Borges fictions pdf

borges the aleph and other stories and borges fable
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Contents A No te on Th is Edition XI I. EARLY WRITINGS 1922-1928 1 The Nothingness of Personality 3 After Images 10 Joyce's Ulysses 12 A History of Angels 16 Verbiage fo r Poems 20 A Profession of Literary Faith 23 Literary Pleasure 28 An Investigation of the Word 32 41 The Perpetual Race of Achilles and the To rtoise 43 The Duration of Hell 48 The Superstitious Ethics of the Reader 52 Our Inabilities 56 The Postulation of Reality 59 A Defense of Basilides the False 65 The Homeric Versions 69 Narrative Art and Magic 75 A Defense of the Kabbalah 83 The Art of Verbal Abuse 8 7 The Tr anslators of The Th ousand and One Nigh ts 92 I, a Jew 110 A Note on This Edition Jorge Luis Borges never wrote anything long, and so it is often assumed that he never wrote much. In fa ct, he was a man sworn to the virtue of concision who couldn't stop writing. There are a thousand pages of Borges' stories (including the ones he wrote with Adolfo Bioy Casares), five or six hundred pages of poetry, two dozen books of translations, and-to the matter at hand-thousands of pages of non-fiction: some twelve hundred essays, prologues, book reviews, film reviews, transcribed lectures, capsule biogra­ phies, encyclopedia entries, historical surveys, and short notes on politics and culture. The accumulation of so many compact writings makes their totality seem even more immense than the collected works of a prolific au­ thor of thick books. From this mountain- I avoid the word labyrinth-of non-fiction texts, much of it still uncollected in book fo rm in Spanish, I have chosen 161: a fr action of the work. Two -thirds of these pieces have never appeared in En­ glish before, and the rest have been newly translated for this edition. (The initials of the translator follow each entry.) English-language readers who associate Borges only with certain subjects (time, dreams, The Th ousand and One Ni ghts, gauchos, nineteenth-century English and American litera­ ture ... ) may be amazed at the extent of his interests. Like the Aleph in his famous story-the point in a basement in Buenos Aires fr om which one can view everything in the world-B arges' unlimited curiosity and almost superhuman erudition becomes, in the non-fiction, a vortex for seemingly the entire universe. Where else would one find Lana Tu rner, David Hume, and the heresiarchs of Alexandria in a single sentence? Those for whom Borges is the archetype of the detached and cerebral metaphysician may be surprised to find his scandalous polemics on Ar­ gentina and machismo, his principled stand against the Fascism and anti­ Semitism of the Argentine bourgeoisie in the 1930s and 1940s, and his A NOTE ON THIS EDITIO N XII courageous attacks on the Peron dictatorship. Borges, the blind old man of the popular image, was fo r years a movie critic. Borges, the recon­ dite scholar, was a regular contributor to the Argentine equivalent of the Ladies' Home Jo urnal. He was equally at home with Schopenhauer or Ellery Queen, King Kong or the Kabbalists, Lady Murasaki or Erik the Red, Jack London, Plotinus, Orson Welles, Flaubert, the Buddha, or the Dionne Quints. More exactly, they were at home with him. Borges is both a decep­ tively self-effacing guide to the universe and the inventor of a universe that is a guide to Borges. In contrast to how much he wrote, Borges published very few collections of his essays, and the publishing history and present state of these writings is indeed a labyrinth. In the 1920s, he released three books that he later dis­ owned and refused to allow to be reprinted in his lifetime. There were an­ other three between 1930 and 1936: two miscellanies and a thematic book on the Argentine past, Evaristo Carrie go. His next book of essays, Other Inquisi­ tions, came sixteen years later, in 1952, and includes less than fo rty of the hundreds of non-fiction pieces he wrote during this particularly prolific pe­ riod. There were no more new books of non-fiction for another twenty-odd years. Quite late in his life, and continuing after his death in 1986, a few ret­ rospective collections of his prologues, lectures, and reviews were gathered. (For a bibliography, see the notes.) Borges was essentially unknown outside of Argentina, even among Spanish-language readers, until the 1950s. As his fame grew, the fo ur unsup­ pressed books of essays began to go through various editions, and it was Borges' custom to include a few recent works in the reprints, while exclud­ ing or reinstating others. Thus some of the essays in a reprint of a book fr om 1930 could be written as much as twenty-five years later, and in a greatly changed style. The Spanish and French standard editions take, as the basis for their texts, the contents of the last reprint of each of these books. While this may make sense in the case of an individual work revised over the years by its writer, fo r Borges it creates an anachronistic jumble of styles and content. Worse, no one knows what to do with the uncollected work. The five thick volumes