Reading Pessoa


A man in search of meaning of his experiences, his mind, his thoughts and his life, relentlessly and compulsively, is how Pessoa comes across. Reading him in these times isn’t as difficult because his gaze seems inward and within. In his prose there is searching, there is churn and then there is no resolution. That sometimes is the appeal – no resolution! 

It has been a couple of months since his The Book of Disquiet has sat on my bookshelf. The name mirroring my life lately. It is hard to grasp the expanse of his concerns when one looks at the oeuvre. However, his words do not fail to convey the intensity of experiences, the trials of life his characters endure and the complexity of it all, when contained within a person. I read torment in his words. I feel compassion and subdued admiration of life in his ideas. And beneath all this, it is as though a steady stream of futility of life and living flows. That stream intimidates. What if the reader too comes to the same conclusion as Pessoa about futility? How would one carry on, from that point of realisation?

The lines that seem very close and identifiable are these – 

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible, nostalgia for what was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.

Pessoa’s is literature of incompleteness. For some its appeal is just this quality. 

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