Having spread the news of official reports and officious surveys (see the following two items) and The Passion (see much of the previous week’s entries), The Revealer feels free to move on to one of its own small passions — writers who find entirely new ways to write about religion.Fernando Pessoa, a great Portuguese poet of the early 20th century, was one such, and this account of his life from Nth Position is well worth some study.

Pessoa was a mystic and a madman (the two are not synonymous), a magnificent loon who chose to write not only as Pessoa but under a number of “heteronyms” (a term he used to distinguish the distinct personalities which guided his pen from the “pseudonyms” of less imaginative authors). And yet he was nothing if not exact.

“What really troubled the author of The Book of Disquiet,” Gary Lachman tells us, “is that all these mystic masters were such atrocious stylists. ‘When they write to communicate… their mysteries,’ he said, ‘[they] all write abominably. It offends my intelligence that a man can master the Devil without being able to master the Portuguese language.’ Yet Satanists alone are not at fault. ‘To have touched the feet of Christ,’ [he] tells us, ‘is no excuse for mistakes in punctuation.’”