You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language Borges would have been the first to point out that an answer in the affirmative to his own question would be a likely sign that the reader indeed had understood nothing of any importance So I won t make any claims I did however experience something approaching perfect reading pleasure, fully aware that perfection is unlikely to be approved by Borges being too static, unchangeable, and definitive Halfway through the essay collection, I became acutely conscious of knowing the stories already, but I was not able to recall whether I had read them before, or just heard about them in other essay collections It left me in the dreamlike, surreal state of mind that Borges enjoys evoking blurring the lines between reality and literature, proving over and over again that storytelling is the origin of humankind as a thinking species.Are we real Or are we just part of a giant narrative, told in infinite volumes of books in a labyrinthine library which contains us, the universe and all our imagination, including our deities Moving from one fictional character to the next Don Quixote, Hamlet, Dante in his fictional self and questioning our right to claim authenticity than these immortal characters, Borges involves his own identity as a person and as a writer in the narrative process, and makes a distinction between what Borges the person and Borges the writer of mythical dimensions represents, without being sure where one identity ends and the other begins I do not know which of us has written this page Why are readers confused when they realise that characters in books turn into readers of the same book, like Don Quixote in the second part of the Cervantes masterpiece Borges claims it disturbs our sense of reality We might be part of a story ourselves, a story about a character reading about reading, and reflecting on how to establish an objective identity.If our universe is a great labyrinthine library containing all the stories of the world, then time and space are meaningless measurements of life We can be in different stories at the same time, and change pattern, plot and character in case we are not happy with the thread we are following at the moment Next time I kill you , replied Scharlach, I promise you that labyrinth, consisting of a single line which is invisible and unceasing Why did I like this collection so much Why did it give me such a deep, deep sense of satisfaction, despite being obscure, incoherent, and slightly surreal I think the answer is that to me, the world is a library, and Borges gave me the narrative to prove that my reading and dreaming self is just as real as the self that is busy with everyday chores I have always felt at home in books in a way that I rarely feel at home in the world Within Borges labyrinth, I found my true home address Moving from Dante and Kafka over Shakespeare to Cervantes feels natural and logical to me, and I gather that I am among old friends I identify strongly with the idea of seeing the world as an infinite number of story fragments, all available to be reinterpreted by me, the reader I am part of the story as well, changing the narrative with my existence in time, just like Borges himself 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 I was Borges too, for a short time, while I read his words And it swept me away Although His Work Has Been Restricted To The Short Story, The Essay, And Poetry, Jorge Luis Borges Of Argentina Is Recognized All Over The World As One Of The Most Original And Significant Figures In Modern Literature In His Preface, Andre Maurois Writes Borges Is A Great Writer Who Has Composed Only Little Essays Or Short Narratives Yet They Suffice For Us To Call Him Great Because Of Their Wonderful Intelligence, Their Wealth Of Invention, And Their Tight, Almost Mathematical Style Labyrinths Is A Representative Selection Of Borges Writing, Some Forty Pieces Drawn From Various Books Of His Published Over The Years The Translations Are By Harriet De Onis, Anthony Kerrigan, And Others, Including The Editors, Who Have Provided A Biographical And Critical Introduction, As Well As An Extensive Bibliography . The stories, essays and parables in this Borges collection, with all their esoteric references to multiple histories, cultures and literatures, are no likely to appeal to a casual reader then a textbook on cognitive psychology To extract literary gold from highly intricate, complex works like The Garden of Forking Paths, Emma Zunz, The Library of Babel or The Zahir requires careful multiple readings as well as a willingness to occasionally investigate terms and references, for example here are several from The Zahir The Book of Rites, Isaac Laquendem, The Nibelungen, the novel Confessions of a Thug, The Book of Things Unknown.And, speaking of The Zahir, if I were to move from referring to the tale itself to the ideas which lie behind it, how would my review read What does it mean for a narrator to dissolve the universe into a single coin Why does Borges describe, right at the outset, how at different times in the past the Zahir, a coin he was handed in a bar, morphed into a tiger, a blind man, a small compass, a vein in the marble of a pillar, the bottom of a well How does one compress all time into this one sentence I am now writing And what of the philosophical and cultural context in which Borges wrote this tale Could a first person short story like The Zahir have been written in Ancient China Medieval Persia Colonial America These are questions that lie outside the framework of this Borges tale Or do they Philosophical musing on the reality of the Zahir propels Borges and us as readers to multiple worlds of a woman who seeks to makes every one of her actions correct to the point where she desires the absolute in the momentary the dark light of the Gnostics a dream where he, Borges the narrarator, becomes a pile of coins guarded by a gryphon Then, after Borges fascination with the Zahir slides into obsession, driving him to seek out a psychiatrist, he writes, Time, which softens memories, only makes the memory of the Zahir sharper First I could see the face of it, then the reverse now I can see both sides at once It is not as though the Zahir were made of glass, since one side is not superimposed upon the other rather it is as though the vision were spherical and the Zahir flutters in the center Such refection bring to mind Hesse s The Glass Bead Game, where