"It was just a brief moment, and already it’s over. Once more I see the furniture all around me, the pattern on the old wallpaper, and the sun through the dusty panes. I saw the truth for a moment. For a moment I was consciously what great men are their entire lives. I recall their words and deeds and wonder if they were also successfully tempted by the Demon of Reality. To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think. To know yourself in a flash, as I did in this moment, is to have a fleeting notion of the intimate monad, the soul’s magic word. But that sudden light scorches everything, consumes everything. It strips us naked of even ourselves."
— Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese novelist, in The Book of Disquiet. Here's the Google Book page.
The quote is via Scott Sumner who identifies as a personal identity skeptic. Paul Graham wrote an essential essay called Keeping Your Identity Small. Here are my other posts on identity.
2 comments on “Quote of the Day”
Funny, I read his book The Education of the Stoic just this week. Still trying to make sense of it in my head.
Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself —
And there isn’t one.
— Ask The Awakened
(Wei Wu Wei)