[...] The opposite of Faust, this troubled Portuguese soul traded in real life for the spiritual world of his writing. Perhaps most writers do this to some extent, but who has annulled himself like Pessoa? Not Joyce. Not Pound. Not even Franz Kafka. We can see Joyce as the brilliant conductor of his daringly dissonant narratives. We can see Pound hyper-actively promoting literary, political, and personal causes. We can see Kafka suffering—as it were in his own flesh—the agony of his negative metamorphoses. With Pessoa all we can visualize is what a handful of surviving photos show: a materialized nondescriptness endowed with a mustache. Pessoa was no language master à la Joyce or Pound. He wrote careful, elegant Portuguese, inventing new locutions and recasting worn-out clichés, but his project was not to deform and reform words and syntax. His project was the universe, with himself as the raw material. He was the object clay, endlessly molded, twisted, divided, and reworked by his writing. And in this autometamorphosis there was no torment or suffering à la Kafka. As if following the recommendation of a Reis poem to “Leave pain on the altar/ As an offering to the gods,” Pessoa stoically endured nonsuffering.
love this writing