Borges has long been my favorite author. He is a true puzzle maker, the riddler of riddlers, the enigmatist of enigmas. Recently, I narrated a translation of his famous short story, Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, you can listen to it by clicking the video above. I recommend doing something away from the computer while listening; it is a thirty-nine minute short story and lends itself to preoccupation, like sewing, sweeping, doodling, or perhaps paying small bills. Also, it would be quite amenable to an upright meditation. One has to want to jump into this world, to receive its fruits.
Initially an essayist and poet, Borges turned to fiction later in life and it was fiction, fused with the realm of fact, that would prove to be his trademark signature upon the world. A story by Borges is not dissimilar to a matroyshka doll, every time you think you have opened it up, and gotten to the bottom of it, there is a smaller more finite and precise reality beneath that.
If you have never heard of Jorge Luis Borges, it is presumable, that the word 'bibliophile' is also not in your vocabulary, (no offense) but JLB may have been the most well read Librarian since some unknown bibliognost that haunted the isles of The Library of Alexandria. Check out this wonderful homage to Borges on Vimeo, or read one of his last interviews with The Paris Review.
The video at the top of the post by Borges, entitled, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, contains the occasional sound of the passing of automobiles. I like to imagine that they are the sounds of a bustling Buenos Aries, just outside Borges' apartment window, on a temperate afternoon, where he reads aloud his most recently completed work to a group of intelligentsia in some mid 20th century Argentina, caught in amber.
It appears, or at least according to my limited research it appears, that this is the first narration of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius in English. I did find a version in Spanish.
I must confess, due to the author's scrupulous preservation of detail, that in the ante-penultimate paragraph of the story, I pronounced the homonym 'minute' as if it were in reference to time, when in fact in was meant to be pronounced in relation to size. A simple yet ghastly oversight.
Borges also performed a series of Lectures on Poetry at Harvard University, in the late 1960's. These are a must listen for any serious poet. Borges cites mostly from memory, and having lost his sight, he seemed to gain an uncanny sense of recall, something that was echoed in his short story, Funes, The Memorious.
In the spirit of the last paragraph before the postscript (which was intended to be anachronistic, set seven years into the then future), which reads:
I conclude that in remembering and narrating this story, I hope, in some small way, to preserve the architecture of one of the greatest literary cartographers to ever grace a pen.
Oh, and according to The New York Times, he may have invented the internet.