I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense urge to smash the skull of a kitten with my bare hand and licking its streaming viscera off my arm but as soon as I pictured the lines of viscera traveling the length of my arm they started burning my actual arm and when I examined it I found angry parallel lines marking my skin and I started scratching them violently and they opened up like flowering vaginas that were nurturing tiny spiders and now gave birth to them and I started screaming and slapping the spiders catching a score with every slap and squashing them into a pulp and my blood and the spiders’ intermixed and fused and I thought I’ve become a spider man then I thought no I’ve become a cat man and then I thought this can’t be real this must be a dream and as soon as I thought that thought I relaxed and I smiled at the illusionary silly spiders and then I transformed them into butterflies and the butterflies flew into my mouth and down my throat one after another and started fluttering inside my stomach and that made me finally understand what that means and after that I felt the dream had reached its end so I woke myself up and when I opened my eyes I found the skull of a cat crushed inside my open calm palm and this time it was no dream.
I dread getting in the bus in the morning. It’s exhausting at that hour when I’m still half occupying the world of dreams and I sit down there and reality materializes in front of me and slaps me rudely on the face to wake me up and force me to join it. And it is there in the bus that I see people forcing themselves to go do their dehumanizing jobs. It is there that I can feel the alienation emanating from them. I can see it in their faces that are resembling more and more the cogs they were recast as, I can feel it in their movements that are becoming automated by the day. The bus arrives and I get in anyway. I have no other choice, it’s the bus that takes me everyday on my way to slave away my life so I can live like a free man. No, to have the illusion of living like a free man. This life is no freedom.
I rest my head on the window and close my eyes. I take myself far away from that suffocating congestion, to an idyllic village where I can roam the fields and breath the air. I pick up a camellia and caress its soft petals with my finger. I submerge it in the pleasantly cold river and feel the gentle pressure of the flow pushing on my hand and the delicate flower. I let it drift away not sure if I’m burying it or setting it free. I walk for a while in the greenness and then I lie down in the shade of an oak tree and join my soul to the song of a colony of musical warblers flirting and calling to one another. But again reality wakes me up and this time with a screech in my ear. Ah, I can’t even escape to my dreams.
If I can’t dream maybe I can hope. Sometimes I try to. Sometimes I hope things will get better when I know they won’t. Other times I hope I have the courage to face the world and end this misery but I know I don’t. So I give up even hoping and I keep on slaving. I keep on living.
I look at the sky and I see stars and
it’s so lonely down here but
I bet it’s just as lonely up there
I roll a joint and put it in my mouth
I light it up and inhale the earth
It saturates my brain and my mind
I look again at the sky and it’s so high
and it’s not so lonely anymore
I can sense the stars I can hear
their music and their talk
and I turn and I see the shining belly
of the moon
I can feel her smile and joke and laugh
it’s soothing it’s comforting but I know
I know it’s fucking fake
but let me relax while I can
let me forget let me get lost
in the mirage
I can face the shitty world tomorrow
but not tonight not tonight
tonight my mind belongs to the
stars to the moon to the
sky to the clouds
It took me a long time to finish this book. Not because it was difficult to read or boring or anything like that. Not at all. Reading this book was a ritual for me. For me and my then-girlfriend. We used to read it together every night. Afterward, we’d share with each other our favorite passages. Discuss them if there’s something to discuss, how we related to them, what they meant to us. Or just talk about how beautiful they are. How very sad they are. Yet they didn’t make us feel sad. They comforted us because finding some of our inner struggles and thoughts written down on paper so eloquently and sagaciously made us feel connected to someone. To Pessoa. And to each other. That made the book a meaningful and intimate experience. I loved that. I missed that when it ended. I missed it a lot. I took a break. A long one. I couldn’t get back to it. I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. It felt empty. Just words on a page. The blathering of a lonely sad man. But then, after a while, I forced myself. At first, it was difficult to go back. But day after day after day I started to lose myself in the words. I used them to cover the sadness. The emptiness. And they often did a good job. A great job. They started to do more than covering. They started to get inside and fill me within. And strangely, but perhaps not so surprisingly, I began to appreciate the poetic prose of Pessoa all the more. Much more than before. I began to taste the despair needled in every word, and the sweetness and saltiness that enveloped every sentence. Maybe it was due to an increased self-awareness or perhaps the genesis of a more discerning, resuscitated soul. Whatever the reason was, it made me recognize more clearly the truth in the disquiet that marked the pages, agree more readily with Pessoa that life is as absurd and tedious as he makes it appear to be, identify immanently with his cynical and resigned worldview, and, most importantly, it allowed me to be revitalized by his ironic and hopelessly hopeful attitude. So if you ask me today what’s your favorite book I’d tell you with no hesitation: the Book of Disquiet.
I was a fly. I looked down at my hands and they were like tiny little pricks and my insect wings were light and fast. I thought it would be fun to fly around unbothered. After a while though flying became as boring as everything else in life. I needed a drink. I took off at full speed then I bumped into something silky but sticky. I was caught in a spider web. I tried to wiggle free but the harder I squirmed the more entangled I got. I raised my ugly head and saw two deep wells of darkness staring at me hungrily and I shat my pants. It started toward me and all I could do was wait for it to rip me to pieces and consume me. It grabbed me raised its hideous fangs and… I woke up.
