Posts Tagged ‘borges’

how to change the world:

Friday, September 23rd, 2011


(One day in September 1971 I discovered that if I made the slightest mark on a sheet of paper with a pencil, I was irrevocably altering the order of the universe. Any subsequent inventory or documentation of the order of the universe would have to include my mark, and therefore my act called for a new definition of the universal order. That means that changing the universe is a fairly simple thing, it is something that anyone can do, without any university studies. It is more difficult to try to convince the art market that you really did introduce a change, not to mention getting paid for the effort.

Luis Camnitzer, “Chronology”. posted 04.11.2010.)

You haven’t heard about the butterfly-wing theory? When a butter flutters its wings somewhere in China, they affect everything else in the world. That little flutter, what it causes, is connected to absolutely everything else. There is nothing, nothing, no action no matter how small, how insignificant, how invisible, between the blood cells…that does not set the next thing in motion, and that sets the next, and that goes on and on and on…And changes the world.

Jonas Mekas, “Step Across the Border”, 1990.

Three or four hundred yards from the Pyramid, I bent down, I scooped up a handful of sand, I let it silently spill a little further away and said under my breath: I am modifying the Sahara.

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Desert”, 1984.



Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

When I was a young man I was always hunting for new metaphors. Then I found out that really good metaphors are always the same. I mean you compare time to a road, death to sleeping, life to dreaming, and those are the great metaphors in literature because they correspond to something essential. If you invent metaphors, they are apt to be surprising during the fraction of a second, but they strike no deep emotion whatever. If you think of life as a dream, that is a thought, a thought that is real, or at least that most men are bound to have, no? “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.” I think that’s better than the idea of shocking people, than finding connections between things that have never been connected before, because there is no real connection, so the whole thing is a kind of juggling.

From an interview with Borges
From the Paris Review Interviews, now available online for free:

Fear. and Love.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Barthes, “A Lover’s Discourse“:

I am, intermittently, unfaithful. This is the condition of my survival; for if I did not forget, I should die. The lover who doesn’t forget sometimes dies of excess, exhaustion, and tension of memory (like Werther).

“The clinical fear of breakdown is the fear of a breakdown which has already been experienced.” … the lover’s anxiety: it is the fear of a mourning which has already occurred.


Jorge Luis Borges, “The Threatened One“:

It is love. I will have to hide or flee.

Its prison walls grow larger, as in a fearful dream.
The alluring mask has changed,
but as usual it is the only one.
What use now are my talismans, my touchstones:
the practice of literature,
vague learning,
an apprenticeship to the language used by the flinty Northland
to sing of its seas and its swords,
the serenity of friendship,
the galleries of the library,
ordinary things,
the young love of my mother,
the soldierly shadow cast by my dead ancestors,
the timeless night,
the flavor of sleep and dream?

Being with you or without you
is how I measure my time.

Now the water jug shatters above the spring,
now the man rises to the sound of birds,
now those who look through the windows are indistinguishable,
but the darkness has not brought peace.

It is love, I know it;
the anxiety and relief at hearing your voice,
the hope and the memory,
the horror at living in succession.

It is love with its own mythology,
its minor and pointless magic.
There is a street corner I do not dare to pass.
Now the armies surround me, the rabble.
(This room is unreal. She has not seen it)

A woman’s name has me in thrall.
A woman’s being afflicts my whole body.