Original Sin

Fernando Pessoa, image taken from Wikipedia

Original Sin (as written by Alvaro de Campos, a heteronym of Fernando Pessoa)

Who will write the story of what could have been?
That, if someone writes it,
Will be the true history of humanity.

What exists is the real world—not us, just the world.
We are, in reality, what doesn’t exist.

I am who I failed to be.
We are all who we supposed ourselves. Our reality is what we never attained.

What happened to that truth we had—the dream at the
           window of childhood?
What happened to our certainty—the plans at the desk that
          followed?

Sitting sideways in a chair after dinner, with my head
Resting against my folded hands, which are resting
Against the high sill of the balcony window, I ponder.

What happened to my reality, that all I have is life?
What happened to me, that I’m just who exists?

How many Caesars I’ve been!

In my soul, and with some truth;
In my imagination, and with some justice;
In my intellect, and with some warrant—
My God! My God! My God!—
How many Caesars I’ve been!
How many Caesars I’ve been!
How many Caesars I’ve been!

I don’t know if it is the Caesar part on that poem, but on a free association it brings to my mind that famous phrase by Pompey, (granted he was not a Caesar but a military commander), as told by Plutarch:

navigare necesse est vivere non est necesse, or “To sail is necessary; to live is not” (not that I can read latin fluently, but this phrase is pretty clear)
This seems to echo Pessoa:

Those who read stop living. Do it now for the sake of doing it. Stop living and read. What is life? (Quem lê deixa de viver. Fazei agora por que o façais. Deixai de viver, e lede. O que é a vida?)
(The Portuguese is my own translation, so it may not be the best translation possible as I can barely read Portuguese)

A disclaimer: That poem was taken from the book “A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe”, translated by Richard Zenith. I changed the first line from “Who will write the story of what he could have been?” to “Who will write the story of what could have been?”, since the original reads “Ah, quem escreverá a história do que poderia ter sido?”. I don’t think therefore that the “he” should go there. That is just me being super picky, and in no way I mean to be critical of the translations by Zenith, which are superb.

On a random note (not that all the rest was not random as well…), I will leave this here with two songs. I saw the guys from the first video (Tonolec) live, and it was awesome. She is totally amazing and totally nuts at the same time. The second song is by Raz Ohara & The Odd Orchestra.

 

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