Outward Bound Ideas

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

111. From: Twenty Four Converstaions With Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Nicomedes Suãrez Araúz, Willis Barnstone, and Noemí Escandell

"Certain sundowns, certain dawns, some weathered faces are at the point of revealing something to us, and this imminence of a revelation which is not fulfilled is, for me the aesthetic act."

"I still believe that poetry is the aesthetic act; that poetry is not the poem, for the poem may be nothing more than a series of symbols. Poetry, I believe, is the poetic act that takes place when the poet writes it, when the reader reads it, and it always happens in a slightly different manner. When the poetic act takes place, it seems to me that we become aware of it. Poetry is a magical, mysterious, unexplainable––although no incomprehensible––event. If one doesn't feel the poetic event upon reading it, the poet has failed."

"When I write something, I have the feeling that it already exists. I depart from a general concept. I foresee more or less clearly the beginning and the end, and then I proceed to discover the intermediate pieces; but I don't have the feeling that I am inventing them; I don't feel that they depend on my judgment. I believe the same happens when we read a good poem; we believe that we could also have written that poem, that preexisted within us."

"Beauty is pursuing us everywhere. If we were sensitive enough, we would feel it in the poetry of all languages. There's nothing strange about so much beauty scattered about the world. My teacher, the Spanish-Jewish poet, Rafael Cansinos-Asséns wrote a prayer to God that said: "Oh Lord, let there not be so much beauty!" And I remember that Browning wrote:
"Just when we're safest, there's a sunset touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, someone's death,
A chorus ending from Euripides, ––
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears
As old and new at once as nature's self,
To rap and knock and enter in our soul."

A selection from the preface to In Praise of Darkness by Jorge Luis Borges
(Elogio de la Sombra)
Translated from the Spanish by ?

"I do not possess an aesthetic. Time has taught me a few devices: avoid synonyms, which have the disadvantage of implying imaginary differences; avoid Hispanisms, Argentisms, archaic usage, and neologisms; to choose ordinary rather than surprising words; to take care to weave the circumstantial details into a story that readers now insist on; to intrude slight uncertainties, since reality is precise and memory is not; to narrate events as if I did not entirely understand them (I got this from Kipling and Icelandic sagas)."

"Keep in mind that the aforementioned rules are not obligatory and that time will take care of them anyway. Such habitual tricks hardly constitute an aesthetic theory. Moreover, I don't believe in aesthetic theories. In general, they are little more than useless abstractions; they vary with each writer and each text, and can be no more than occasional stimulants or instruments."