Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



Quel est le personnage de Molière qui ressemble à une figure de rhétorique?
C'est Alceste, parce qu'il est mis en trope.
-- Flaubert

Reading Edwin Williamson's Borges: a life (Dirda is too generous), I'm glad I waited for the paperback: the cost reduction made up for other reductive aspects, particularly that Williamson overexplains JLB's motivation for writing in Freudian terms, with selective quotepulling, to the extent of fabricating an fiction automaton, a golem that may be deanimated by striking one letter (Borges: a life). Having preceded this with Alberto Manguel's Into the Looking Glass Wood, with its superior essay "Borges in Love", it's undeniable that JLB suffered from being unlucky in love (and from the effects of his family's decline), but forcing this to emanate from ancestral influence to determine in full his sense of self and his writing with the obstinate consistency of a symbolic cipher is a major failing of Williamson's imagination. Despite this failing, there is no denying that these factors had some effect (though one wonders whether or how much some sources, say Bioy Casares, are having him on), and the general level of detail in Borges' life, publishing, politics, travels, influence, are indispensible (if cursory at times, occluded by the pet thesis). One of the seemingly unintentionally funniest lines (after delving into supposed solipsistic suicidal tendencies) came in the context of friends predeceasing him: "How long could he survive himself?" (439)

It happens I've bookended these readings with Elio Vittorini (NDP's new translation of Conversations In Sicily admits the failure of its prior one; Twilight of the Elephant was an apposite endpiece [and inversion]), who was the (Italian) conduit through which Borges was recognised and published in Spain. But one point relevant to my prior post is that, at the end of his life, one of his projects was a story based on Dante's devising a sequel to the Commedia, part 4 of 3 ...

The Perónist 'promotion' to poultry inspector was apparently itself a canard, in that someone switched letters from apiculture to aviculture. This, along with Borges' late 'virtuality', which after such Freudian analysis can't help but carry Jungian overtones, suggests reinterpretation of a Cole Porter lyric is in order. So let's do it:

Birds do it [Simurgh/Conference of the Birds]
Bees do it [hive-mind, swarm]
Even educated fleas do it [fleece=>sheepskins, a herd of honorary doctorates]
Let's do it, let's fall in love [that's right, now everybody!]


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