Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet

A novelized autobiography. An attempt to interiorize the indifference and absurdity of existing. A mirror through which one is conscious of consciousness itself; of everything that we live for – love, loss, happiness, sadness, melancholy, and comfort.

Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet is a book dreamt of in reality. Pessoa writes in crisp and vivid awareness of his thoughts. If life is tiresome and existence is monotonous, no one escapes from its clutches better than him.

The panorama of these entries stupefied me out of the tedium that is life. They’re written as if idyllic and ‘prophetic’, they’re not descriptions, they’re echos that make up for everything in life.

The Book of Disquiet has been on my shelf for over 2 years. I’ve read it twice. First, when it was a year old and now when it’s two. The pages have turned from white to a dullish, light shade of beige. The pages I had dog-eared from last year have imprinted themselves even when I try to flatten them.

What is more vivid is the earthy, smoky scent of the pages. Such memories are only intensified when a book finds you and not the other way around.

Fernando Pessoa has written The Book of Disquiet using a heteronym, a fictionalized author. Though the book doesn’t follow any underlying thematic structure or narrative, it is as comforting to read and understand. It’s as if a light breeze moves through you; the force of which touches you just enough to tickle your senses. It’s about imagination, nature, society, politics, religion, and aestheticism.

The most enlightening of them all is to possess the imagination to dream.

Pessoa writes,

“How painful everything is when we think of it as conscious thinkers, as reflective beings whose consciousness has reached a stage by which we know that we know. To think or to feel?”

The answer lies in renunciation but even that, because of our futile sensations, is not satisfying just so long as we remain alive.

Cutting a path through the obscure forest of life, we manifest the weariness from having to live. It wakes us up from reality into this restful state of dreaming where we can finally live out everything we are capable of possessing and will ever possess.

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