Posts Tagged ‘Jorge Luis Borges’
Tall in the evening, arrogant, aloof,
she crosses the chaste garden and is caught
in the shutter of that pure and fleeting instant
which gives to us this garden and this vision,
unspeaking, deep. I see her here and now,
but simultaneously I also see her
haunting an ancient, twilit Ur of the Chaldees
or coming slowly down the shallow steps,
a temple, which was once proud stone but now
has turned to an infinity of dust,
or winkling out the magic alphabet
locked in the stars of other latitudes,
or breathing in a rose’s scent, in England.
She is where music is, and in the gentle
blue of the sky, in Greek hexameters,
and in our solitudes, which seek her out.
She is mirrored in the water of the fountain,
in time’s memorial marble, in a sword,
in the serene air of a patio,
looking out on sunsets and on gardens.
And underneath the myths and the masks,
her soul, always alone.
Alastair Reid, translator.
Related: scroll down for a picture of Susana on her wedding day.
As someone has who read some Borges, i actually already got the reference that the Stereogum writer was trying to make to Pierre Menard. It just happens to be shorthand for being dismissive of any kind of post modern deconstruction. That story gets invoked whenever someone wants to chop someone off at the knees when they getting a little too deconstructive for the critic’s taste.1 It’s not much better than a jock yelling, “Way to go, Einstein!” sarcastically at anyone evidencing higher thought.
The Pierre Menard comparison doesn’t hold water anyway, in that the story describes an author recreating a piece word by word, exactly, and only changing the meaning by the fact in the period in which it was recreated.2 One extremely fucking salient point about Price’s cover of “Creep” is that he changed the song significantly. This is not the Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard recreation of the Cramps’ 1978 performance at Napa Mental Institute.
I don’t really have a stake in this minor conflict. I’ve been a fan of Eppy’s3 writing for years. Although i hate the vibe of Stereogum, that writer doesn’t seem so bad in comparison. However, he’s guilty of placing a huge target on Eppy for having the nerve to say anything deeper than “Rock on! Free the music!” and changing the context of Eppy’s writing to something other than Eppy intended after Thom Yorke made his comment.
So, almost ironically, the Stereogum writer changed the meaning of the piece by removing it from the period in which it was written, and placed in a different time completely changed the meaning…. just like Pierre Menard, with Eppy as Cervantes. Eppy is no longer the author of his own work, or better yet, the Eppy, a simulacrum of Stereogum™, who is the author of the latter piece, has ceased being the Eppy of the prior piece. The first Eppy no longer has a credible perspective on the reaction to these words, as they no longer belong to him.
Yep… i’m just winging it at this point.
p.s. The point is moot.
- Although i cannot cite specific examples at this time. [↩]
- If you have a problem with that, go fight it out with Tom McCarthy and his buddies. They’re bound to have some choice words for you. [↩]
- I’m aware of his real name. It’s just not common for anyone to make a reference to particular run of the comic Grendel, and that’s how i choose to keep his identity straight in my addled head [↩]
It’s cheesy joke, but this police report turned up in my news alerts:
Jorge L. Borges, 36, Cumberland, R.I., charged with driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Maybe his real problem was that he was not looking at the road and was focused on the Zahir.
(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.
Marcello Balvé wrote a great essay on Macedonio Fernández in the new issue of the Quarterly Conversation. Nothing is in print in English translation by Macedonio Fernández at this time either, but read Balvé’s footnotes, and he points out that Open Letter is planning to release Fernández’s Museo de la Novela de La Eterna in the fall 2009… not the one that i hoped to start with, but Open Letter is doing what no one else is doing, putting him back in print in English translation. Hell yeah.
Schopenhauer plays a big role in all of this, but i’ve never read him, and doubt if i have the inclination to pull it off. For now, all i feel up to is browsing through a collection of his quotes.
The first thing that popped into my mind when i read of this collection of essays is the image of Borges with whirring, clockwork eyes, steel and brass orbs of gears and lenses. The pun originally made me wince, but the more that i say it softly to myself, the more i like the sound of it, even if his prophecies about information do not really speak of crude robotics.
Both this collection Cy-Borges and Borges 2.0: From Text to Virtual Worlds will wind up somewhere on my reading list this year.