Bill Eville's text based on Fernando Pessoa & Co. – Selected Poems, Edited and translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith (Grove Press/New York)
When he wrote he became a completely different person to the point of
actually dressing differently when he sat down to write. One morning I
awoke and instead of just sitting down in the same old pajamas I always
wear, I changed into a suit – something I no longer wear. It was
a gray one and I also wore a white shirt and bland tie. I found a
hat too, in the closet and put that on and when I sat in front of the computer
I discovered somebody else within me who wanted to talk, someone perhaps
that I could give a story to.
The exercise from Pessoa & Co.was not to pick a particular
poem but to look at the manner in which Pessoa created personas.
Pessoa called them heteronyms. In the end Pessoa created so many
unique personalities that it is difficult to say exactly who the man himself
was. Although he did write under his own name, he freely admitted
that the man he called Pessoa was not the best poet in the house.
To whom this honor should be bestowed was debatable, mostly because each
of Pessoa’s personas had a different opinion of who the true master was.
This is one of the most unique aspects of his poetry. Not only does
each persona approach the craft in a completely different way, but they
also live different lives. One is a humble shepherd, another a neoclassical
poet whom he called “the sad epicurean,” another yet was a “naval engineer
and Sensationist poet.” At the same time they are all parts of the
When he wrote he became a completely different person to the point of actually dressing differently when he sat down to write. One morning I awoke and instead of just sitting down in the same old pajamas I always wear, I changed into a suit – something I no longer wear. It was a gray one and I also wore a white shirt and bland tie. I found a hat too, in the closet and put that on and when I sat in front of the computer I discovered somebody else within me who wanted to talk, someone perhaps that I could give a story to.
I wear blue jeans. A lot. Khakis too, on occasion, and at work a gray suit with a white or blue shirt depending on which is clean. My shoes are black, my boots brown and my jackets the same. My ties do not yell, push, pull or bite, nor do they recede into the background to such a degree as to cause a second glance. They simply hang from my neck as quietly as another hair from my head.
I am neither fat nor skinny, characteristics I can control and do so with a quiet ferocity alone in my house with the shades drawn. I wear a gray sweatsuit when doing this. I do not own any exercise equipment but make do with tables and chairs, propping my feet up on the kitchen counter say, and pushing up from the floor with my arms. This may not sound like much, but there is sufficient pain to suggest that something is happening. I visited a gym once, but there were mirrors everywhere and people looking in them not at themselves, but at each other with surreptitious glances. There was grunting, heavy breathing, and even some outright yelling. There were individuals everywhere, and although I silently applauded them, I knew I could not join in because being an individual frightens me.
So I work hard to blend in. I do not wear bold colored clothes, nor carefully shined shoes, or even part my hair too aggressively for fear that someone's eye will be drawn to my craftsmanship. This is not to say I let myself go, as they say, and walk about in a slovenly state. No, that too would be counterproductive, marking me distinctly as someone to look at, to point to and discuss immediately in hushed tones or loudly later at the water cooler. Instead, I am very careful about not looking too cared for and if you ask me why I will blame my mother. Why? Because it is such a cliche it does not stand out.
I am 32 years old. I do not like pets and keep my own hair very short too. But it is exceptionally thick, I have seen hedgerows admiring it, and I have to visit the barber frequently. But I do not like visiting the barber. Barbers talk too much and are always looking at you. But I have no choice and right now I am on my way to the barber. His name is Don Fifi, a short Italian man who stops every eighth snip to take a sip of espresso and declare, ‘So much hair."
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