and over three thousand pages of the Spanish Complete Wo rks are arranged according to book publication, including the late or posthumous collections (such as Prologues, which spans over fifty years) and ignore everything that was never published in book fo rm. (This is now being cor­ rected by a series of volumes called Recovered Te xts. The first to appear, re-A NOTE ON THIS EDITIO N XIII covering only the years 1919 to 1929, is over fo ur hundred pages long.) The French Pleiade edition is based on the Spanish Complete Wo rks, but adds some uncollected pieces, oddly organized according to the magazines in which they were published. Almost a third of the texts here cannot be fo und in the Complete Wo rks. Because the individual books of essays were (with one exception) not thematic and were essentially handy repositories fo r whatever Borges fe lt like publishing at the time of their reprinting, or were collections gathered decades after the work was written, I have decided to ignore them as an or­ ganizing principle. (The publishing history of each essay, however, may be fo und in the notes.) Instead, I have chosen a simple chronological arrange­ ment, according to first publication-the date is noted at the end of each text- which allows the reader to see the evolution of Borges' style and the clusterings and revisions of his concerns, and to place each piece in its gen­ eral historical moment. (I have, however, used the final version of each indi­ vidual text, as some were slightly revised over the years.) I have divided the book into seven sections, and subdivided these by subgenre: essays, book reviews, film criticism, lectures, and prologues (a particularly Borgesian fo rm: he wrote hundreds of them). Only one section and one subsection are thematic: the Dante essays and the notes he wrote on Germany and World War II; these clearly belonged together. It is hoped that this arrangement will be completely straightforward for readers, although it is unique for an edition of Borges. Part I (Early Wr itings) presents eight essays fr om the first three books, which Borges disowned. Many feel that his self-criticism was overly severe: the essays remain interesting in themselves, and as examples both of youth­ fully exuberant, preliminary investigations into subjects that would become lifelong obsessions and of the early complex style he would simplify and refine over the decades. Part II (1929-193 6) begins the "canonical" Borges, and is drawn from the books of the early 1930s, as well as uncollected essays from that period and his film criticism. Part III is taken fr om the hundreds of articles he wrote fo r the women's magazine El Hagar Home every two weeks from 1936 to 1939. These include some of his one-page "Capsule Biographies" of modern writers, the very short and often hilarious book reviews and notes, and two essays. Given the special circumstances under which they were written and his intended audience, these pieces required a separate section. Part IV (1937-1945) picks up the chronology again and opens with A NOTE ON THIS EDITIO N XIV Borges' short articles on Germany, anti-Semitism, and the war. It also in­ cludes essays (some of which were collected years later in Other Inquisi­ tions), prologues, and further book and film reviews. Part Vis the complete text of the remarkable Ni ne Dant esque Essays, written between 1945 and 1951, unpublished in their entirety in Spanish until 1982, and unknown in English. Part VI (1946- 1955) returns to the chronology with more essays that would appear in Other Inquisitions, essays that were included in the reprints of the 1930s books or never collected, prologues, and two written lectures. In 1955, Borges lost his sight. After that, he wrote no more essays as such, and fewer stories. He devoted himself largely to poetry, which he could compose in his head, and surveys of topics such as American, English, and medieval Germanic literature, which he wrote with collaborators. He did, however, write scores of prologues to various books and to all the vol­ umes in the two series he edited at the end of his life, The Library of Babel, collections of fantastic tales, and A Personal Library, over seventy of his fa ­ vorite books. Before his blindness, Borges was so shy that, on the few occasions when he was asked to lecture, he sat on the stage while someone else read the text. In his last three decades, however, as his star rose and he was invited all over the world, he evolved a new fo rm that is still misleadingly given the old la­ bel "lecture." Closer perhaps to performance art, these were spontaneous monologues on given subjects. Relaxed and conversational, necessarily less perfect than the written essays, the lectures are, like the prologues, a par­ ticularly Borgesian subgenre and delight. To emphasize the orality of this late work, I have given the title "Dicta­ tions" to Part VII, which begins in 1956 after the loss of his sight and ends with his death in 1986. Five of the lectures are presented, and almost twenty of his prologues, including some important longer ones and some crys­ talline last thoughts on his