Download Fileshare.ro_fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet PDF

TitleFileshare.ro_fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet
Tags Philosophical Science
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Total Pages314
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Page 157

Everything is absurd. One man spends his life earning and saving up money, al-
though he has no children to leave it to nor any hope that some heaven might
reserve him a transcendent portion. Another man strives to gain posthumous
fame without believing in an afterlife that would give him knowledge of that
fame. Yet another wears himself out in pursuit of things he doesn’t really care
for. Then there’s one who .....

One man reads so as to learn, uselessly. Another man enjoys himself so as to
live, uselessly.

I’m riding on a tram and, as usual, am closely observing all the details of the
people around me. For me these details are like things, voices, phrases. Taking
the dress of the girl in front of me, I break it down into the fabric from which it’s
made and the work that went into making it (such that I see a dress and not just
fabric), and the delicate embroidery that trims the collar decomposes under my
scrutiny into the silk thread with which it was embroidered and the work it took
to embroider it. And immediately, as in a textbook of basic economics, factories
and jobs unfold before me: the factory where the cloth was made; the factory
where the darker-coloured silk was spun to trim with curlicues its place around
the neck; the factories’ various divisions, the machines, the workers, the seam-
stresses. My inwardly turned eyes penetrate into the offices, where I see the
managers trying to stay calm, and I watch everything being recorded in the ac-
count books. But that’s not all: I see beyond all this to the private lives of those
who live their social existence in these factories and offices. The whole world
opens up before my eyes merely because in front of me – on the nape of a dark-
skinned neck whose other side has I don’t know what face – I see a regularly ir-
regular dark-green embroidery on a light-green dress.

All humanity’s social existence lies before my eyes.

And beyond this I sense the loves, the secrets and the souls of all who laboured
so that the woman in front of me in the tram could wear, around her mortal
neck, the sinuous banality of a dark-green silk trim on a less-dark-green cloth.

I get dizzy. The seats in the tram, made of tough, close-woven straw, take me to
distant places and proliferate in the form of industries, workers, their houses,
lives, realities, everything.

I get off the tram dazed and exhausted. I’ve just lived all of life.


Every time I go somewhere, it’s a vast journey. A train trip to Cascais* tires me
out as if in this short time I’d travelled through the urban and rural landscapes of
four or five countries.

I imagine myself living in each house I pass, each chalet, each isolated cottage
whitewashed with lime and silence – happy at first, then bored, then fed up. It all
happens in a moment, and as soon as I’ve abandoned one of these homes, I’m
filled with nostalgia for the time I lived there. And so every trip I make is a
painful and happy harvest of great joys, great boredoms, and countless false

And as I pass by those houses, villas and chalets, I also live the daily lives of all
their inhabitants, living them all at the same time. I’m the father, mother, sons,
cousins, the maid and the maid’s cousin, all together and all at once, thanks to
my special talent for simultaneously feeling various and sundry sensations, for
simultaneously living the lives of various people – both on the outside, seeing
them, and on the inside, feeling them.

Page 158

I’ve created various personalities within. I constantly create personalities. Each
of my dreams, as soon as I start dreaming it, is immediately incarnated in anoth-
er person, who is then the one dreaming it, and not I.

To create, I’ve destroyed myself. I’ve so externalized myself on the inside that I
don’t exist there except externally. I’m the empty stage where various actors act
out various plays.



In my dream on the deck I shuddered: a chilling presentiment ran through my
Far-away Prince’s soul.

A noisy, threatening silence invaded the room’s visible atmosphere like a livid

It all comes down to a harsh, troubling brilliance in the moonlight over the ocean
that no longer tosses but still waves. Though I still couldn’t hear them, it became
clear that there were cypresses next to the Prince’s palace.

The sword of the first lightning bolt vaguely whirled in the beyond. The moon-
light over the high sea is the colour of lightning, and what it all means is that the
palace of the prince I never was is now ruins in a distant past.

As the ship draws near with a sullen sound, the room lividly darkens, and he
didn’t die, nor is he captive, but I don’t know what has become of him, the
prince. What cold and unknown thing is his destiny now?


The only way you can have new sensations is by forging a new soul. It’s useless
to try to feel new things without feeling them in a new way, and you can’t feel in
a new way without changing your soul. For things are what we feel they are –
how long have you known this without yet knowing it? – and the only way for
there to be new things, for us to feel new things, is for there to be some novelty
in how we feel them.

Change your soul. How? That’s for you to figure out.

From the time we’re born until we die, our soul slowly changes, like the body.
Find a way to make it change faster, even as our body changes more rapidly
when suffering or recovering from certain diseases.

We should never stoop down to delivering lectures, lest anyone think we have
opinions or would condescend to speak with the public. Let the public read us, if
they wish.

The lecturer, moreover, resembles an actor – an errand boy of Art, a figure de-
spised by any good artist.


I’ve discovered that I’m always attentive to, and always thinking about, two
things at the same time. I suppose everyone is a bit like that. Certain impres-
sions are so vague that only later, because we remember them, do we even real-
ize we had them. I believe these impressions form a part – perhaps the internal
part – of the dual attention we all possess. In my case the two realities that hold
my attention are equally vivid. This is what constitutes my originality. This, per-
haps, is what constitutes my tragedy, and what makes it comic.

Hunched over the ledger, I attentively record the entries that tell the useless his-
tory of an obscure firm, while at the same time and with equal attention my

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