Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jorge Luis Borges' insights into the relationship between 'I' and 'Me'


From Everything And Nothing, a short story about Shakespeare by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986):

“There was no one in him… In London he found the profession to which he was predestined, that of the actor, who on a stage plays at being another before a gathering of people who play at taking him for that other person.”...

“His histrionic talents brought him a singular satisfaction… but once the last verse had been declaimed and the last dead man withdrawn from the stage, the hated flavour of unreality returned to him… Thus hounded, he took to imagining other heroes and other tragic fables… the soul that inhabited him was Caesar, who disregards the augur’s admonition, and Juliet, who abhors the lark, and Macbeth, who converses on the plain with the witches who are also Fates… For twenty years he persisted in that controlled hallucination, but one morning he was suddenly gripped by the tedium and the terror of being so many kings who die by the sword and so many suffering lovers who converge, diverge and melodiously expire. That very day he arranged to sell his theatre. Within a week he had returned to his native village, where he recovered the trees and rivers of his childhood… He had to become someone.”

Later in the story, when Shakespeare meets God, God tells him that indeed he was like Shakespeare, “many and no one.”


From the story ‘Borges and I’:

“The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to… It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me… but I recognise myself less in his books than in many others… I do not know which of us has written this page.”