(This was to be part of the Macedonio Fernández post, but it didn’t fit right.)
Yesterday, i was stumbling around, trying to find some cheap, used Stanislas Lem books to acquire, and a commenter on Amazon excerpted from Microworlds either a big chunk or the whole essay by Lem on Borges, “Unitas Oppositorum.” The last paragraph is:
If Schopenhauer had never existed, and if Borges presented to us the ontological doctrine of “The World As Will,” we would never accept it as a philosophical system that must be taken seriously; we would take it as an example of a “fantastic philosophy.” As soon as nobody assents to it, a philosophy becomes automatically fantastic literature.
These couple of sentences have me contemplating Schreber’s Memoir of My Nervous Illness. It too is fantastic literature, but i keep being reminded that Schreber’s experiences were quite real to him. (This is harder to distance myself from than when reading Philip K. Dick, and remembering before he went schizophrenic, he wrote a book like In Milton Lumky Territory, something i don’t ever plan to read.) If i had been handed that book, and told it was a work of fiction, i’d be a lot more amazed.
So while i’m incredibly excited by Balvé’s essay, ready to unlock the key to who is Borges, do i really want to do this? I’m less worried about thinking Borges less brilliant than he is, but once i start connecting fleshing out the evolution of though between Borges and Schopenhauer, through the writings of Fernández, will i understand too much of what Borges meant in him saying, “I don’t write well, I plagiarize well.”
Don’t worry. I’m reading Fernández as soon as possible. Ignorance is not something i want to cling to, just because it makes my sense of awe greater. It’s just another temptation.