Reality is not always probable, or likely.
24th August is the birthday Jorge Luis Borges, the blind librarian and the man who made Latin America famous for something other than drugs and soccer and murder and mafia. His speciality was his erudition, he could quote 17th century authors and Norse Poetry and Upanishads and Euripides and Aristophanes and Samuel Beckett and Edgar Allen Poe, he could write fiction and poetry and essays, a man who could do it all. In a way of homage to him and his quote, “I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books”, I keep a copy of his Ficciones or Aleph or Collected Fictions besides my bed at all times, they are now even familiar to my 3 year old. He’s an author who never uses adjectives or unnecessary metaphors, the brevity of his work is only matched by the clarity of his thought. Understated. Subtle. Direct. Paradoxical. He’s one of those who you feel like oh I could have come up with that line or oh I had heard that but I didn’t know it was borges who said it. On second thought, he isn’t one of those. He’s one of nothing. He’s the only one of his kind. I’ve done it earlier too on this blog but you can never have too much of him, so I shall let his words speak for him.
Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment – the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.
He’s often quoted on time and labyrinths and mazes and paradoxes and most often on memory but not often on love, because he has precious little to say on it. But he does keep it simple, getting to the core of it at times.
There are those who seek the love of a woman to forget her, to not think about her.
A friend once quoted me a line about touching gilded statues and the gilding sticking to your fingers. Borges take on it is similar:
To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.
But does that mean you shouldn’t fall in love or do what you love since there’s not going to be a reward? What’s the point I hear people saying about a lot of things. It isn’t going to go anywhere, what’s the point. Nothing will come of it, why bother?
Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.
Must we do what we do? Must we be what we are? It is often forgotten that his initial fame was as a poet instead of a writer, in a time when you wrote poetry which could be discerned without being a professor of poetry, a simpler more direct way of communication which I still prefer to this date, instead of the post modern stuff that passes of as really good poetry these days. Borges had a poem written on why-we-do-something-we-have-no-hope-of-mastering, and like all works or his, it’s simple.
The circularity of time is a recurrent theme in his work. Anything infinite has to be circular and anything circular is by definition infinite.
Our time isn’t limited because in some form or other it will recur.
Beyond this verse, waits, inexhaustible, the universe.