viro esquinas de ideias/turn corners of ideas

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inextricably

New Member
Vietnamese
I'm reading Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet, and I suppose I should have posted this in the English forum since I can only read the English translations, but please excuse me because I'd like to hear Portuguese speaker's opinions on this. What did Pessoa mean when he wrote viro esquinas de ideias/turn corners of ideas?

Original in Portuguese:
A leve embriaguez da febre ligeira, quando um desconforto mole e penetrante e frio pelos ossos doridos fora e quente nos olhos sob têmporas que batem — a esse desconforto quero como um escravo a um tirano amado. Dá-me aquela quebrada passividade trêmula em que entrevejo visões, viro esquinas de ideias e entre entrepolamentos de sentimentos me desconcerto.

Pensar, sentir, querer, tornam-se uma só confusa coisa. As crenças, as sensações, as coisas imaginadas e as atuais estão desarrumadas, são como o conteúdo misturado no chão, de várias gavetas subvertidas.
Richard Zenith's translation:
The slight inebriation of a mild fever, with its soft and penetrating discomfort that’s cold in our aching bones and warm in our eyes, under our throbbing temples – I adore that discomfort like a slave his beloved oppressor. It puts me in that state of feeble, quivering passivity in which I glimpse visions, turn corners of ideas and feel myself scatter among sudden and unexpected feelings.

Thinking, feeling and wanting become a single confused thing. Beliefs, sensations, imagined things and real things get all mixed up, like the contents of various drawers overturned on to the floor.

Margaret Jull Costa's translation:
The slight intoxication from a slight fever, when our bones are filled by both a mild discomfort and a penetrating cold and our eyes burn and our temples pound — I love that discomfort much as a slave loves a beloved tyrant. Give me that state of tremulous, broken passivity in which I glimpse visions, turn the corners of ideas and, among colliding feelings, feel myself being torn apart.

Thinking, feeling and wanting become a single confused thing. Beliefs, feelings, the real and the imagined are all mixed up, like the jumbled contents of various drawers emptied out onto the floor.

Really appreciate your help!
 
  • machadinho

    Senior Member
    Português do Brasil
    New ideas pop into Bernardo Soares's head, or the ideas he usually has take on new forms and new directions, when he's feverish.
     
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    Carfer

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    They both may be right. I guess that 'turn corners of ideas' means revolving in his mind (ponder, think over) around some obscure/secret/remote/ facets of ideas so I tend to agree with Zenith's translation, but I could also go along with machadinho and therefore accept Costa's version.

    P.S. Pessoa was educated in South Africa and had English as his primary language in his youth, so I think its influence and the possible English meanings of 'turn corners' should be taken into consideration.
     

    machadinho

    Senior Member
    Português do Brasil
    Carfer's point makes sense, and now I see it could mean something like "I keep changing my mind," "don't follow any particular idea," or "make no progress towards a particular conclusion or idea." Probably a better English rendering would be: I keep turning the corners of ideas, though no particular word in the original corresponds to 'keep'.
     

    machadinho

    Senior Member
    Português do Brasil
    Yes but, as Carfer suggestes, he seems to be using it in an English sense. When you're lost in a city you keep turning corners but you actually get nowhere.
     

    Carfer

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Just to make sure I understood what he says in Portuguese. Is he using the phrase "virar a esquina", "dobrar a esquina"?
    Isso. 'Virar', em Portugal, tem também o sentido de dobrar/tornear/mudar de direcção. É muito comum, mesmo mais do que 'dobrar', por exemplo. Associado a 'esquina', aparece, designadamente, na expressão 'ao virar da esquina', usada para indicar, por exemplo, que um determinado local fica próximo (em geral) ou (literalmente) que fica logo após dobrar a esquina mais próxima.
    Obviamente, o sentido que Pessoa quis dar à expressão está aberto a múltiplas interpretações. Interpretá-lo, para não falar já de traduzi-lo, especialmente o "Livro do desassossego", é uma imensa dor de cabeça. No caso, pode ter querido dizer que múltiplas e distintas ideias lhe vêm sucessivamente à cabeça, como também pode estar a falar de ideias rebuscadas que ele vira, possivelmente no sentido de revira, revolve. 'Esquina', além do sentido literal, poderá igualmente significar aqui recanto onde se aninhem as tais ideias ou ter mesmo uma conotação de dificuldade ou até de coisa que fere. Fica à sensibilidade de cada um.
     
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    Ari RT

    Senior Member
    Português - Brasil
    Carfer's point makes sense, and now I see it could mean something like "I keep changing my mind," "don't follow any particular idea," or "make no progress towards a particular conclusion or idea." Probably a better English rendering would be: I keep turning the corners of ideas, though no particular word in the original corresponds to 'keep'.
    I agree with your reading and with your translation, but I'd like to add a small, though important shade and maybe a twist to the verb "to keep".
    embriaguez -> desconforto imposto e aceito com prazer -> passividade -> XXXXXXX ("the thing" we are dealing with) -> desconcerto.
    confusão (synesthesia he means, but like this speaks who?) -> desarrumação -> mistura (synesthesia again) -> gavetas subvertidas.
    It pleases him to be lost, confused, as if he was in a lysergic trip. It pleases him to be led through uncertainty, every step a "turning point", no consistent heading in sight. He enjoys the feeling of freedom from any consistent heading. But it's not his will to wander around. The fever is a beloved tyrant, no escape from it, and that tyranny is welcome. When one can't head to anywhere, then one doesn't need to reach anywhere. No choice, no obligation. Just let it flow. This understanding is why I tend to favor Richard Zenith's translation.
    None of them (B. Soares or R. Zenith) used the verb "to keep" or "manter/permanecer" because the idea to be suggested was precisely the opposite. In my opinion, the truth lies somewhere in between machadinho's and R. Zenith's translation. What do you think about "... quivering passivity in which I glimpse visions, can't stop turning corners of ideas and feel myself scatter..."? Can't stop, avoid, help...
    Keep turning and can't stop turning are the same, in the end of the day. They just suggest different feelings.
    Either way, the readers play an important part on the interpretation of any text, even more so when F. Pessoa and heteronyms are the subjects. This reading above is a valid one for me, today, just after lunch and before a nap. Ask me again when covid19 has gone.

    P.S. I don't mean synesthesia as a figure of speech, like in "green envy", "harsh attitude" or "sweet dreams". I mean it as the confusion among senses, a short-circuit that makes your brain receive a visual stimulus and perceive it as a sound or a taste.
     
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