The novelist is all of us, and we narrate when we see, because seeing is as complex as everything else


Literature — art wed to thought, attained without the stain of reality — seems to me to be the goal toward which every human effort ought to strive, if that effort were really human and not an animal superfluity. I think that to say a thing is to retain its virtue and throw out its terror. Fields are greener in the saying than they are in their own verdure. Flowers, if they are described with phrases that could define them in the air of imagination, will have colors of a permanence that cellular life does not permit.

To move is to live, to speak is to survive. There is nothing real in life that is not real because someone described it well. Critics from small houses usually point out that such and such a poem, finely rhymed, doesn’t, in the last analysis, mean anything more than it’s a nice day. But to say that it’s a nice day is difficult, and the nice day itself passes. So we have to save the nice day in a florid, prolix memory and thus constellate the fields or the heavens of empty and ephemeral exteriority with new flowers or new stars.

Everything is what we are, and everything will be for those who follow us in the diversity of time in accordance with how intensely we imagined it, that is, how intensely we had put it in our bodies with our imagination and really been it. I don’t believe that history is anything more, in its grand, faded panorama, than a flow of interpretations, a confused consensus of distracted testimonies. The novelist is all of us, and we narrate when we see, because seeing is as complex as everything else.

I have at this moment so many fundamental thoughts, so many truly metaphysical things to say, that I suddenly get tired and decide not to write any more, not to think any more, but to allow the fever of speaking to make me sleepy, and with my eyes closed, like a cat, I play with everything I could have said.

— Bernardo Soares (Fernando Pessoa), The Book of Disquiet

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