Friday, June 02, 2006

Bernardo Soares

Bernardo Soares, author of The Book of Disquiet, both lived and worked on the fourth floor of buildings on Lisbon's Rua dos Douradores:

"And if the office on Rua dos Douradores represents life for me, the fourth-floor room where I live, on this same Rua dos Douradores, represents Art for me. Yes, Art, residing on the very same street as Life, but in a different place. Art, which gives me relief from life without relieving me of living, being as monotonous as life itself, only in a different place. Yes, for me the Rua dos Douradores contains, the meaning of everything and the answer to all riddles, except for the riddle of why riddles exist, which can never be answered."

Soares' connection to his city is paradoxical. While he reveals an estrangement from all things around him, he still cannot exist without them. In his concluding statement, number 481, he says:

Nostalgia! I even feel it for the people and things that were nothing to me, because time's fleeing is for me an anguish, and life's mystery is a torture. Faces I habitually see on my habitual streets – if I stop seeing them I become sad. And they were nothing to me, except perhaps the symbol of all life.

Concluding sentence of The Book of Disquiet:

And everything I've done, everything I've felt and everything I've lived will amount merely to one less pass-by on the everyday streets of some city or other.”

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