isolation

“There is a great virtue in such an isolation. It permits a fair interval for thought. That is, what I call thinking, which is mainly scribbling. It has always been during the act of scribbling that I have gotten most of my satisfactions.”

(William Carlos Wiliiams, forward to The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, unpaginated.)

finishing things (3)

“Knowing that work will never be finished is bad. Worse, nevertheless, is never-done work. The work that we do, at least, is left done. It may be poor, but it exists, like the miserable plant in the only pot my crippled neighbor has. The plant is her joy – sometimes it’s mine as well. What I write, and recognize to be bad, can also supply a few moments of distraction from worse things to one or another sorrowful or sad spirit. It’s enough for me, or it’s not enough, but in some way it’s useful, and that’s the way my whole life is.

A tedium that includes the anticipation of just more tedium; the grief, already, of grieving tomorrow for having grieved today – great, useless entanglements possessing no truth, great entanglements . . .

. . . where, huddled on a bench in the railway station, my disdain sleeps in the mantle of my despondency . . .

. . . the world of dreamed images that makes up both my understanding and my life . . .

The scruple of the present moment neither weighs on me nor lasts within me. I hunger to extend time, and I want to be myself without any conditions.”

(Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, from note 240 in Alfred Mac Adam’s translation, which is note 320 in Maria Aliete Galhoz & Teresa Sobral Cunha’s edition of the Livro do Desassossego.)

finishing things (2)

“We know full well that the entire work has to be imperfect and that the least secure of our aesthetic contemplations will be the one we write about. But everything is imperfect: there is no sunset so beautiful that it couldn’t be more so, or light breeze that brings us sleep that couldn’t give us an even calmer sleep. And so, contemplators equally of mountains and statues, enjoying days as we enjoy books, dreaming everything, just to turn it into our intimate substance, we shall also make descriptions and analyses, which, once made, will become alien things, which we can enjoy, as if we had seen them in the afternoon.”

(Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, from note 153 in Alfred Mac Adam’s translation, which is note 176 in Maria Aliete Galhoz & Teresa Sobral Cunha’s edition of the Livro do Desassossego.)

finishing things (1)

“I’m always horrified whenever I finish anything. Horrified and desolate. My instinct for perfection should inhibit me from ever finishing anything; it should in fact inhibit me from ever beginning. But I become distracted and do things. My accomplishments are not the product of my applied will but a giving away of my will. I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have soul enough to stop things. This book is my cowardice.”

(Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, from note 151 in Alfred Mac Adam’s translation, which is note 190 in Maria Aliete Galhoz & Teresa Sobral Cunha’s edition of the Livro do Desassossego.)