Most people are afflicted with an inability to say what they see or think. They say there’s nothing more difficult than to define a spiral in words; they claim it is necessary to use the unliterary hand, twirling it in a steadily upward direction, so that human eyes will perceive the abstract figure immanent in wire spring and a certain type of staircase. But if we remember that to say is to renew, we will have no trouble defining a spiral; it’s a circle that rises without ever closing. I realize that most people would never dare to define it this way, for they suppose that defining is to say what others want us to say rather than what’s required for the definition. I’ll say it more accurately: a spiral is a potential circle that winds round as it rises, without ever completing itself. But no, the definition is still abstract. I’ll resort to the concrete and all will become clear: a spiral is a snake without a snake, vertically wound around nothing. All literature is an attempt to make life real. All of us know, even when we act on what we don’t know, life is absolutely unreal in its directly real form; the country, the city and our ideas are absolutely fictitious things, the offspring of our complex sensation of our own selves. Impressions are incommunicable unless we make them literary. Children are particularly literary, for they say what they feel not what someone has taught them to feel. Once I heard a child, who wished to say that he was on the verge of tears, say not ‘I feel like crying’, which is what an adult, i.e., an idiot, would say but rather, ’ I feel like tears.’ And this phrase -so literary it would seem affected in a well-known poet, if he could ever invent it - decisively refers to the warm presence of tears about to burst from eyelids that feel the liquid bitterness. ‘I feel like tears’! The small child aptly defined his spiral. To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming- like worms when a rock is lifted - under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.
Fernando Pessoa