readings. "Fiction" and "non-fiction" are notoriously blurred boundaries in Borges' fiction, but not in his non-fiction. That is, his fictions may often resemble non-fiction, or include factual elements, but his non-fictions never resem­ ble fiction, or include information that is not independently verifiable. (The word non-fiction, by the way, does not exist in Spanish, and Borges never used it, but essays seemed limiting or misleading for the types of work con­ tained here.) These writings have a few stylistic traits which perhaps should be sig-A NOTE ON THIS EDIT ION XV naled in advance. The first is the Borges sentence. He apparently took to heart Henry James' dictum that the true measure of civility was the proper use of the semicolon. Borges, particularly when he is compiling lists that span centuries, has a predilection fo r the endless sentence with semicolons as milestones along the route. Previous translators have tended to break these into short sentences that conform to the manuals of English style; the translators here have left them intact. Second, Borges likes to quote Latin, German, Italian, and French (but surprisingly, not English) sources in the original language and almost never off ers a translation, even in the Dante essays with their extensive citations. As an editor, I was torn between preserving the polyglot nature of the texts and a less utopian view of the fo reign language skills of many contemporary readers. My compromise was to include both the original and a translation of all quotations and book titles that are essential for understanding the text at that moment, but to leave relatively unimportant things untranslated­ for example, a book title that one can easily deduce is a German study of Buddhism. All the editorial translations are contained within square brack­ ets ; Borges' rare translations are in parentheses. Third, and most important, are the repetitions. Readers will immedi­ ately notice that the same phrases, sentences, paragraphs and on one occasion, pages recur throughout the book. The first reaction may well be that Borges, who was earning his living by writing hundreds of articles for diverse publi­ cations, was merely cutting corners by repeating himself. This is quite clearly not the case, as I discovered when my first editorial instinct was to wonder if any could be excised. Borges nearly always uses the same sentence to make a diff erent point, or as a bridge between points C and D that are not the points A and B that were linked the last time the sentence was used. The repetitions are part of his lifelong fascination with the way old ele­ ments can be reassembled, by chance or design, to create new variations, something entirely different, or something that is exactly the same but now somehow diffe rent. This is most clearly visible in one of his longest and most fa mous essays, "A New Refutation of Time," which not only cites the same paragraphs fr om Bishop Berkeley twice, but also reprints a prose piece fr om the 1920s that he had already reprinted in another "canonical" essay, "A History of Eternity." (Borges might have liked the fa ct that this same text is presented here in two diff erent English versions.) Needless to say, none of these translations abridge any of the original texts. It should also be said that this book has been edited for the English­ language reader. The result is that, with a half-dozen exceptions, a large XVI A NOTE ON THIS EDITIO N portion of Borges' writing has been neglected here: the hundreds of articles he wrote on Argentine literature and culture. Most of his subjects, unfortu­ nately, are generally unknown outside of the country, and unlike other writers who attempt to explain the national to an international audience, Borges was writing fo r Argentines about Argentina. These articles would have required a rich subsoil of footnotes to produce a meager interest. But it is important to note, at least, that Borges was an active participant in his na­ tional culture and extraordinarily generous, in the form of prologues and reviews, to his contemporaries. The English-language reader may well be misled by the practice of many of the major modern Anglo-American writers and assume that Borges' essays are merely addenda to the fiction or poetry, and now of inter­ est mainly to fans or scholars. In Latin America, however, it is frequen tly said that the best Borges is the essayist: the place where nearly all the ideas that propel the short stories, and many more, are elaborated in lively, diff er­ ent, and more detailed ways. This is not to depreciate the stories and poems-Borges himself often complains of a criticism that finds it neces­ sary to tear down one thing in order to promote another-but merely to in­ dicate the high and equal regard in which the non-fiction is held. In English, unlike many other languages, the essay has played a minor role in twentieth-century literature. In contrast to the other writing fo rms, there is almost no criticism on the essay, no articulated recognition of the way an essay may be written, and other than comments on its content, no consensus or