Book Review: A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges (1961)

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A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

 

Borges and I

I:

Borges:

I:

Borges:

I: Do you like silence?

Borges: What silence?

I: The one you are filling up this space with right now?

Borges: This, is my ground. Contemplation, not Silence, my weapon. Thought, my battle.

I: A battle you are at advantage to withdraw from any time?

Borges (with a pre-emptive look): Is that so? Help me then, young lady.

I: Help you? With what?

Borges: With withdrawing from this battle.

I: Well, you are the originator. You should be the one to end it.

Borges (at once, hysterical): Oh I wish I was! How I wish I was! (settles back into sombreness)

But you see, my dear, the sham collapsed long ago and I realized I was never the originator and thus, I could never be the terminator. A mere pawn, an invested one at best, is what I am.

I (with a slight smirk): You surprise me; you really do. Nobody tells you but you go hopping across the world to hoard religious dockets. No one compels you but you throw the tangent of your imagination beyond measurable planes, and dimensions. No one asks you but you dig your hand deep into the bottomless ditch of metaphysical soil and god knows, come up with what treasures and perils. Nobody ever beguiles you into this rattling maze of the unknown but you keep sinking…

Borges (with look of a sage): and drowning.

I: Yes. Exactly.

Borges (gives his ameliorating look): I am glad you noticed the few voyages I have undertaken, if only to arrive hungrier than before. But what else can a mesmerized pawn do on this vast board of infinite territories? This board holding the keys to human mind and also locking its ability to think? It was the exhilaration of counting my presence on this board that drove me to write ‘Death and the Compass’.

I: A terrific story, especially the connection between the murder and the rhombus.

Borges: Thank you. You understand, then, that acquaintance with the unknown is the commencement of inebriation. And I, as a mere puppet with no volition of mine, was drawn into its vortex, sin preámbulos. By the time I wrote ‘The Aleph’, I was convinced that the sprawling body of this universe belonged to a single soul and each one of us, if patient and earnest, can earn the privilege of viewing it atleast once in our lifetime.

I: And that is why your protagonist endangers his sanity and life to have one glimpse of ‘The Aleph’ in a god-forsaken dungeon?

Borges: You could say so, albeit I believe any place, where ‘The Aleph’ chooses to appear in front of you will render its surroundings dark like a dungeon – it has a dazzling, blinding light of its own.

I: But that sounds similar to ‘The Zahir’ !

Borges: Ah! You little parallel-seeker! You are slowly getting my point. ‘The Zahir’ which sends a current of jubilation into a body with its clear, diaphanous appeal, is as powerful as ‘The Aleph’. Both have the power to converge and diverge, the many flights the heart takes and the home it finally lands at.

I: Your love for the infinity gushes all over your work. But it was your serpentine, labyrinthine writing that struck me as lethal; voluptuous even! That could be a deterrent to some of us…if you know what I mean.

Borges (chuckles): Hmmm… Well, I have sculpted my words to fit my emotion and not the other way around. And the satisfaction far outweighs the popular vote.
(pauses) I am like one of the verses in my book:

You have used up the years and they have used up you,
And still, and still, you have not written the poem.

I continued looking at him, smiling in awe and gratification.


*Borges and I appears also as a short note by Borges in this collection.

42-9

Read all my reviews here.

 

[Image courtesy http://www.allmacwallpaper.com]

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