By Jorge Luis Borges
A assortment drawn from Jorge Luis Borges' lectures.
The incomparable Borges introduced those seven lectures in Buenos Aires in 1977; attendees have been taken care of to Borges’ erudition at the following themes: Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Nightmares, Thousand and One Dreams, Buddhism, Poetry, The Kabbalah, and Blindness.
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They believe that to arrive at this moment an infinite time has already passed. In saying infinite I do not mean indefinite, innumerable―I mean strictly infinite. Among the six fates that are permitted for men―one can be a demon, a plant, an animal―the most difficult is to be a man, and we must make use of it in order to save ourselves. The Buddha imagined that at the bottom of the sea is a tortoise and a floating bangle. Every six hundred years the tortoise sticks its head out. It would be extraordinary if it put its head through the bangle.
The poem by Wordsworth. The Bedouin tells him that he must save these two things, the stone and the shell, both of them books. He turns around, and there is a moment in which Wordsworth sees that the face of the Bedouin has changed, that it is full of horror. He too turns around, and he sees a great light, a light that has now flooded the middle of the desert. It is the waters of the flood that will destroy the earth. The Bedouin goes off, and Wordsworth sees that the Bedouin is also Don Quixote and that the camel is also Rosinante and that, in the same way that the stone was a book and the shell a book, so the Bedouin is Don Quixote and is neither of the two and is both at once.
Although one need not believe it, the legend of the Buddha is illuminating. It begins in the heavens. In the heavens there is someone who for centuries and centuries―we may literally say for an infinite number of centuries―has been perfecting himself toward understanding, and who, in his next incarnation, will be the Buddha. He chooses the continent in which he will be born. According to Buddhist cosmogony, the world is divided into four triangular continents and in the center is a mountain of gold, Mt.