Reflexiones sinceras / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Sincere Reflections

     Despite the infinite diversity of temperaments, the greater part of us can complain like José Asunción Silva on the eve of his death regarding intellectual effort that is febrile and without method. Never has the wise precept of studying a few things deeply been violated with greater frequency than in our days. Foolish activity overwhelms us, unhealthy activity, perhaps the result of the agitated contemporary life where even for our Spanish or indigenous slowness time has become gold.
     This culture almost always acquired quickly, as one of its best results, erudite men anguished by knowledge and scant creative power, the personality disappears under so many strange ideas, we think with the opinion of authors we’ve read, we are dominated by the urge to cite as with Jean de La Bruyère. We acquire a bad idea of own ourselves that forces us to repose. Then what happens to reading is what afflicts the individual who without realizing submits his intelligence and his will to the opinions and feelings of the social center to which he adheres.
     No era weighs more on the life of men of letters (giving this denomination its most ample sense) than that of effort without repose, followed by long and sterile exhaustion, in which our thinking does not condense but wanders like a cloud without ever specifying its forms. Life is then vulgar, it appears in complete monotony, since generally those states of mind don’t coexist with a powerful feeling capable of dominating us and providing ideas their unity. At which point more than one of us will lament the good era of his childhood or the better one of our grandparents who truly enjoyed the ancient leisure whose signification was peace and absorption, reading the interminable Spanish novels that made them dissipate in a dream tranquil as their existences the tropical drowsiness. Often tormented (?) by the anxiety of knowing soon how much presents itself within our reach, we form the project realized by very few of studying selectively, but this is a purpose that doesn’t resist curiosity or the fear of being left behind; somewhat like a fatal whirlwind overtakes our floating spirits in the manner of that infernal hurricane the poet saw maintain without repose the souls that love had made guilty. Remote and more desired the more distant the hope of reading one single book remains for us, comfort that for being so effective Eça de Queiroz doesn’t forget it among those things that made existence a pleasure for the main character in one of his works, sickened by the refinements of civilization and freedom of death by the regenerative wind of the native mountains.

February 1912

Originally published in the magazine Comando Atenas in Caracas, 15 May 1912.

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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