We Should Wash Our Destiny the Way We Wash Our Body…

Only as a lack of personal hygiene can I understand my wallowing in this flat, invariable life I lead, this dust or filth stuck on the surface of never changing. We should wash our destiny the way we wash our body, and change life the way we change clothes – not to preserve life, as when we eat and sleep, but out of objective respect for ourselves, which is what personal hygiene is all about. There are many people whose lack of hygiene is not a chosen condition but a shrugging of the intellect’s shoulders. And there are many whose dullness and sameness of life is not what they wanted for their life, nor the result of not having wanted any life, but just a dulling of their own self-awareness, a spontaneous irony of the intellect.

There are pigs repelled by their own filth that don’t draw away from it because the feeling of repulsion is so strong it paralyses, as when a frightened man freezes instead of fleeing the danger. There are pigs like me that wallow in their destiny, not drawing away from the banality of daily life because they’re enthralled by their own impotence. They’re like birds captivated by the thought of the snake, like flies that hover around branches without seeing a thing, until they’re within the sticky reach of the chameleon’s tongue. In a similar sort of way, I promenade my conscious unconsciousness along my tree branch of the usual. I promenade my destiny that goes forward, though I don’t go anywhere, and my time that advances, though I stay put. And the only thing that alleviates my monotony are these brief commentaries I make with respect to it. I’m grateful that my cell has windows inside the bars, and on the dust of the necessary that covers the panes I write my name in capital letters, my daily signature on my covenant with death.

With death? No, not even with death. Whoever lives like me doesn’t die: he terminates, wilts, devegetates. The place where he was remains without him being there; the street where he walked remains without him being seen on it; the house where he lived is inhabited by not-him. That’s all, and we call it nothing; but not even this tragedy of negation can be staged to applause, for we don’t even know for sure if it’s nothing, we, these vegetable manifestations of both truth and life, dust on both the outside and the inside of the panes, grandchildren of Destiny and stepchildren of God, who married Eternal Night when she was widowed by the Chaos that fathered us.

FERNANDO PESSOA (THE BOOK OF DISQUIET)

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