- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Reality is not always probable, or likely.”

 

Happy birthday, Jorge Luis Borges! Here are some quotes from the writer.

 

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

 

“Before I ever wrote a single line, I knew, in some mysterious and therefore unequivocal way, that I was destined for literature. What I didn’t realize at first is that besides being destined to be a reader, I was also destined to be a writer, and I don’t think one is less important than the other.”

 

“Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.”

 

“Literature is not exhaustible, for the sufficient and simple reason that a single book is not. A book is not an isolated entity: it is a narration, an axis of innumerable narrations. One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read.”

 

“A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.”

 

“In the critic’s vocabulary, the word ‘precursor’ is indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotations of polemic or rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”

 

“Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.”

 

“That history should have imitated history was already sufficiently marvelous; that history should imitate literature is inconceivable….”

 

“I foresee that man will resign himself each day to more atrocious undertakings; soon there will be no one but warriors and brigands; I give them this counsel: The author of an atrocious undertaking ought to imagine that he has already accomplished it, ought to impose upon himself a future as irrevocable as the past.”

 

“A writer—and, I believe, generally all persons—must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

 

“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities that I have visited, all my ancestors.”

 

“As I think of the many myths, there is one that is very harmful, and that is the myth of countries. I mean, why should I think of myself as being an Argentine, and not a Chilean, and not an Uruguayan. I don’t know really. All of those myths that we impose on ourselves—and they make for hatred, for war, for enmity—are very harmful. Well, I suppose in the long run, governments and countries will die out and we’ll be just, well, cosmopolitans.”

 

“Doubt is one of the names of intelligence.”

 

“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.”

 

“Every novel is an ideal plane inserted into the realm of reality.”

 

“Years of solitude had taught him that, in one’s memory, all days tend to be the same, but that there is not a day, not even in jail or in the hospital, which does not bring surprises, which is not a translucent network of minimal surprises.”

 

“Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment—the moment when a man knows forever more who he is.”

 

“The original is unfaithful to the translation.”

 

“Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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