I woke up from the nightmare drenched in sweat surrounded by my sad and cheap room. I removed my soiled pants and tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t so I started stroking my penis. Then a fly landed on the bed. I liked that, it kept me company. I kept on going up and down my dick until I let fly and the fly flied with the cum. I used my dirty pants to clean up the sticky mess then I got back to sleep, naked alone and fucked.
Tell me, friend, do you really like your life or are you just pretending that you do? Why are you laughing, it’s a serious question. Well, here’s what I think: I think you want to like it so bad you’ve deluded yourself into thinking that you actually do. Because really what’s there to like? It’s just a boring monotonous struggle. You live basically the same life day after day: you eat the same food; you meet the same people; you read the same books; you watch the same shows. And after a while it all just becomes unbearably tedious. And that’s not even the worst thing about it. Boredom by itself can be overcome. But life is so cruel it’s conspired to confer upon us an insecure psych. So insecure that we can’t even endure the dispiriting world as we are. If you don’t believe me look inside yourself and you’ll see that I’m right. You’ll find that you’re so vulnerable you can’t even be authentic. Not on the outside. That every morning after you wash your face you put your many fake masks on. To hide your vulnerabilities, to cover your insecurities, to pretend that you’re strong enough to live, capable enough to face the misery. And guess what, it’s not just you, everyone else does it too. You’re a fake surrounded by fakes living in a big fake world. You’re laughing at me again. Is that all you know how to do? Deep down you know I’m right, though. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not moralizing here. I’m not presuming that I have a solution to this existence. I’m just telling it how it is. So don’t stop pretending, never stop pretending, because that’s the only way we know how to bear it all.
You find yourself lost in the sea of chaos that is life where you have no control or direction. You’re jostled left and right by the caprices of fate like a shellfish in a tornado. You’re suffering and you can’t keep living like that. You need something to orient you, to make you feel that you have at least some semblance of control. But it’s difficult. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. So instead of going through that disarray, instead of braving the storm and taking control of your messy inner being, it’s much easier to just give yourself the illusion of control. So you use others and control them. You bully your friends. You get married and rule over your spouse. You have kids and boss them around. You exercise your powers and ignore your weeping soul. Who has the time and energy to placate it and strengthen it, anyway. The road to power is way easier and much more attractive too. And the deeper you go into it the more intoxicating it becomes. How delightful it is to tyrannize over some helpless workers. How enjoyable are the feelings of dominance that flow through your veins while punishing an obedient subject. Power. It’s delicious. It’s the answer to your weakness. It’s pure potency. But then why do you alway feel hungry for more. Why are you never satisfied. Never fulfilled. Then it hits you like a hungry great white shark: it’s all a sham. You’re still no more in control than the tossed around shellfish. So you breakdown. You despair. You let go of the leash you’ve been holding to with everything you’ve got, and with it all your powers and hopes. But wait, wait, there’s one thing you actually do control: your own life. So you take a gun, shove it down your throat, and pull the trigger.
the agony of this
as if it weren’t enough
of a struggle
just to wake up in the
morning and face the
not for them
they need to make it
(they’re obsessed with hell)
hell for others
they live in privilege
and they do it in the name of
they hide behind their
they hide behind their
and they force
a papyrus to guide
them and us
us and them
they make it
tell them how to
live behave act
To be a person. To become an individual. To find your selfhood. For me, that’s how to fully experience life. I’d imagine it’s the same for you. It is, isn’t it? For otherwise you aren’t living, are you? You aren’t being, are you? You’re just riding the wave of conformism. You’re just a brick in a wall. A fish in a school. A bee in a swarm. And is that a life? Tell me, is that a life worth living? Is it? Or is it just a numb existence? A pointless march? A wasted struggle? But how to be autonomous? How to be a self? Is that what you’re asking? Isn’t that the question. Well, how? How? Are you asking me to tell you? To tell you how? But don’t you see? Don’t you see? Don’t you see that by asking me you’re burying yourself? You’re giving up your autonomy? Don’t ask me! No. No. Don’t ask me. Ask yourself. Ask your soul. Explore your mind. Search for your being. Find your Self.
The Ship of Theseus sets sail in the sea of the universe maneuvering the gravitational waves and braving the perilous, eerie void. At the end of her first cosmic voyage she inspects herself and finds a part of her has been damaged by the elements of the cosmos, not too much to cause a disaster, but enough to require replacing the injured machinery with new, shining components. After the second journey, she finds that another part has been damaged and replaces that, too. And so it goes; after each voyage, old parts are continuously being replaced by newer ones. Until one day she discovers that all her old original material had been replaced. Is gone. So she stops mid-oceanic space with dread filling her whole frame and asks herself the age-old question: am I the Ship of Theseus or have I become an entirely different ship?
And so it is with us. Literally and figuratively. Our cells have relatively short lives; some of them don’t last days; some only months; while others are more tenacious and can withstand for years. But the fact remains that most of our body is constantly being renewed with healthier, fresher cells. Moreover, our minds regularly get revamped as well: we replace old ideas with new ones; abandon foolish beliefs; embrace new perspectives; and adopt more effective approaches. So it seems the same paradox might apply to humans too: am I the same person I was ten years ago, or even a year ago? Are you?