Fernando Pessoa makes the word “ineffable” completely useless. He can describe everything that the best of the best couldn’t lay a word down for. I’ve had thoughts before that were restricted to thoughts simply because of the intangible qualities that constituted it. But when I open Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, there’ll usually be a paragraph that lays that private thought out just about as clear as any reflection you’ve ever seen in a freshly cut mirror. It’s kind of shocking how perfectly insane his craftsmanship of human words are. And that’s always the trouble with translated work – you’re left with the unsettling thought that there is an even more perfect expression of what you just read, and the only way you can get to it, is of course, to learn an alien language.
January 17, 2004