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8 posts tagged Borges

Many years ago, when I first started college, I’d come into the still-unknown city on the weekend sometimes to visit a childhood friend. One visit I remember, it was raining and I was wandering around, probably lost, and ducked into the NYU bookstore. I found Borges and pulled Labyrinths off, vaguely aware that it was a book I should read and would love. I opened to this page, read until my friend called me, put the book back on the shelf. Somehow I vividly remember this—the corner I stood in, the umbrella between my feet, the shiny mirrored cover, that feeling of sitting in a quiet mahogany office and not that cluttered small store off Washington Square. I didn’t pick Labyrinths back up for another couple years, when I finally devoted an entire weekend to it, sitting in Central Park, middle of summer, overhot and coming off a month of not reading anything. This book grabbed me, demanded an instant reread, managed to burrow itself back into my reading history so it became as if I’d first read it when I was ten, again when I was eleven, every year until that summer, so that the real first time was actually like the tenth or eleventh read. Like Borges was inherent.

Many years ago, when I first started college, I’d come into the still-unknown city on the weekend sometimes to visit a childhood friend. One visit I remember, it was raining and I was wandering around, probably lost, and ducked into the NYU bookstore. I found Borges and pulled Labyrinths off, vaguely aware that it was a book I should read and would love. I opened to this page, read until my friend called me, put the book back on the shelf. Somehow I vividly remember this—the corner I stood in, the umbrella between my feet, the shiny mirrored cover, that feeling of sitting in a quiet mahogany office and not that cluttered small store off Washington Square. I didn’t pick Labyrinths back up for another couple years, when I finally devoted an entire weekend to it, sitting in Central Park, middle of summer, overhot and coming off a month of not reading anything. This book grabbed me, demanded an instant reread, managed to burrow itself back into my reading history so it became as if I’d first read it when I was ten, again when I was eleven, every year until that summer, so that the real first time was actually like the tenth or eleventh read. Like Borges was inherent.

In understanding Borges, it is important to remember that, for him, literary experience has been more vivid and affecting than real experience, or, better said, that there is no sensible difference between the two; so that when Borges is talking about books and writers, it is like talking of landscapes and journeys, so vivid has his reading been to him. Through literature, he maintains, we can travel through time, and become all men; it is his Aleph.

Alastair Reid, in his introduction to Borges’ Seven Nights, which I started this morning on the train ride to work. I have not had my coffee yet and am basically a zombie, but I am that kind of zombie that will read Borges while half-dead. Also, the cover for Seven Nights is one of my favorites from New Directions, which is saying a lot, because there are many great covers.

…We dream we are reading a book, and the truth is we have invented every word in the book. But we don’t realize it, and we take it as strange. I have noted in many dreams this anticipatory process, which prepares us for the things to come.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Reblogged from writewritewriteon

And those of us, never angels, who are verbal, who “on this low, relative ground” write, those of us who lowly imagine that ascending into print is the maximum reality of experiences? May resignation––the virtue to which we must resign ourselves––be with us. It will be our destiny to mold ourselves to syntax, to its treacherous chain of events, to the imprecision, the maybes, the too many emphases, the buts, the hemisphere of lies and of darkness in our speech. And to confess (not without some ironic deception) that the least impossible classification of our language is the mechanics of phrases, whether they be active, passive, gerund, impersonal, or other.

Borges, in his essay “An Investigation of the Word” in On Writing.

I love that I flip this book open to any random page and oh, hey, brilliance.