocating gestures, but off hours, in sober shops, to pass as strangers.
At some kink in the night, the attention bends back on me. A drunken woman I scarcely knew in high school but knows me apparently, in slurred celebration to talents I one time had, confesses an affection to me and my art. How loudly important both were to her imagined life, though I am almost certain she has me confused with someone else. But does it matter? Who am I in that moment anyways, but the reflection of some salved disquiet to bear witness to. There and always tucked in our own cells, clinking the bars with our glasses, wafting odes to some nostalgic past when we were free and formless, to be anything conjured now.
A glass raised in toast: long may we live to conceive our sad histories, to quake in love over nothing at all, live wholly in the dimples and freckles of time, and accept the wild varieties that wish to claim us!
Before the revelation wears off, I am released back into the fray. Happily evaporating beneath the timid stars, I leave absorbed, an errant thought in someone’s misremembered memory.
“But my self-imposed exile from life’s actions and objectives and my attempt to break off all contact with things led precisely to what I tried to escape. I didn’t want to feel life or to touch anything real, for the experience of my temperament in contact with the world had taught me that the sensation of life was always painful to me. But in isolating myself to avoid that contact, I exacerbated my already overwrought sensibility. If it were possible to cut off completely all contact with things, then my sensibility would pose no problem. But this total isolation cannot be achieved. However little I do, I still breathe; however little I act, I still move. And so, having exacerbated my sensibility through isolation, I found that the tiniest things, which even for me had been perfectly innocuous, began to wrack me like catastrophes. I chose the wrong method of escape. I fled via an uncomfortable and roundabout route to end up at the same place I’d started from, with the fatigue of my journey added to the horror of living there.”
The Book of Disquiet - Fernando Pessoa (chapter 462)
Been writing something for a month, writing, revising, writing, revising. What was the point? Fernando said it long ago and better than I could ever try to. ”weary of gods just about to exist”… ahhhhhh.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it – without knowing why. And since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgments based on feeling instead of reason, most of those young people chose Humanity to replace God. I, however, am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to, seeing not only the multitude he’s a part of but also the wide-open spaces around it. that’s why I didn’t give up God as completely as they did, and I never accepted Humanity. I reasoned that God, while improbable, might exist, in which case he should be worshipped; whereas Humanity, being a mere biological idea and signifying nothing more than the animal species we belong to, was no more deserving of worship than any other animal species. The cult of Humanity, with its rites of Freedom and Equality always struck me as a revival of those ancient cults in which gods were like animals or had animal heads.
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. Could it think, the heart would stop beating.
For those few like me who live without knowing how to have life, what’s left but renunciation as our way and contemplation as our destiny? Not knowing nor able to know what religious life is, since faith isn’t acquired through reason, and unable to have faith in or even react to the abstract notion of man, we’re left with the aesthetic contemplation of life as our reason for having a soul.”
Fernando Pessoa, opening paragraphs of THE BOOK OF DISQUIET
“Only what we dream is what we truly are, because all the rest, having been realized, belongs to the world and to everyone.”
Fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet (via gwyon)
Fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet