“Heat, like an invisible piece of clothing, makes one feel like taking it off.”

“The search for truth–be it the subjective truth or belief, the objective truth of reality, or the social truth of money or power–always confers, on the searcher who merits a prize, the ultimate knowledge of its non-existence. The grand prize of life goes only to those who bought tickets by chance.
The value of art is that it takes us away from here.”

–Fernando Pessoa – The Book of Disquiet

Fernando Pessoa has been on my mind, specifically The Book of Disquiet; more generally, how he had many pseudo-selves that he referred to as heteronyms, aspects of himself that he dreamed up with different backgrounds, personalities–complete extensions of himself to give voice to the different parts within his psyche: Self and not-Self

Where this idea resonates with me is how different aspects of my own personality come through in my writing depending on what, who, and why I’m writing; also my mood colors everything I do, think, and in turn, write. Though, I do not have different selves that I have created with their own backgrounds, etc., I do sense or feel different reflections of myself on the page at different times. It’s hard to explain, which is why Pessoa makes sense to me.

Though I can’t say that I have read much of Pessoa, parts of what I have read resonate with me. I first came across this book when fellow blogger, Vincent, introduced me to him through one of his blogs a couple of years back. It was shortly after his recommendation of The Book of Disquiet that I ordered a copy of my own.

Once I had my hands on the book, I was fascinated and at the same time felt a connection. How fascinating to read that this man–Fernando Pessoa–had created so many selves and to think that most of the work that would become The Book of Disquiet was found in his trunk in the form of prose, notes, plays, philosophy, and so much more.

I’m drawn to Pessoa’s seeming ability to consistently write in the moment. I’ve witnessed over the years in my own writing, mostly pre-blog times, and when I let loose. But, I’ve noticed that it’s inevitable for me not to become self-conscious when it comes to my writing. I’ve noticed a shift. There are times in the past when I wrote–when I may have had more time, made more time, sometimes no time–when I found inspiration more easily, more readily.

And when I turn this on it’s side, I’ve asked myself, what else has changed? I can’t really say for sure, except that I simply need to keep my pen moving and stop looking back.

That’s where it gets tricky, because there are several pieces that I have written or started in the past, yet never putting the pieces on my blog. I feel as though I’m in this constant state of looking back, being in the present, and peeking forward to the future. It’s not a bad thing exactly–what I notice though that as time goes on, is that I change, my thoughts change, what I’ve written is from another period of time, another part of my history, and these parts of myself die off in a way and that feels strange. Some parts live and make it to somewhere and others never get a chance.

And in some cases, I come across a piece of my writing where I can sense that I wasn’t self-conscious, that I wasn’t over-thinking–I was just writing, as I imagine Pessoa did, without a care, freely allowing his raw and refined thought to flow out.

I also have perfectionistic tendencies and I think that gets in my way too…but it’s more. It’s an awareness that now I’ve crossed over into the realm where writer of private and wild thoughts, writing for self alone, also enjoys sharing, and even though she writes for herself, she knows there are other eyes that will land on the page and that part is what she thinks, at times, causes a freeze and at the same time, she doesn’t write as often as she used to in her private journals and she wonders…it is because she has nothing more to say. That very thought is like a death sentence and she knows deep down it’s not true; she mustn’t utter those words.

No matter what, she knows that part of her process–and here she hears these words she tells herself when she re-enters this cycle: it’s part of the process; she’ll write herself out of the maze. She knows at the heart of it is a combination of inspiration and running wild into the night, to howl at the moon and allow herself to be in her skin in all of her guises, to allow the different aspects of her personality and moods to have a stage, to have a place to say, here I am.

Sometimes she’s serious, sometimes silly, sad, messy…it’s endless. Sometimes she can dive in and stay down in the deep waters for long periods; and other times she can only poke her toes around at the surface of the waters peering in from a safe distance.

Pessoa came back into my awareness when I was reading through a book that I checked out from the library weeks ago. It’s also part of my process to read books on writing at various times. It’s like having a conversation with an old friend. This book is called, Writing – The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro and Aaron Shapiro. The book has sat, read in bits. I had come across a small passage where the authors quote Pessoa: “Each moment I have changed. Feeling myself always as a stranger…That’s why, like a stranger I read the pages of my being…I note at the margin of what I read what I thought I felt. Rereading I say: ‘Was it I?’ God knows, because he wrote it.” I can relate to feeling like a stranger at times. Moreover, what Pessoa says here pierces through my being and all that I see is a beautiful white light.

The authors go on to say that, “Pessoa recognized that the individual self was a fiction and that, in fact, one’s ultimate self could not be identified, and that it might only be experienced as a parade of pseudonyms, a succession of masks. And that behind the parade, beneath the masks, lay the ineffable, the unknowable. The no-thing or no-one or no-body he chose to call God” (pg. 6).

Whether it is our intention or not, it seems this something that writing allows us to get close to is always bigger than ourselves and it is ourselves; writing has a way of bringing us to some form of truth, even if we don’t always recognize it at first glance.