revolutionaries and reformers

Aphorism 160.

“The entire day, in all the desolation of its scattered and dull clouds, was filled with the news of revolution. Such reports, true or false, always fill me with a peculiar discomfort, a mixture of disdain and physical nausea. It galls my intelligence when someone imagines that things will change by shaking them up. Violence of whatever sort has always been, for me, a flagrant form of human stupidity. All revolutionaries, for that matter, are stupid, as are all reformers to a lesser extent – lesser because they’re less troublesome.”

“Revolutionary or reformer – the error is the same. Unable to dominate and reform his own attitude towards life, which is everything, or his own being, which is almost everything, he flees, devoting himself to modifying others and the outside world. Every revolutionary and reformer is a fugitive. To fight for change is to be incapable of changing oneself. To reform is to be beyond repair.*”

“A sensitive and honest-minded man, if he’s concerned about evil and injustice in the world, will naturally begin his campaign against them by eliminating them at their nearest source: his own person. This task will take his entire life.

“Everything, for us, is in our concept of the world. To modify our concept of the world is to modify the world for us, or simply to modify the world, since it will never be, for us, anything but what it is for us. That inner justice we summon to write a fluent and beautiful page, that true reformation of enlivening our dead sensibility – these things are the truth, our truth, the only truth. Everything else in the world is scenery, picture frames for our feelings, book bindings for our thoughts. And this is true whether it be the colourful scenery of beings and things – fields, houses, posters, clothes – or the colourless scenery of monotonous souls that periodically rise to the surface with hackneyed words and gestures, then sink back down into the fundamental stupidity of human expression.”

“Revolution? Change? What I really want, with all my heart, is for the atonic clouds to stop greyly lathering the sky. What I want is to see the blue emerge, a truth that is clear and sure because it is nothing and wants nothing.”

Excerpt From: Pessoa, Fernando. “The Book of Disquiet.” Penguin Books, 2010-10-25. iBooks.
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