The Hour of the Devil by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Jeff Gburek (pdf) with Movement 4 of the "Apophis Cycle"

by Jeff Gburek Projects



"The decisions of the Greeks predestined the logos of the West to become an emotional impoverishment of all world relations, and this disaster has overshadowed scientific and philosophical thought to the present day. Meanwhile, forms of a richer (if less "operative") world of knowledge survive in narrative literature, poetry, the arts, everyday speech, proverbs, myths, and generally held concepts of "religions". One of the ironies of our intellectual civilization is that for some time now -- at least since the death of Hegel -- it has had to devote a large part of it's energy to correcting the processes of bias, artificialization, abbreviation, distortion, extravagance and delusion that it generated itself as a result of its initial blunders. In the same way we speak of iatrogenous illnesses, we can talk about scientogenous or even philosophogenous misjudgements..."

Peter Sloterdijk, The Art of Philosophy

Fernando Pessoa's text, A Hora do Diabo, starts with the English language epigraph: No light but rather darkness visible. It appears to have been written when he was between 14 and 16 years old, and according to Teresa Rita Lopes, seems to have resulted from a violent confrontation with the Catholic religion and culture which he had until then practiced. The citation from Sloterdijk, from 2010, shows us perhaps that the history of artificialization, abbreviation and distortion did not begin 100 years ago, nor in Portugal. Nor in Rome, for that matter. Indeed, the infernal regression to fundamentalism still flares up and the phantasm of the Devil haunts the speech of the off-balance well into the age of science. Pessoa's text, therefore: a kind of balancing act quite remarkable for a teenager, if not for those who "ought to know better". Barring myself from any attempt to rank Pessoa's text inside of any literary genre and thereby pass flawed judgements onward, it is perhaps useful to note that the tale can be seen in the continuum of European folklore that shares it's origin with Historia von D. Johann Fausten published by Johann Spiess in 1587. As I have written in the note following my translation in the pdf file you will find here in the bonus items, the fragmentary and dream-like quality of Pessoa's writing stems perhaps as much from its incompleteness as it does from the fugitive character of the archetypal figures in this folkloric tradition wherein ghosts, spirits, angels, dark corners and dreams appear as vehicles or rabbit-holes by which the reader and the translator become conspirators, collaborators and poets in congress with their own imagination. This attempt to give the reins of the dream back to the dreamer permits Pessoa to be seen not only as the isolate man of letters, which he certainly seemed to have been, but also more like Giordano Bruno, a liberator of consciousness, a writer with an aim beyond the scope of books formalized as consumable produce.

The cover image is a photograph of a blob of luciferase, an enzyme used in bioluminescence. The term derived famously from Lucifer, as in the bearer of light (lucem ferre). Luciferase is used by fire-flies, sea-pansies and photobacterium and the luciferin enyzmes seem to be of key importance for understanding the evolution of life on the planet
and have been described as either extremely friendly or "promiscuous," meaning that they have a tendency to quickly combine with other compounds in creating new molecular folds. I am not a biologist and my description may be somewhat tendentious but I hope this will be interpreted as an enthusiasm for the light-bearing activity of research into bioluminescence with no intent to offend anyone in the scientific community. The image can be found in it's original context at this link:

The musical selection I have included with this release has not been chosen because it has any obvious connection to the content of Pessoa's story but rather for it's atmosphere of spaciousness and the mood of contemplation that could be conducive to reading. The entire Apophis Cycle will be published in 2014.

Jeff Gburek
10.31.13 -- 11.1.13
Poznań, Poland


released November 1, 2013

Written by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Jeff Gburek. Music by Jeff Gburek from "Apophis Cycle".



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Jeff Gburek Projects Poland

guitarist, composer, improvisor, sound artist, prepared guitar, unprepared guitars, stones, found objects, phonography, electronics, digital manipulation.studied Javanese and Balinese gamelan music, developed as a percussionist studied the theories of Partch and Xenakis while working in the dance/theater/butoh project Djalma Primordial Science.STEIM residency and Darmstadt summer. ... more

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