Archive for the ‘borges’ Category


In borges, critical rationalism on 18/10/2011 at 12:04 pm

I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity. (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols)

Nietzsche, the aphorist par excellence, put the problem most succinctly: constructing a framework is worthwhile only insofar as someone is willing to throw it away. It is the inevitable urge of any intellectual to extend their framework until it touches upon all aspects of life, becoming a world-view that explains all. Most intellectuals believe that the gap between the the world-view and the world can be crossed, and known to have been crossed, if we are diligent and wise; however, the will to a system forgets that a world-view can never be mapped one-to-one to the world.

If one holds on to their world-view, they are committed to its authority; they are a slave to the world-view. If one is willing to give up on their world-view, they are free.



In borges on 25/07/2011 at 3:55 pm

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography. (Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley)


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?


Two Greeks

In borges, the ancient greeks on 15/06/2011 at 4:02 pm

Two Greeks are conversing; perhaps Socrates and Parmenides. It is best that one never learns their names; history will thus be more mysterious and more tranquil.

The subject of their conversation is abstract. At times they allude to myths in which neither believes. …

They do not argue. And they desire neither to persuade nor to be persuaded, they think neither to win nor to lose. …

Free from myth and metaphor, they think or try to think. We shall never know their names. This conversation between two strangers in some unknown place in Greece is the capital event of History. They have forgotten prayer and magic. (Jorge Luis Borges, “The Beginning”)