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Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet is a map of self-awareness and dreaming, of living to write.

1. “Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”

2. “We all have two lives: The true, the one we dreamed of in childhood and go on dreaming of as adults in a substratum of mist; the false, the one we love when we live with others, the practical, the useful, the one we end up by being put in a coffin.”

3. “I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life.”

4. “To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarate, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning it into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat — some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself.”

5. “Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality — it’s all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.”

6. “The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd — the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”

7. “Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally. The end result is what matters. What one felt was what one experienced.”

Note: All quotes from The Book of Disquiet.



About The Author

David Miller

David Miller is Senior Editor of Matador (winner of 2010 and 2011 Lowell Thomas awards for travel journalism) and Director of Curricula at MatadorU. Follow him @dahveed_miller.


    I prefer to read Fernando Pessoa in portuguese :). In my travel to Lisbon I discovered his statue and later his live, and he was a great writter, the people should read more about him. Thanks for sharing.

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