the beads are, in fact, made of glass and can represent, in turn, cosmic topology, a fugue of celestial spheres, variations on relational placement as in the colors and lines of a Mondrian or circles with plasticity in Vasarely only the Zahir has about it unity then plurality, and thus one M bius strip, one musical note, one painting, one print Toward the very end we read Others will dream that I am mad, while I dream of the Zahir When every person on earth thinks, day and night of the Zahir, which will be dream and which reality, the earth or the Zahir Regarding the essays, Partial Magic in the Quixote opens us to a least a dozen unique angles in our approach to this Spanish classic Kafka and His Precursors explores the connection of writers like Kierkegaard and Browning along with Zeno s paradox to the famous author of The Metamorphosis The Mirror of Enigmas delves into conundrums such as the symbolic significance of Sacred Scriptures and various forms of metaphysical writings as reflected on by, among others, Philo of Alexandria Seven essays will bend and stretch you mind in ways you never thought possible.In the parable, Borges and I, the author conducts a dialogue with himself as well as, take your pick author, public persona, alter ego, younger self, older self, second self and is uncertain as he concludes his parable who exactly is the author of the lines he has just written Everything and Nothing is a parable featuring Shakespeare with a multiple identity crisis another parable, The Witness, has the narrator brooding over memory and death and yet in another parable, Inferno 1,32, we encounter a leopard, Dante, and God in what could be viewed as a dreamscape.Reading Labyrinths years ago, I was inspired to write this micro fiction as a tribute to Jorge Luis Borges LIFE STORYThe bold letters on the cover read Harold Blackman Life Story The book looks quite ordinary One is required to make a special inspection to see a queer spring like device along the spine Harold Blackman opens the book before him The title page is completely blank as are all the pages He runs gnarled fingers, tips calloused and slightly trembling, lightly over this ghost of a title page and reflects on the long agonizing nights when he tried to pen the fire of his youth and the spume of his manhood without success What he saw when the ink dried always left him feeling flat, unsettled Closing his eyes, he repeats an incantation learned from a half crazed Argentine, then opens them slowly, very slowly Harold Blackman, weary adventurer, is now standing on the writing table, shrunken to the size of the book Lying down on the title page, the back of his legs, buttocks and backbone relax to the paper s slight give He released a catch on the spine, the leather cover snapping shut with the vengeance of a mousetrap But for a muffled groan all is silence Over time, the blood seeps through the pages, forming, words, sentences, paragraphs. why haven t i read borges before no one knows and he was always pushed upon me how can you like marquez if you haven t read borges you like donoso you should read borges machado is good, but you should read borges so fine i did and i am utterly underwhelmed so there i am learning during my summer of classix that most of the books i have for some reason or another overlooked were probably overlooked for a reason i naturally gravitate towards what i like and i seem to have a filter that prevents me from picking up too many books i don t when i force it, this happens and i liked some of the stories but borges isn t for everyone although scrolling down my friends who have read list, it looks as though all my friends gave it five stars and i m not accusing you bitches of inflating your ratings, but i have the sense with borges that some people are guilted into liking him or pretending that they like him than they do because he s borges but i won t be because i am not ashamed of my intellectual shortcomings i embrace them i am incapable of abstract thought fact as hard as i try, that whole achilles tortoise thing does not compute so all of this hexagon spiraling into hexagon on top of hexagon i feel like i am back in college where every single person i ever knew had a copy of this book and was a stoner but this is classic stoner thinking chains reflections, labyrinths, it s perfect for that kind of mindset dooood, imagine we were in a hexagon right now and i know this makes sense to some people with philosophical and theological mindbents, but for me its almost pain there were about 6 stories i liked, but the first few almost made me weep with trying to find the value in them sorry, borges we were never meant to be.mmmmkay it seems that there are those who think it would be valuable in a book review to list the stories i did like so the shape of the sword, theme of the traitor and the hero, death and the compass, the secret miracle, three versions of judas, story of the warrior and the captive, emma zunz, the house of asterion, and the waiting than i thought i liked, but still a sad minority.come to my blog . A university professor had once expounded on the supposed conflict between history and literature, the former bemoaning the irrelevance of the latter when it comes to tracing the contours of reality while the latter countering this accusation by deploying the well known defense ofthere s no one way of looking at the truthIndeed Why restrict ourselves to just the one way and the one reality Why overlook the truth of infinite permutations and combinations of each eventuality and each one of them, in turn, forking off into myriad possibilities ad infinitum Why seek neat compartmentalization of two disparate disciplines and prevent their intermingling to create new streams of thought Why believe mathematics and literature to be so fundamentally apart that there can be no blending together of both without the results being distorted beyond intelligibility The very fact that the known limits of what s considered intelligible are being breached every moment, has its roots in the reluctance of labyrinthine minds like Borges to follow linear pathways Mysticism, mathematics, arcana, philosophy, and literary criticism A perfect blurring of the boundaries between fact and fiction leading to the creation of an entirely new entity which challenges the normative narrative form And a moment of perfect lucidity arising out of a churning of all these elements Where our imaginations come to a staggering