The Wall

In borges on 28/06/2011 at 11:35 pm

Burning books and erecting fortifications are the usual occupations of princes; the only thing unique about Shih Huang Ti was the scale on which he worked. … To enclose an orchard or a garden is common, but not an empire. … The unyielding wall which, at this moment and all moments, casts its system of shadows over lands I shall never see, is the shadow of a Caesar who ordered the most reverent of nations to burn its past. (Jorge Luis Borges, The Wall and the Books, Selected Non-Fictions, 345-6)

A philosopher is Borges’s prince. The philosopher preemptively deflects attacks, keeps criticism at bay, builds walls to protect their pet ideas. Or is that taking the analogy too far? Shih Huang Ti built a wall; don’t we all build walls?


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