dissent on how it should be read. At the present moment, it is largely represented by certain of its subgenres-m emoir, travel writing, per­ sonal journalism, book review, academic criticism-and the kind of fr ee­ ranging essay that Borges wrote is almost entirely absent from periodicals, outside of small literary journals. Abroad, essays in an unlimited variety of styles appear daily in the cul­ tural supplements of newspapers or in large-circulation intellectual maga­ zines. They tend to be written by poets or novelists, and it is often the case that the writers are known or respected as poets or novelists, but actually read as essayists. This is the milieu in which Borges wrote: much of the work here first appeared in newspapers. In that world, it was expected that essays be as fas cinating as stories, and it is revealing that, perhaps in order for his fiction to be read, he started out by disguising his stories as essays. ELIOT WEINBERGER Th e Nothingness of Personality Intention. 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 fo undation or visceral reality. I want to apply to literature the consequences that issue fr om these premises, and erect upon them an aesthetic hostile to the psychologism inherited fr om the last century, sympathetic to the classics, yet encouraging to today's most unruly tendencies. Course of action. I have noticed that, in general, the acquiescence conceded by a man in the role of reader to a rigorous dialectical linkage is no more than a slothful inability to gauge the proofs the writer adduces and a vague trust in the lat­ ter's rectitude. But once the book has been closed and the reading has dis­ persed, little remains in his memory except a more or less arbitrary synthesis of the whole reading. To avoid this evident disadvantage, I will, in the fo llowing paragraphs, cast aside all strict and logical schemas, and amass a pile of examples. There is no whole self. Any of life's present situations is seamless and suffi­ cient. Are you, as you ponder these disquietudes, anything more than an in­ difference 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. JORGE LUIS BORGES 4 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 fr inges 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 fo rm 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. Mo reover, 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, inac­ cessible to our avid longing. And that much-vaunted memory to whose rul­ ing 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 them­ selves. On closer scrutiny, their formula is no more than an ignominious circumlocution that undermines the very fo undation it constructs, an acid that eats away at itself, a prattling fr aud and a belabored contradiction. No one will pretend that, in the glance by which we take in a limpid night, the exact number of visible stars is prefigured. No one, on thinking about it, will accept that the self can depend on the hypothetical and never realized nor realizable sum of different states of mind. What is not carried out does not exist; the linkage of events in a tem­ poral succession does not refer to an absolute order. They err, as well, who suppose that the negation of personality I am urging with such obstinate zealotry refutes the certainty of being the isolated, individualized, and dis­ tinct thing that each of us fe els in the depths of his soul. 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 plea­ surable suppleness, that is in me as I open the fr ont 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 rig­ orous self. More over, even if the aforementioned reasons are misguided, I would refuse to surrender, fo r your conviction of being an individuality is in all THE NOTHING NESS OF PERSONA LITY 5 ways identical to mine and to that of any human specimen, and there is no way to separate them. There is no whole self. It suffices to walk any distance along the inexo­ rable rigidity that the mirrors of the past open to us in order to fe el like out­ siders, naively flustered by our own bygone days. There is no community of intention in them, nor are they propelled by the same breeze. This has been declared by those men who have truly scrutinized the calendars fr om which time was discarding them. Some, extravagant as fireworks, make a boast of so muddled a confusion and say that disparity is wealth; others, fa r fr om glorifying disorder, deplore the inequality of their days and yearn for the popular uniformity. I will copy out two examples. The first bears the date 1531; it is the epigraph to De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum, composed by the Kabbalist and astrologer Agrippa of Nettesheim in the disillusioned latter days of his life. He says: Among gods, all are shaken by the jeers of Mom us. Among heroes, Hercules gives chase to all the monsters. Among demons, Pluto, the King of Hell, oppresses all the shades. While Heraclitus weeps at everything, Pyrrho knows naught of anything, And Aristotle glories in knowing all. Diogenes spurns the things of this world, And I, Agrippa, am fo reign to none of this. I disdain, I know, I do not know, I pursue, I laugh, I tyrannize, I protest. I am philosophe r, god, hero, demon and the whole universe. The second testimonial comes fr om the third part of Torres Villarroel's Vida e historia. This systematizer of Quevedo, learned in astrology, lord and master of all words, expert wielder of the most strident rhetorical figures, also sought to define himself and probed his fundamental incongruence. He saw that he was like everyone else: that is, that he was no one, or little more than an unintelligible cacophon y, persisting in time and wearing out in space. He wrote: I am angry, fearful, compassionate, joyous, sad, greedy, generous, en­ raged, meek, and all the good and bad emotions and all the praise­ worthy and reprehensible actions that can be found in all men together or separately. I have tried out all the vices and all the virtues, and in a single day I feel inclined to weep and laugh, give and keep, repose and 6 JORGE LUIS BORGES suffer, and I am always unaware of the cause and the momentum of these contrarieties. I have heard this alternative of contrary impulses called madness; if it be so, we are all mad to a greater or lesser degree fo r I have noticed this unforeseen and repeated alternation in everyone. There is no whole self. Beyond all possibility of bombastic gamesman­ ship, I have touched this hard truth with my own emotions as I was separat­ ing fr om a companion. I was returning to Buenos Aires and leaving him behind in Mallorca. We both understood that, except in the perfidious or al­ tered proximity of letters, we would not meet again. What happens at such moments happened. We knew this good-bye would jut out in our memo­ ries, and there was even a period when we tried to enhance its flavor with a vehement show of opinions fo r the yearnings to come. The present moment was acquiring all the prestige and indeterminacy of the past .... But beyond any egotistical display, what clamored in my chest was the will to show my soul in its entirety to my fr iend. I would have wanted to strip myself of it and leave it there, palpitating. We went on talking and de­ bating, on the brink of good-bye, until all at once, with an unsuspected strength of conviction, I understood that this personality, which we usually appraise at such an incompatibly exorbitant value, is nothing. The thought came over me that never would one fu ll and absolute moment, containing all the others, justify my life, that all of my instants would be provisional phases, annihilators of the past turned to face the future, and that beyond the episodic, the present, the circumstantial, we were nobody. And I de­ spised all mysterizing. The last century was rootedly subjective in its aesthetic manifestations. Its writers were more inclined to show off their personalities than to establish a body of work, an aphorism that is also applicable today to the teeming and highly acclaimed mob of those who profit fr om the glib embers of that cen­ tury's bonfires. However, my purpose is not to lash out against one or the other of these groups, but to consider the Calvary toward which idolaters of themselves are on a fatal course. We have already seen that any state of mind, however opportunistic, can entirely fill up our attention, which is much the same as saying that it can form, in its brief and absolute term, our essence. Which, translated into the language of literature, means that to try to express oneself and to want to express the whole of life are one and the same thing. A strenuous, panting dash between the prodding of time and TH E NOTHIN GN ESS OF PERSONAL ITY 7 man, who, like Achilles in the illustrious conundrum fo rmulated by Zeno of Elea, will always see himself in last place .... Whitman was the first Atlas who attempted to make this obstinacy a reality and take the world upon his shoulders. He believed he had only to enumerate the names of things in order to make their unique and surpris­ ing nature immediately palpable. Therefore, his poems, along with a great deal of fine rhetoric, string together garrulous series of words, sometimes repeated fr om geography or history primers, which kindle lofty signs of ad­ miration and mimic great enthusiasms. From Whitman on, many have been caught up in this same fallacy. They have said: I have not tormented the language in quest of unexpected intensities or verbal marvels. I have not spun out even a slight paradox capable of creating a stir in your conversation or sending its sparks out through your laborious silence. Nor did I invent a tale around which lengthy spans of attention would cluster, as many futile hours cluster in remem­ brance around one hour in which there was love. None of that did I do nor have I determined to do and yet I wish fo r enduring fa me. My justi­ fication is as follows: I am a man astonished by the abundance of the world: I bear witness to the unicity of things. Like the most illustrious of men, my life is located in space, and the chiming of unanimous clocks punctuates my duration in time. The words I use are not redo­ lent of fa r-flung readings, but signs that mark what I have felt or con­ templated. If ever I made mention of the dawn, it was not merely to follow the easy current of usage. I can assure you that I know what the Dawn is: I have seen, with premeditated rejoicing, the explosion that hollows out the depths of the streets, incites the slums of the world to revolt, humiliates the stars and broadens the sky by many leagues. I also know what a jacaranda, a statue, a meadow, a cornice are .... I am like everyone else. This is my boast and my glory. It matters little whether I have proclaimed it in feeble verses or in rough-hewn prose. The same is asserted, with greater skill and mastery, by painters. What is contemporary painting-that of Picasso and his pupils-but a rapt confir­ mation of the gorgeous unicity of a king of spades, a gatepost, or a chess board? Romantic ego-worship and loudmouthed individualism are in this way wreaking havoc on the arts. Thank God that the lengthy examination 8 JORGE LUIS BORGES of spiritual minutiae that this demands of the artist forces him back to the eternal classic rectitude that is creation. In a book like Ram6n G6mez de la Serna's Greguerias, the currents of both tendencies intermingle, and as we read we are unaware if what magnetizes our interest with such unique fo rce is a copied reality or is of pure intellectual fabrication. The self does not exist. Schopenhauer, who often appears to adhere to this opinion, at other times tacitly denies it, I know not whether deliberately or because he is compelled by the rough, homespun metaphysics-or rather ametaphysics-that lurks in the very origins of language. Neverthe­ less, despite this disparity, there is a passage in his work that illuminates the alternative like a sudden blast of flame. I shall transcribe it: An infinite time has run its course before my birth; what was I through­ out all that time? Metaphysically, the answer might perhaps be: I was always I; that is, all who during that time said I, were in fa ct I. Reality has no need of other realities to bolster it. There are no divini­ ties 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 senses do not deceive, it is the mind that deceives, said Goethe, in a maxim we could compare to this line by Macedonia Fernandez: La realidad trabaja en abierto misterio Reality works in overt mystery There is no whole self. Grimm, in an excellent presentation of Bud­ dhism (Die Lehre des Bud dha, Munich, 1917), describes the process of elim­ ination whereby the Indians arrived at this certainty. Here is their millennially eff ective precept: "Those things of which I can perceive the be­ ginnings and the end are not my self." This rule is correct and needs only to be exemplified in order to persuade us of its virtue. I, fo r example, am not the visual reality that my eyes encompass, fo r 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, fo r in that case si­ lence 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 THE NOTHINGN ESS OF PERSONALITY 9 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 oth­ ers. Up to this point the argument is banal; its distinction lies in its applica­ tion 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. Grimm observes that this rambling dialectical inquiry yields a result that coincides with Schopenhaue r's opinion that the self is a point whose immobility is useful fo r discerning, by contrast, the heavy-laden flight of time. This opinion translates the self into a mere logical imperative, without qualities of its own or distinctions fr om individual to individual. 1922 EA After Images With the ambitious gesture of a man who, contemplating the astral gener­ osity of the spring sky, would crave yet another star and, dark in the bright night, would demand that constellations shatter their incorruptible destiny and renew their flame with signs unseen by the ancient gaze of sailors and shepherds, I sounded my throat once, imploring the incontrovertible heaven of art to sanction our gift for appending unforeseen lights and braiding into stunning crowns the perennial stars. How taciturn was Buenos Aires then From its harsh grandeur, twice a millionaire of possible souls, no pious provider of a single true verse emerged, while the six strings of any guitar were closer to poetry than those fictive counterfeits of Ruben Daria or Luis Carlos Lopez that infested the journals. Youth was scattered in the penumbra, and each alone judged himself. We were like the lover who claims his heart to be the only to flaunt love, like the glowing branch heavy with spring which ignores the fe stive poplar groves. We proudly believed in our fictitious solitude of gods or blooming islands, unique in the sterile sea, and we felt rising to the beaches of our hearts the urgent beauty of the world, entreating us unremittingly to an­ chor it in verse. New moons, fences, the soft color of the outlying districts, the bright fa ces of little girls, were fo r us obligatory beauty, calling for dar­ ing inventions. We came upon the metaphor, that resonant conduit our paths will never fo rget and whose waters have left their mark in our writing, perhaps comparable to the red mark that revealed the chosen to the Angel or the blue mark on houses condemned by Rosas' police, promising perdi­ tion. We came upon the metaphor, the invocation by which we disordered the rigid universe. For the believer, things are the fulfillment of God's word-in the beginning Light was named, and then it illuminated the world; for the positivist they are the fated accidents of interlocking events. Metaphor , linking distant things, fr actures that double rigidity. At length we AFTER IMAGES 11 exhausted it, in sleepless, assiduous nights at the shuttle of its loom, string­ ing colored threads fr om horizon to horizon. To day metaphor is fa cile in any style, and its glitter-star of interior epiphanies, our gaze-multiplies in mirrors. But I do not want us to rest on our laurels; I hope our art can forget, and plunge into untouched seas, as adventurous night leaps fr om the beaches of day. I wish this zeal to weigh like a halo over all our heads; I shall reveal it in words. The image is witchcraft. Turning a fire into a tempest, as did Milton, is the work of a wizard. Changing the moon into a fish, a bubble, a comet-as Rossetti did, fal ling into error even before Lugones-is a lesser trick. There is someone superior to the trickster or the wizard. I am speaking of a demigod, an angel, whose works alter the world. To add provinces to Being, to envision cities and spaces of a hallucinatory reality, is a heroic adventure. Buenos Aires has not yet attained its poetic immortality. On the pampas, a gaucho once improvised songs to spite a devil; nothing has happened yet in Buenos Aires, whose grandeur has not been validated by a symbol, a sur­ prising fable, or even an individual destiny comparable to Martin Fierro's. I do not know if a divine will is at work in the world, but if such exists, It con­ ceived the pink-walled general store, this opulent spring, that shiny red gas meter. (What a perfect drumroll fo r Judgment Day the latter is) I would like to commemorate two attempts to concoct city fa bles: one is the total poem woven by the tangos-a vulgar, precarious distortion of the people into parodies, whose sole character is the nostalgic hoodlum, and whose only circumstance is prostitution; the other is the brilliant, oblique humor of Papeles de Recienvenido by Macedonia Fernandez. A final example. It is not enough to say, in the manner of all poets, that mirrors are like water. Nor is it enough to take this hypothesis as an absolute and presume, like some Huidobro, that cool breezes blow fr om mirrors or that thirsty birds drink fr om them, leaving their fr ames empty. We must make manifest the whim transformed into reality that is the mind. We must reveal an individual reflected in the glass who persists in his illusory country (where there are figures and colors, but they are ruled by immutable silence) and who feels the shame of being only a simulacrum obliterated by the night, existing only in glimpses. SJL Joyce's Ulysses I am the first traveler fr om the Hispanic world to set foot upon the shores of Ulysses, a lush wilderness already traversed by Valery Larbaud, who traced its dense texture with the impeccable precision of a mapmaker (Nouvelle Revue Fran aise XVIII), but which I too will describe, even though my visit r; within its borders has been inattentive and transient. I will speak of it with the license my admiration lends me and with the murky intensity of those ancient explorers who described lands new to their nomadic amazement, and whose stories about the Amazons and the City of the Caesars combined truth and fa ntasy. I confess that I have not cleared a path through all seven hundred pages, I confess to having examined only bits and pieces, and yet I know what it is, with that bold and legitimate certainty with which we assert our knowledge of a city, without ever having been rewarded with the intimacy of all the many streets it includes. James Joyce is Irish. The Irish have always been fa mous for being the icono­ clasts of the British Isles. Less sensitive to verbal decorum than their de­ tested lords, less inclined to pour their eyes upon the smooth moon or to decipher the impermanence of rivers in long fr ee-verse laments, they made deep incursions into the territory of English letters, pruning all rhetorical exuberance with fr ank impiety. Jonathan Swift acted like a corrosive acid on the elation of human hope, and Voltaire's Micromegas and Candide are no more than cheaper versions of his severe nihilism. Laurence Sterne unrav­ eled the novel by making merry with the reader's expectations, and those oblique digressions are now the source of his multitudinous fa me; Bernard Shaw is today's most pleasing realist; but of Joyce I will say that he exercises with dignity his Irish audacity. His life, measured in space and time, will take up a mere few lines, J 0 Y C E ' S U I. l' S S E S 1 3 which my ignorance will abbreviate fu rther. He was born in Dublin in 1882, into an eminent and piously Catholic fa mily. He was educated by the Je­ suits. We know that he possesses a classical culture, that he is not unfamiliar with scholasticism, that there are no errors of diction in his Latin phrases, that he has wandered the various countries of Europe, and that his children were born in Italy. He has composed lyrics, short stories, and a novel of cathedral-like grandeur, the motivation of this review. Ulysses is variously distinguished. Its life seems situated on a single plane, without those steps that take us mentally fr om each subjec tive world to an objecti ve stage, fr om the whimsical daydream of one man's uncon­ scious to the fr equently trafficked dreams of the collective mind. Conjec­ ture, suspicion, fleeting thought, memories, lazy thinking, and the carefully conceived enjoy equal privilege in this book; a single point of view is notice­ ably absent. This amalgamation of dreams and the real might well have pro­ voked the consent of Kant and Schopenhauer. The fo rmer did not deal with any distinction between dreams and reality other than that legitimated by the causal nexus constant in everyday life, and which fr om dream to dream does not exist. According to the latter, no criteria exist to distinguish dreams and reality, other than the merely empirical data provided by waking life; he added with meticulous elucidations that real life and the dream world are pages of the same book, and that custom calls real life the orderly reading, and dreams what we leaf through with lazy negligence. I wish, therefore, to remember the problem articulated by Gustav Spiller in Th e Mind of Man on the relative reality of a room seen objectively, then in the imagination, and lastly, duplicated in a mirror; he resolves that all three are real, and visually each takes up an equal amount of space. As one can see, Minerv a's olive tree casts a gentler shadow than the lau­ rel upon the worthy Ulysses. I cannot find any literary ancestors, except per­ haps Dostoevsky in his later years after Crime and Punishment, and even then, who knows. So let us admire the provisional miracle. In Joyce's unrelenting examination of the tiniest details that constitute consciousness, he stops the flow of time and defers its movement with a pacifying gesture contrary to the impatient goading of the English drama, which encloses the life of its heroes in the narrow, thrusting rush of a few crowded hours. If Shakespeare-to use his own metaphor-invested in the turning of the hourglass the exploits of many years, Joyce inverts the proce­ dure and unfolds his hero's single day into many days upon the reader. (I haven't said many naps.) A total reality teems vociferously in the pages of Ulysses, and not the JORGE LUIS BORGES 14 mediocre reality of those who notice in the world only the abstract opera­ tions of the mind and its ambitious fe ar of not being able to overcome death, nor that other reality that enters only our senses, juxtaposing our flesh and the streets, the moon and the well. The duality of existence dwells within this book, an ontological anxiety that is amazed not merely at being, but at being in this particular world where there are entranceways and words and playing cards and electric writing upon the translucence of the night. In no other book (except perhaps those written by Gomez de la Serna) do we witness the actual presence of things with such convincing firmness. All things are latent, and the diction of any voice is capable of making them emerge and of leading the reader down their avenue. De Quincey recounts that it was enough to name the Roman consul in his dreams to set off fiery visions of flying banners and military splendor. In the fifteenth chapter of his work, Joyce sketches a delirious brothel scene, and the chance conjuring of any loose phrase or idea ushers in hundreds-the sum is not an exaggeration but exact-of absurd speakers and impossible events. Joyce portrays a day in modern life and accumulates a variety of episodes in its course which equal in spirit those events that inform the Odyssey. He is a millionaire of words and styles. Aside fr om the prodigious funds of voices that constitute the English language, his commerce spreads wher­ ever the Irish clover grows, fr om Castilian doubloons and Judas' shekels to Roman denarii and other ancient coinage. His prolific pen exercises all the rhetorical figures. Each episode exalts yet another poetic strategy, another private lexicon. One is written in syllogisms, another in questions and answers, another in narrative sequence. In two of them there is a silent soliloquy-a heretofore unpublished form (derived from the Frenchman Edouard Dujardin, as Joyce told Larbaud) through which we hear his char­ acters think at length. Beside the new humor of his incongruities and amid his bawdyhouse banter in macaronic prose and verse, he raises rigid struc­ tures of Latin rigor like the Egyptian's speech to Moses. Joyce is as bold as the prow of a ship, and as universal as a mariner's compass. Te n years fr om now-his book having been explicated by more pious and persistent re­ viewers than myself-we will still enjoy him. Meanwhile, since I have not the ambition to take Ulysses to Neuquen and study it in quiet repose, I wish to make mine Lope de Vega's respectful words regarding Gongora: