FERNANDO PESSOA: A Lively Death.

There’s a sleepiness of our conscious attention that I can’t explain but that often attacks me, if something so hazy can be said to attack. I’ll be walking down a street as if I were sitting down, and my attention, although alert to everything, will have the inertia of a body completely at rest. I would be incapable of deliberately stepping aside for an approaching passer-by. I would be incapable of responding with words, or even with thoughts inside my mind, to a question asked me by a random stranger who happened to cross paths with my random presence. I would be incapable of having a desire, a hope, or anything at all representing a movement of my general will or even – if I may so speak – of the partial will belonging to each of my component parts. I would be incapable of thinking, of feeling, of wanting. And I walk, I roam, I keep going. Nothing in my movements (I notice by what others don’t notice) transmits my state of stagnation to the observable plane. And this spiritless state, which would be natural and therefore comfortable in someone lying down or reclining, is singularly uncomfortable, even painful, in a man walking down the street.

 

It’s like being intoxicated with inertia, drunk but with no enjoyment in the drinking or in the drunkenness. It’s a sickness with no hope of recovery. It’s a lively death.

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