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Archive for October, 2008

Another on Pessoa

Leafing through The Book of Disquiet a couple of nights ago, I found the exact phrase “nostalgia for the future”, the title of my post on him. I know it’s been used before, and it’s precisely the kind of paradox you’d expect from Pessoa.

And yet what nostalgia for the future* if I let my ordinary eyes receive the dead salutation of the declining day! How grand is hope’s burial, advancing in the still golden hush of the stagnant skies! What a procession of voids and nothings extends over the reddish blue that will pale in the vast expanses of crystalline space!

I don’t know what I want or don’t want. I’ve stopped wanting, stopped knowing how to want, stopping knowing the emotions or thoughts by which people generally recognise that they want something or want to to want it. I don’t know who I am or what I am. Like someone buried under a collapsed wall, I lie under the toppled vacuity of the entire universe. And so I go on, in the wake of myself, until night sets in and a little of the comfort of being different wafts, like a breeze, over my incipient self-unawareness**.

Ah, the high and larger moon of these placid nights, torpid with anguish and disquiet! Sinister peace of the heavens’ beauty, cold irony of the warm air, blue blackness misted by moonlight and reticent to reveal stars.

From 184.

*an alternate version reads: “what regret that I’m not someone else”

**an alternate version reads: “incipient impatience with myself”

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Wasting my boredom

The most nagging problem in my life, the most central source of unhappiness, is the fact that I want the slowness of time that boredom brings, the stasis and silence, the stopping of time, the sense of time not passing, and yet I always end up doing things and filling up my time with things that make it pass quickly, things that distract me from its passing. Or I sleep, which is the worst of all. Boredom is not necessarily inactivity. It is the confrontation of time and its passing.

In other words, I waste my boredom.

How could I slow time down more? By removing as many things as possible from my life: my books, my films, the computer, everything except perhaps music, which accompanies my boredom like a soundtrack instead of distracting me from it. No, even music could go, if I really wanted austerity. But what about my notebooks and my writing?

When time has passed too quickly, when I have squandered my boredom, the ache and remorse I feel present themselves in the form of this thought: that in this lost, passed time, I could have written something.

I am sure, though, that writing is the only activity that both keeps boredom at bay and allows my time to pass without remorse. And this is because I feel productive.

(I remember somewhere Elytis describing time as being that which takes you closer to or farther from the thing you love.)

For me, the white page, the page that remains white as the clock ticks, is a symbol of remorse.

*

A large part of remorse is finding yourself again at some point which you should have left behind. Once again at the blank page, leaving it blank yet again. Once again leaving the notebook unopened. The waste is that you can never learn from experience: I am still here: I have learned nothing from all the conscience-pangs.

Some people want to fill pages without writing, and others want to write without filling pages. This occurred to me the other night, but I don’t remember which one I am. Or if they’re not really the same thing.

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