tearing off, one by one, the petals of the idea


Fragments of an Autobiography

At first, metaphysical speculations amused me, then scientific notions. finally, sociological (…) attracted me. But in none of these stages of my quest for truth did I find assurance or relief. I read little about any of my concerns. But in the little I did read, I was worn out by seeing so many contradictory theories, all based on well-developed ideas, all of them equally probable and in accord with a certain school of facts that always had the air of being all the facts. If I raised my tired eyes from the books or if my perturbed attention wandered from my thoughts toward the exterior world, I saw only one thing, which contradicted any utility there might have been in reading and thinking, tearing off, one by one, the petals of the idea and the effort: the infinite complexity of things, the immense quantity (…), the prolix intangibility of the very few facts one could imagine as necessary for the foundation of a science.

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

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