Fernando Pessoa: The Book of Disquiet

06 November 2019

We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It’s our own concept – our own selves – that we love.

This is true in the whole gamut of love. In sexual love we seek our own pleasure via another body. In non-sexual love, we seek our own pleasure via our own idea. The masturbator may be abject, but in point of fact he’s the perfect logical expression of the lover. He’s the only one who doesn’t feign and doesn’t fool himself. The relations between one soul and another, expressed through such uncertain and variable things as sharedwords and profered gestures, are deceptively complex. The very act of meeting each other is a non-meeting.

Two people say ‘I love you’ or mutually think it and feel it, and each has in mind a diferent idea, a diferent life, perhaps even a diferent colour or fragrance, in the abstract sum of impressions that constitute the soul’s activity.

Today I’m lucid as if I didn’t exist. My thinking is as naked as a skeleton, without the feshly tatters of the illusion of expression. And these considerations that I forge and abandon weren’t born from anything – at least not from anything in the front rows of my consciousness. Perhaps it was the sales representative’s disillusion with his girlfriend, perhaps a sentence I read in one of the romantic tales that our newspapers reprint from the foreign press, or perhaps just a vague nausea for which I can think of no physical cause… The scholiast who annotated Virgil was wrong. Understanding is what wearies us most of all. To live is to not think.

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