halt, Borges begins I do not wish to squeeze out every last drop of meaning from these complex interpolations of a known truth into discrete bits of hitherto unknown logical conclusions by googling every reference I did not get Instead I delight in Borges perfectly synchronized demolition of all and any conventions associated with writing with an authorial preeminence, I gaze enthralled at the vision of clarity being birthed out of pure chaosIn a birdless dawn the magician saw the concentric blaze close round the walls For a moment, he thought of taking refuge in the river, but then he knew that death was coming to crown his old age and absolve him of labors He walked into the shreds of flame But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed him and engulfed him without heat or combustion With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by anotherI let my mind latch onto his even if for a little while and let it guide me into realms where only the divinity of thought reigns supreme in its many manifestations And, for now, that is enough.P.S It s good to know where DFW acquired his irksome yet awe inspiring footnoting habit from. . On his religious views, Borges declared himself as an agnostic, clarifying Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happenIt feels kind of strange to quote this after my initial brush with The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins where he refutes an agnostic stance vis vis an atheist one But I find myself adhering here with Borges Why to rob an already incomprehensible world of its myriad probabilities Perhaps it is not relevant to quote this here with regard to Labyrinths which is a distinct work in itself and can be taken as fantastical literature encompassing the unimagined However there also appear to be an underline theme running discreetly for most of the stories in this collection Attracted by metaphysics, but accepting no system as true, Borges makes out of all of them a game for the mind He discovers two tendencies in himself one to esteem religious and philosophical ideas for their aesthetic value, and even for what is magical or marvelous in their content That is perhaps the indication of an essential skepticism The other is to suppose in advance that the quantity of fables or metaphors of which man s imagination is capable is limited, but that this small number of inventions can be everything to everyone These lines from the preface to the work by Andr Maurois elaborates Borges agnostic stand and present to us a glimpse into the author s mind which seemingly wants to exhaust all the possibilities available to him by using them in different combinations to come to the point that anything is possible Working with the concept of time and space, myths and dreams Borges continuously constructs labyrinthine worlds whose contemplation is left to the imagination of the reader He seems to be postulating that man also mind, the world or Universe exists as an infinite entity whose centre is everywhere an individual , whose circumference is nowhere existing in infinite series of time There are numerous references in the work which propose this.According to Andr Maurois, Borges sets out to hunt the following metaphor, regarding infinity, through the centuries Pascal wrote Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhereAnd so from an enchanted mind, inspired by the possibility of fiction as reality and vice versa, is created an array of dreamlike worlds for the readers where readers continuously keep drifting from the boundaries of one to another dazed by the magical images appearing infinitely No one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist. Source Wikipedia Tl n is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men Labyrinths is a collection of short stories, essays, and other literary works It is my first experience with Borges, but it shall not be the last Borges writes but he does than that He s a chimaera, part philosopher, part academic, part historian, and part bibliognost His vast accumulated knowledge penetrates his work to create meta fiction that feels truly authentic, thus one has constantly remind oneself that Borges pens works of fiction and not treatises He bends thought, axioms, and orthodoxy in his readers He asks that you submit to his mind As a reward he elicits a delicious reverberation from his work and the beauty and wisdom of his stories that might appear vastly spread in theme and scope create a cohesive chef d oeuvre It spotlights the mind, a labyrinth, of those before us, those that have been, might have been, those that have etched their names in the annals of history They create the maze of thought that Borges, like Ariadne leading Theseus out of the Minotaur s labyrinth, leads us through After a taste of a small portion of his body of work, I have realized something vastly significant that I have missed Fiction relies as much on the accumulation of knowledge as it is an art form, that words are not only chosen and arranged, that you don t merely tell a story But you create a world out of all the information you ve learned, all the systems you ve mastered, and all the theories you ve dissected, all the things you ve read Maybe a writer is not like a divine creator who creates something out of nothing, but rather a modest chef who crafts something from the ingredients he has available to him These ingredients we get from our experiences, our studies, our reading Not only of fiction, but of philosophy, of different disciplines, of the ancients and of the myths People say that the best chefs are the gastronomists Might I presume to say the same thing for writers, that the best writers are those most widely read And Jorge Luis Borges is as well read a writer as any other He references both trendy works and works which no one reads any He creates haunting phantasms full of familiarity and novelty, unmatched works unique in sentiment He echoes the Cabbalists, the Greeks, the European philosophers, even Twain, yet his voice is unassumingly original In the works of others he finds his reflection staring back at him His pen is both an enigma and a revelation Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him I do not know which of us has written this page I have walked the winding path inside the mind of Borges, and the walls of his words enchant me If to be lost in his labyrinth is to be engulfed in silent brilliance, then I pray never to find my way again.