TO A SENSITIVE SOUL: I, a cynic, sensitive soul? By Diana’s thigh! That insult ought to be washed away with blood, if blood ever washed away anything in this world. No, sensitive soul, I am no cynic, I was a man; my brain was a theater in which plays of all genres were staged, sacred plays, austere dramas, sentimental works, gay comedies, topsy-turvy farces, morality plays, burlesque — pure pandemonium, sensitive soul, a tumult of things people in which you might see everything, from the rose of Smyrna to the rue growing in your own backyard, from Cleopatra’s magnificent couch to the corner of the beach where a beggar shivers away the night. It was host to thoughts of the most various castes and complexions. Nor was it the sole province of the eagle and the hummingbird; the slug’s and the toad’s habitats were represented there as well. Take back those words, then, sensitive soul, give your nerves a shake, clean off your eyeglasses — sometimes it’s all in the eyeglasses — and let us do away with this thicket flower once and for all. — Machado de Assis, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas