Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges

First published:-1962

Read in:- May, 2014

Star rating:- 

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 of 'there's no one way of looking at the truth'

Indeed. 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 chaos. 

"In 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 another."

I 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 David Foster Wallace acquired his irksome yet awe-inspiring footnoting habit from.

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