I’ve always felt an almost physical loathing for secret things — intrigues, diplomacy, secret societies, occult sciences. What especially irks me are these last two things — the pretension certain men have that, through their understandings with Gods or Masters or Demiurges, they and they alone know the great secrets on which the world is founded.
I can’t believe their claims, though I can believe that someone else might. But is there any reason why all these people might not be crazy or deluded? The fact there are a lot of them proves nothing, for there are collective hallucinations.
What really shocks me is how these wizards and masters of the invisible, when they write to communicate or intimate their mysteries, all write abominably. It offends my intelligence that a man can master the Devil without being able to master the Portuguese language. Why should dealing with demons be easier than dealing with grammar? If through long exercises of concentration and will power one can have so-called astral visions, why can’t the same person — applying considerably less concentration and willpower — have a vision of syntax? What is there in the teachings and rituals of the Magic Arts that prevents their adherents from writing — I won’t say with clarity, since obscurity may be part of the occult law — but at least with elegance and fluency, which can exist in the sphere of the abstruse? Why should all the soul’s energy be spent studying the language of the Gods, without a pittance left over to study the colour and rhythm of the language of men?
I don’t trust masters who can’t be down-to-earth. For me they’re like those eccentric poets who can’t write like everybody else. I accept that they’re eccentric, but I’d like them to show me that it’s because they’re superior to the norm rather than incapable of it.
There are supposedly great mathematicians who make errors in simple addition, but what I’m talking about here is ignorance, not error. I accept that a great matematician can add two and two and get five: it can happen to anyone in a moment of distraction. What I don’t accept is that he not know what addition is or how it’s done. And this is the case of the overwhelming majority of occult masters.
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (section 256). I remember typing (parts of) this section before, posting it on waldorf critics. Don’t think I ever posted these passages on this blog though. In section 258 he goes on to say that to ‘have touched the feet of Christ is no excuse for mistakes in punctuation.’