Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fernando Pessao

Started reading Fernando Pessao's The Book of Disquiet several months ago. Disquiet isn't a novel and doesn't have a plot. Instead, it's a multitude of short prose pieces -- pieces that are often melancholic, occasionally whimsical, beautifully written, and of an unsparing introspection.

Disquiet is the sort of book you can pick up, and dip in. But when it begins to read like a long and beautiful suicide note you know it is time to put Disquiet down. Time to think about something else, read something else. Like P G Woodhouse or Raymond Chandler. Which is what I did over a month ago.

But as that old adage goes: when the student is ready, the teacher appears. In this case, today, on page 297 of the Penguin Classics edition:
It's a rule of life that we can, and should, learn from everyone. There are solemn and serious things we can learn from quacks and crooks, there are philosophies taught us by fools, there are lessons in faithfulness and justice brought to us by chance and by those we chance to meet. Everything is in everything.
In certain particularly lucid moments of contemplation, like those of early afternoon when I observantly wander through the streets, each person brings me a novelty, each building teaches me something new, each placard has a message for me.
My silent stroll is a continual conversation, and all of us -- men, buildings, stores, placards and the sky -- are a huge friendly crowd, elbowing each other with words in the great procession of Destiny.
The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessao

Elsewhere, and later: Situationist Guy Debord's theory of the dérive

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