Jorge Borges
April 28, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Jorge Luis Borges delivers the Norton lectures at Harvard, 1968: The Riddle of Poetry :: The Metaphor :: A Poet's Creed
posted by puny human (17 comments total) 82 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this! I look forward to listening.

If anyone on the Blue isn't familiar with the work of Borges, here's one of his short stories (a personal favorite):
The Shape of the Sword
posted by jnrussell at 2:09 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by grobstein at 2:22 PM on April 28, 2011

These are amazing, I ordered CDs of these lectures a year or so ago.

Available here, and probably elsewhere...
posted by garethspor at 2:24 PM on April 28, 2011

Also, one of these inspired me to make this forged diagram for a friends art project...
posted by garethspor at 2:26 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Garden of Forking Paths (El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan)
posted by puny human at 2:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

My favorite Borges quote, about why he wrote reviews of nonexistent books:

"It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books, setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them."
posted by Triplanetary at 3:16 PM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]

There was a time at university when I was very wrapped up in Borges. I can't recommend him enough. Personal favorites include Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, which inspired Grant Morrison's first Doom Patrol story.
'Pierre Meynard, Author of the Quixote' is another favorite, as is The Library of Babel.
He's had a pervasive influence on modern writers - see House of Leaves or Sandman - but none can match his frightening, suggestive economy.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:29 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

garethspor, it's very important to me (and absolutely no one else) that you know that if that notebook existed, it would be at Houghton Library, not at the Archives.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:53 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Jorge, is that you? Posting as Horace Rumpole, years after your "death"?
posted by IAmBroom at 7:34 PM on April 28, 2011

For years, I wondered if Shirley Jackson plagiarized "The Lottery" from Jorge Luis Borges' earlier (and better) "The Lottery in Babylon".

I've since decided it was parallel evolution; the idea, however similar in development, is rather simple. It almost has to be written, and I would be surprised if it didn't exist as original Chinese, Japanese, and Indian-language stories as well.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:40 PM on April 28, 2011

Mis libros

Mis libros (que no saben que yo existo)
son tan parte de mí como este rostro
de sienes grises y de grises ojos
que vanamente busco en los cristales
y que recorro con la mano cóncava.
No sin alguna lógica amargura
pienso que las palabras esenciales
que me expresan están en esas hojas
que no saben quién soy, no en las que he escrito.
Mejor así. Las voces de los muertos
me dirán para siempre.

posted by AwkwardPause at 9:47 PM on April 28, 2011

The Aleph

"On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph's diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror's face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny -- Philemon Holland's -- and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon -- the unimaginable universe.

I felt infinite wonder, infinite pity."
posted by puny human at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got the book of these several years ago and was about halfway through before I realized that the quotes he brought in, the texts he cited, the translations he referred to, and indeed his entire series of lectures was all coming from memory: he had been blind as a bat for years.

They don't make them like that anymore.
posted by bokane at 1:24 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

There's probably a simple answer to the question of why an Argentine has an accent that sounds mildly Scottish...anyone?
posted by ecourbanist at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2011

I don't know, but it's frequently the case that you can hear the accent of the person who taught them in the English of a non-native speaker.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

He learned to speak English from his grandmother, Fanny Haslam, who was from the Midlands.
posted by minkll at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

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