Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fernando Pessoa

Happiness is always post-factum...

I was happy then (now, I know it) Posted by Hello

The Honourable Reader might be forgiven for suspecting that this blogger of yours is a vain person. Recently, I indulged in ordering a personal card where besides my name and mobile phone I also provide details on my gmail address and on the URL of this blog. A colleague of mine, from the Dalmacian coast, was the recipient of one such card after confessing her admiration for Fernando Pessoa (thereby crossing the line between "professional" acquaintance and "personal" acquaintance.)
She e-mailed me this morning, re-stating her interest in the Great Poet and I could not resist, in my reply to her, to re-visit one the most glorious intuitions of Pessoa.
"Thanxs! My favourite philosophical/poetical "sound-bite" from Pessoa is "Fui feliz outrora agora", which is an abbreviation from two lines of a poem:

"Eu era feliz? Não sei:
Fui-o outrora agora".

Literal translation (to help you in the trip between Castellano and Portugues) is something like:

Was I happy? I don't know
I was happy then now

But for the full impact of his thought you have to work it out for yourself. Each one of us, readers, have slightly different interpretations. For me it means that happiness is never identified as such as it is happening and only later - post-happy factum - can a particular moment be experienced as happy (no longer in the Present but as a memory) . This disappointment when we become aware of that unavoidable time-lag is not a blackish negative emotion because it is normally tainted with those tender nostalgic tones we Portuguese call "saudade". (A bit like the "taska" of the Russian language). Happiness and Euphoria are not the same.

Viva Fernando Pessoa!


J. "
I just want to add something on that increasingly frequent confusion between euphoria and happiness. I have read the other day, from an expert on treatment for drug-addiction, that for the drug-user there is a "present-ification" of Time, there's no past and no future, only the now (the Present). The "flash", the "high" moment of using drugs, orgasm-like in what concerns the neurochemistry of it all, is instant powerful euphoria. So many youngsters take that as happiness. They think they will only recognize happiness when they'll feel those euphoria-related moods. They should know better. They should read Pessoa.
Dalmatia stroke again with her own translation efforts. Not bad, Girl, not bad at all! :
Was I happy? I don't know:
Now I know, then I was.
Was I happy? I don't know:
Now I know, I was, then.
Was I happy? I don't know:
Yes, I was, now I know.
Was I happy? I don't know:
I was, then, now I know.
Was I happy? I don't know:
Then, I was, now I know.

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