On [:] Isolation | Fernando Pessoa, 1888-1935

Henrik Samuelsson (Swedish, b. 1960), Ashes, 2016

“Freedom is the possibility of isolation. You are free if you can withdraw from people, not having to seek them out for the sake of money, company, love, glory or curiosity, none of which can thrive in silence and solitude. If you can’t live alone, you were born a slave. You may have all the splendours of the mind and the soul, in which case you’re a noble slave, or an intelligent servant, but you’re not free. And you can’t hold this up as your own tragedy, for your birth is a tragedy of Fate alone. Hapless you are, however, if life itself so oppresses you that you’re forced to become a slave. Hapless you are if, having been born free, with the capacity to be isolated and self-sufficient, poverty should force you to live with others.”

 Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

 (it was first published in Portuguese in 1982, 47 years after Pessoa’s death)

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