As Borges himself showed us in so many stories — "The Aleph", "The Garden of Forking Paths", "The Gift", "Blue Tigers", "Shakespeare's Memory" — a blessing is always a mixed blessing.As Borges noted sadly, he inherited a library, and blindness; we who study Borges inherit great sight, yet the rest of the library somehow fades.(pg 303, "What I Lost When I Translated Jorge Luis Borges")
And yet, and yet… Denying temporal succession, denying the self, denying the astronomical universe, are apparent desperations and secret consolations. Our destiny … is not frightful by being unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and iron-clad. Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.
A writer always begins by being too complicated—he’s playing at several games at once.
I owe my first inkling of the problem of infinity to a large biscuit tin that was a source of vertiginous mystery during my childhood.
Ferrari: How odd, Borges, it seems that we are talking constantly through memory. Sometimes, our conversations remind me of a dialogue between two memories.Borges: In fact, that’s what it is. If we are something, we are our past, aren’t we? Our past is not what can be recorded in a biography or in the newspapers. Our past is our memory. That memory can be hidden or inaccurate—it doesn’t matter. It’s there, isn’t it? It can be a lie but that lie becomes part of our memory, part of us. (Conversations, Vol. 1)
The three of them knew it. She was Kafka’s mistress. Kafka had dreamt her. The three of them knew it. He was Kafka’s friend. Kafka had dreamt him. The three of them knew it. The woman said to the friend, Tonight I want you to have me. The three of them knew it. The man replied: If we sin, Kafka will stop dreaming us. One of them knew it. There was no longer anyone on earth. Kafka said to himself Now the two of them have gone, I’m left alone. I’ll stop dreaming myself.
How can we manage to illuminate the pathos of our lives?
One day or one night—between my days and nights, what difference can there be?—I dreamed that there was a grain of sand on the floor of my cell. Unconcerned, I went back to sleep; I dreamed that I woke up and there were two grains of sand. Again I slept; I dreamed that now there were three. Thus the grains of sand multiplied, little by little, until they filled the cell and I was dying beneath that hemisphere of sand. I realized that I was dreaming; with a vast effort I woke myself. But waking up was useless—I was suffocated by the countless sand. Someone said to me:You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of the grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and you will die before you have truly awakened.I felt lost. The sand crushed my mouth, but I cried out: I cannot be killed by sand that I dream —nor is there any such thing as a dream within a dream.— Jorge Luis Borges, The Writing of the God
I never reread what I've written. I'm far too afraid to feel ashamed of what I've done.
The story of two dreams is a coincidence, a line drawn by chance, like the shapes of lions or horses that are sometimes formed by clouds.