Author 237599

Jorge Luis
Borges
1899
1986

Argentine Short-Story Writer, Essayist, Poet

Author Quotes

There is no whole self. It suffices to walk any distance along the inexorable rigidity that the mirrors of the past open to us in order to feel like outsiders, naively flustered by our own bygone days. There is no community of intention in them, nor are they propelled by the same breeze.

An infinite time has run its course before my birth; what was I throughout all that time? Metaphysically, the answer might perhaps be: I was always I; that is, all who during that time said I, were in fact I.

I do not deny this consciousness of being, nor the immediate security of here I am that it breathes into us. What I do deny is that all our other convictions must be adjusted to the customary antithesis between the self and the non-self, and that this antithesis is constant. The sensation of cold, of spacious and pleasurable suppleness, that is in me as I open the front door and go out along the half-darkness of the street is neither a supplement to a pre-existing self nor an event that comes coupled to the other event of a continuing and rigorous self.

I want to tear down the exceptional preeminence now generally awarded to the self, and I pledge to be spurred on by concrete certainty, and not the caprice of an ideological ambush or a dazzling intellectual prank. I propose to prove that personality is a mirage maintained by conceit and custom, without metaphysical foundation or visceral reality. I want to apply to literature the consequences that issue from these premises, and erect upon them an aesthetic hostile to the psychologism inherited from the last century, sympathetic to the classics, yet encouraging to today?s most unruly tendencies.

I, for example, am not the visual reality that my eyes encompass, for if I were, darkness would kill me and nothing would remain in me to desire the spectacle of the world, or even to forget it. Nor am I the audible world that I hear, for in that case silence would erase me and I would pass from sound to sound without memory of the previous one. Subsequent identical lines of argument can be directed toward the senses of smell, taste, and touch, proving not only that I am not the world of appearances ? a thing generally known and undisputed ? but that the apperceptions that indicate that world are not my self either. That is, I am not my own activity of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. Nor am I my body, which is a phenomenon among others. Up to this point the argument is banal; its distinction lies in its application to spiritual matters. Are desire, thought, happiness, and distress my true self? The answer, in accordance with the precept, is clearly in the negative, since those conditions expire without annulling me with them. Consciousness ? the final hideout where we might track down the self ? also proves unqualified. Once the emotions, the extraneous perceptions, and even ever-shifting thought are dismissed, consciousness is a barren thing, without any appearance reflected in it to make it exist.

Reality has no need of other realities to bolster it. There are no divinities hidden in the trees, nor any elusive thing-in-itself behind appearances, nor a mythological self that orders our actions. Life is truthful appearance.

The self [is] a mere logical imperative, without qualities of its own or distinctions from individual to individual.

There is no whole self. Any of life?s present situations is seamless and sufficient. Are you, as you ponder these disquietudes, anything more than an indifference gliding over the argument I make, or an appraisal of the opinions I expound? I, as I write this, am only a certainty that seeks out the words that are most apt to compel your attention. That proposition and a few muscular sensations, and the sight of the limpid branches that the trees place outside my window, constitute my current I. It would be vanity to suppose that in order to enjoy absolute validity this psychic aggregate must seize on a self, that conjectural Jorge Luis Borges on whose tongue sophistries are always at the ready and in whose solitary strolls the evenings on the fringes of the city are pleasant.

There is no whole self. He who defines personal identity as the private possession of some depository of memories is mistaken. Whoever affirms such a thing is abusing the symbol that solidifies memory in the form of an enduring and tangible granary or warehouse, when memory is no more than the noun by which we imply that among the innumerable possible states of consciousness, many occur again in an imprecise way. Moreover, if I root personality in remembrance, what claim of ownership can be made on the elapsed instants that, because they were quotidian or stale, did not stamp us with a lasting mark? Heaped up over years, they lie buried, inaccessible to our avid longing. And that much-vaunted memory to whose ruling you made appeal, does it ever manifest all its past plenitude? Does it truly live? The sensualists and their ilk, who conceive of your personality as the sum of your successive states of mind, are similarly deceiving themselves. On closer scrutiny, their formula is no more than an ignominious circumlocution that undermines the very foundation it constructs, an acid that eats away at itself, a prattling fraud and a belabored contradiction.

We are as ignorant of the meaning of the dragon as we are of the meaning of the universe.

We must be careful when choosing enemies because one ends up looking like them.

What they are at the end of words? Words are symbols of our shared memories. When I use a word, I expect that readers have some experience associated with its meaning.

When we read verses really extraordinary, really good, we tend to do it out loud. Good to not let read quietly or silently. If we succeed, it is not an effective way: the verse demands to be declaimed. The verse does not forget that he was an art oral art before being written, do not forget that he was singing.

Will it die? Everything that dies has had some kind of goal, some kind of work that hath laid the sulfur

You learn. After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul, and you learn that love doesn?t mean leaning and company doesn?t mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren?t contracts and presents aren?t promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child, and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow?s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn? that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure? that you really are strong and you really do have worth? and you learn and learn? with every good-bye you learn.

We are ignorant of the meaning of the dragon in the same way that we are ignorant of the meaning of the universe; but there is something in the dragon?s image that fits man?s imagination, and this accounts for the dragon?s appearance in different places and periods.

We must not be too prodigal with our angels; they are the last divinities we harbor, and they might fly away.

What type of sentence (I asked myself) will an absolute mind construct? I considered that even in human languages there is no proposition that does not imply the whole universe? I considered that in the language of a god every word would enunciate that infinite concatenation of facts, and not in an implicit but explicit manner, and not progressively but instantaneously? A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time. Shadows or simulacra of that single word equivalent to a language and to all language can embrace are the poor and ambitious human words, all, world, universe.

When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.

With another voice said the war served as women, for men q proven, and that before going into battle, no one knew who he is.

You think the fall is nothing but ignore that we are in Paradise?

We are like the wizard who weaves a labyrinth and is forced to wander through it till the end of his days

We publish not to go through life correcting drafts. I mean, we publish a book to get rid of him.

What we have is our own memory, we are that deceptive Museum variable forms, that pile of broken mirror

When you come right down to it, opinions are the most superficial things about anyone

Author Picture
First Name
Jorge Luis
Last Name
Borges
Birth Date
1899
Death Date
1986
Bio

Argentine Short-Story Writer, Essayist, Poet