Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Borges Commented Out

Remorse for Any Death 
Free of memory and hope,
unlimited, abstract, almost future,
the dead body is not somebody: It is death.
Like the God of the mystics,
whom they insist has no attributes,
the dead person is no one everywhere,
is nothing but the loss and absence of the world.
We rob it of everything,
we do not leave it one color, one syllable:
Here is the yard which its eyes no longer take up,
there is the sidewalk where it waylaid its hope.
It might even be thinking
what we are thinking.
We have divided among us, like thieves,
the treasure of nights and days.

(Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges, translated by W. S. Merwin)

- "the dead body is not somebody: It is death" - connect this verse with
the title, remorse for any death - remorse for any dead body; previous
metaphysical assumptions leading to this claim: any dead body, like death,
is free of memory and of hope, limitless and beautifully "almost future" (this
"almost future" is hard to grasp, one has to feel what Borges implied, but
let's try to "intellectualize" it for a second - it's "almost future" because it
embodies various changes that project matter into the unknown; is death
"almost future"? - if you think about reincarnation and all its consequences,
it surely is)
- "It might even be thinking, / what we are thinking" - it's not one of my favorite
Borgesian reflections, it sounds like a trifle, a tacky verse that I can't buy;
interestingly enough, Borges juxtaposes two finals (it's a way of seeing
a juxtaposition here, I'm very subjective, usually juxtaposition means
putting together two abstract, usually opposing, ideas) and draws sterile the 
trifle: "We have divided among us, like thieves, / the treasure of nights and 
days" - it might be interpreted also as a conclusion to his overall argument 
that dead bodies are the pure expression, though indirect -superseding an 
impersonal cliché tone, taking charge ("we have divided [...] the treasure of 
nights and days").

(Camil Cardaș)

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