Argentine Short-Story Writer, Essayist, Poet
Argentine Short-Story Writer, Essayist, Poet
Of course, like all young men, I tried to be as unhappy as I could ? a kind of Hamlet and Raskolnikov rolled into one.
One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read.
Out of some friendships and many habits, the problematic practice of literature constituted his life; Like every writer, he measured the virtues of others so executed by them and asked that others would measure so envisioned or planned.
Quain used to argue that readers were an already extinct species. 'No European' (reasoned) ' other than a writer, potential or actual.' An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain.
So witless did these ideas strike me as being, so sweeping and pompous the way they were expressed, that I associated them immediately with literature.
Tennyson said that if we could understand a single flower we would know who we are and what the world is. Perhaps he meant that there is no deed, however so humble, which does not implicate universal history and the infinite concatenation of causes and effects. Perhaps he meant that the visible world is implicit, in its entirety, in each manifestation, just as, in the same way, will, according to Schopenhauer, is implicit, in its entirety, in each individual.
The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.
The European and the North American consider that a book that has been awarded any kind of prize must be good; the Argentine allows for the possibility that the book might not be bad, despite the prize.
The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts'ui Pˆn conceived it. In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us.
The library will endure; it is the universe. As for us, everything has not been written; we are not turning into phantoms. We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and our future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information.
The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate. I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship. I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things. Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone, and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him. I do not know which of us has written this page.
The tango is a direct expression of something that poets have often tried to state in words: the belief that a fight may be a celebration.
The web of time - the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect, or ignore each other through the centuries - embraces "every" possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and in yet others both of us exist.
There are official searchers, inquisitors. I have seen them in the performance of their function: they always arrive extremely tired from their journeys; they speak of a broken stairway which almost killed them; they talk with the librarian of galleries and stairs; sometimes they pick up the nearest volume and leaf through it, looking for infamous words. Obviously, no one expects to discover anything.
There is no exercise of the intellect which is not, in the final analysis, useless. A philosophical doctrine begins as a plausible description of the universe; with the passage of the years it becomes a mere chapter ? if not a paragraph or a name ? in the history of philosophy.
They seek neither truth nor likelihood; they seek astonishment. They think metaphysics is a branch of the literature of fantasy
Those who say that art should not propagate doctrines usually refer to doctrines contrary to theirs.
To arrange a library is to practice in a quiet and modest way the art of criticism.
Tomorrow, in the fields of my kingdom, may you have a happy battle. May your kingly hands be terrible in weaving the sword stuff. May those opposing your sword become meat for the red swan. May your many gods glut you with glory, may they glut you with blood. Victorious may you be in the dawn, king who treads on Ireland. Of your many days may none shine bright as tomorrow. Because that day will be the last. I swear it to you, King Magnus. For before its light is blotted, I shall vanquish you and blot you out, Magnus Barfod.
My books standing there on the shelf do not know that I have written them.
My work tools are humiliation and anguish; what I would not give to be stillborn me!
Of the various instruments invented by man, the most amazing is the book; all others are extensions of his body... Only the book is an extension of imagination and memory .
One of the habits of mind is the invention of horrible imaginings.
Out of this city marched armies that seemed to be great, and afterwards were when glory had magnified them. As the years went by, an occasional soldier returned, and with a foreign trace to his speech, told tales of what had happened to him in places called Ituzaingo or Ayacucho. These things, now, are as if they had never been.
Quain used to argue that readers were an already extinct species. No European -reasoned- other than a writer, potential or actual. He claimed also that the various congratulations that can minister the literature, the higher the invention.