I am preparing myself to read the Book of Disquiet.
This book — I hesitate to apply the term “novel” — was written by a self-effacing Portuguese poet named Fernando Pessoa. He is a giant literary figure in Lisbon. Despite having been to Lisbon, albeit under the enlightened rule of Santos Costa, I have never heard of him, let alone read this book. To filch from one of the greatest revenge films of all time, that is a situation that shall now be “remedied.”
After cycling through quotes and pastiches about Disquiet in various and sundry WP blogs, as well as aperçus such as this, or this, or even this (despite its agenda), the pre reveal is that Pessoa’s a book to be read in bandersnatches, perhaps while in, say, the bathroom, or waiting for bad news in a doctor’s office, or while sitting alone under a thundercloud at a bus stop in Faro: it appears to consist mainly of aphorisms, that one must ruminate over with reverent consideration, and is framed in some complicated way by one or more of the literary schizoid alter egos that Pessoa liked to use.
Though I am not personally fond of stunts, when it comes to fiction, I am enamored by aphorisms, since practically anyone can write these on the fly, in particular me, which validates, briefly, my pointless existence.
So, to delay the burdensome chore of actually reading the Book of Disquiet, I shall now waste some of the little time that is left to me in this miserable life by composing some of my own aphorisms. I intend these to be bitter, melancholic, choleric, and random, yet full of the sweet and patient wisdom that old age blessedly confers.
No more Mr. Nasty. They’ll just peg you as an embittered cunt, and you will not be promoted; nor will you get to dance with the queen of the bal. This does not apply to anyone cynical enough to be a politician. In such cases, lies, insults, falso smiles and scowls will work best.
If someone pretends not to hear you when you are talking directly to them at a table full of people, slap them hard in the face, get up, and walk away without saying a word to them ever again.
Never masturbate on Fridays.
Always remember that your clandestine lovers have moved on. They have lives apart from you: wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, jobs, illicit secrets; even if they are as lost as you are, in, as the lemon phrase goes, a cold, cruel and uncaring world. They just fake it better, and would not consider in a million years doing the Aaron Hernandez in the confined little cell that defines their slimy existence
Donald Trump, Ivanka, and the rest of it are completely irrelevant. to you, as you are to them. The sooner you grasp this, the happier you shall be.
Never feel sorry for yourself. No one else does.
Do not keep a blog. Not only are blogs, particularly erudite ones, completely yesterday, but they reveal too much to the world about you. The whole idea in life is to be as secretive as possible, while appearing to be open, so that you can pretend that you are more mysterious than you really are. The scope of your true imagination is yours alone to enjoy.
If there is a God, he is capricious and cruel, but never indifferent.
In the end, what really matters is whether you are living your life on your terms. To do this, you must study Adorno for at least a decade, and write abstruse philosophical tracts that you keep in a trunk in your study, and burn when you decide to move to some remote Indonesian island for the rest of your life.
They say if you want a friend, get a dog. They are wrong. Dogs die. That is not the act of a friend.
Your primary goal in life should be confirmed long-term indolence.
Here is the final one:
By the time you reach my age, if you are lucky to get that far, you may in one blindingly lucid moment, realize that you have to completely and inexorably write off the last 50 years of your life. You shall exhibit no pity, no weakness, no mercy, no soft spot, nor shall you give in to the tug of nostalgia. You have seen through it all for years anyway. Now you shall act, before it is too late. You shall leave it all behind you; it means nothing anyway. Only then will you finally be free of every last illusion, and lead whatever is left of your wretched life on your terms. The trick is not to be a dick about it; and never deliberately harm anyone in any way, if at all possible.
I’m turning off the aphorism generator.
I’m taking a shower now, then will settle down in the dead of night and let Pessoa give me a run for the money.
He’s most likely better at this than I.
PS As a bonus, this highly literate blogger recommended Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains, as a companion to Disquiet. Given that Mohsin Hamid also extols this book (according to some Amazon reviewer), though no doubt reluctantly, I shall Kindle this, and read it on the beach in Gouna this Fall. And since I will be passing through France, Mathias Énard‘s Zone (because of the Malcolm Lowry connection, mostly) or the newer Compas seem like equally good bets.