Borges’ stories are dry. Although they spawn on several pages, what they say can be said in a couple of sentences. They are not funny, nor poetical, nor sparkling… but they are interesting. They explore a realm of possibility and give it a certain form, a certain Gestalt. It is something one would not be able to get from somewhere else. The essays are, on the other hand, just perfect to read:
The Argentine Writer and the Tradition – not insisting on the tradition is a proof of belonging to a tradition (Gibbon’s – Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – the Koran is written by Mohamed and he was certainly an Arab because there is no mention of camels in this book; because that would be something like a supposition – for an Arab, the camels are as obvious as daylight. What a falsifier would do is briskly “have a surfeit of camels, caravans of camels, on every page”. The Wall of Books – Shih Huang Ti – the Chinese emperor who both built the Great Wall and ordered that all books written before him be destroyed.
Partial Magic in the Quixote – a must read on narrative identity. The play within the play, the story within the story. It ends with: “why does it disturb us that the map be included in the map and the thousand and one nights in the book of the Thousand and One Nights? Why does it disturb us that Don Quixote be a reader of the Quixote and Hamlet a spectator of Hamlet? I believe I have found the reason: these inversions suggest that if the characters of a fictional work can be reader or spectators we, its readers and spectators, can be fictitious. In 1833, Carlyle observed that the history of the universe is an infinite sacred book that all men write and read and try to understand, and in which they are also written.” (196)
A New Refutation of Time – “If time is a mental process, how can thousand of men – or even two different men – share it? From Shaw – What you can suffer is the maximum of that can be suffered on earth. (…) Neither poverty, nor pain are cumulative.”
Then, in Avatars of the Tortoise – “Art – always – requires visible unrealities.” (207)
MAK – Kapoor – another perspective, the same idea – the possibility of things that never existed. Going back to Plato, we could talk about creating Ideas. The object one sees is an object in a class of its own. This week, apparently, Kapoor will be in Wien giving a talk. Will try to get there.
Katagami (1, 2, )– in MAK – the collection of Heinrich Siebold. Hundreds of wonderfully crafted paper stencils, for dyeing fabrics. One could spend hours admiring them. If one would buy the fabric for a kimono, one would get the pattern as well (would get the copyright). Because they are of paper, these patterns only lasted for about 10-12 lengths of fabric.
At the movies – Der Knochenmann
The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother’s heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. (read in a blog)