A few days ago I posted a translation of some of Borges’ short stories from The Maker. I have fallen in love with this author, and he has officially become the third angle of my Sacred Literary Pyramid: Rimbaud, Dostoievskij, Borges… who will be the fourth? Shakespeare sounds like a suitable candidate, but I will have to read much much more before I can decide. Homer, perhaps? Maybe one day I will be able to place a Holy Triad for each face of my pyramid – maybe each face will be occupied by a Trinity of painters, musicians and film makers, as well as writers.
Rimbaud, Dostoievskij, Borges, then. I confess it has been a long time since I have read anything by, or about, the second. As far as the first is concerned, I must get my Arthur fix each day, but I will save my words for a future comment on one of his letters – some of them I find as interesting as his poetry.
Borges. Jorge Luis Borges. The very name evokes to me an old, consumed, tapestry, whose colours are never full and bright colours, but shades of all the colours our eyes can perceive, and those which only our hearts can perceive – flowers and leaves, constantly mutating in shape and size. The tapestry is alive and it speaks, or rather it whispers, in all the languages which exist and have existed and are once again understood by all as one.
The feeling of oneness and fragmentation is one of the themes of The Aleph collection. There is enough criticism about Borges’ work out there, and it would be quite pointless to repeat what critics and editors and fellow writers have stated. After all, all that matters the moment we reach the last full stop on the last page of the last book, is our own impression. So – here is my personal review of this gem, and I hope it will intrigue anyone enough to go and buy the book.
Oneness and fragmentation, we were saying. But also the awareness that opposite principles do exist, their conflict is never resolved, and their survival as precisely defined elements depends on that very opposition which constantly causes them to threaten each other, and ultimately represents the strong bond which allows them to keep existing. Plus, an extremely important factor, no knowledge or consciousness is attainable without the perception, the knowledge and the consciousness, of each of them as synonyms and contraries. If light is opposed to darkness, then it must be also true that, in the realm of darkness, darkness is light, and in that of light, light also functions as darkness. They are both the dominating principles of two opposite spheres which, in their opposition, resemble each other. To some extent, we could argue, they are each other.
Borges also shows interest in the concept of time and the mirror labyrinth of history. Everything is but a repetition of something else, only with a slight variation, as in a musical composition, where a theme is conceived, born, developed, constantly – but each time with a new detail, a new mood, a new hue – repeated, led to its climax and finally to death. Only to let a new composition awake from its ashes, with other slight variations, other shades, other tonalities, and so on, endlessly, in a circle – a tree whose branches become roots and roots, other branches. There it is, the Borges tapestry.
The Aleph is all this, and we are The Aleph. Or rather, The Aleph expresses itself through us, our gestures, our daily reality. Its characters and stories come to represent, by the end of book, all the faces, surfaces, colours, aspects, realities, moods, or whatever you will want to call them, of this absolute, total and indivisible conscience. Thousands of years of history, philosophy, literature, theology, love, memory, metaphysics, everyday gestures and thoughts, and buses to catch and Buenos Aires which could be Moorish Cordoba and Nazi Germany, and us, always, immortal through each other, all perfectly co-existent, simultaneous by a literary miracle, in the space of a few hundred pages.