This last week there was one clear night, the full moon peeping between the branches of the oak. And here’s Borges’ take on the moon, dedicated to his secretary and later wife (from Paris Review):
. to María Kodama
There is so much loneliness in that gold.
The moon of every night is not the moon
That the first Adam saw.
Of human wakefulness have left it brimming
With ancient tears. Look at it. It is your mirror.
by Jorge Luis Borges
Issue no. 125 (Winter 1992)—translated from the Spanish by Robert Mezey
One of the pleasures and also the problems of travel to another country is that each simple transaction is slightly mystifying: the language, the currency, the customs. Your habits are left at home with the clothes in your closet, and everything is fresh and surprising.
As one small, graphic example, the electrical apparatus of Buenos Aires is alarmingly slapdash.
Wires hang in clumps along the main boulevards, and in tangles behind the apartment buildings.
It has a certain charm, but also makes one wonder what the next big storm will bring.
In the same way, being in a new environment without the protection of your accustomed routine has a certain liberating effect but can also be profoundly disconcerting. It usually leads to at least one day where everything goes wrong.
We had one of those days when we left Buenos Aires–Larry discovered he had lost his bankcard, I grabbed wrong bag at the airport, and we spent the rest of the day unravelling these problems mostly in Spanish with phone systems that would not cooperate.
But these minor pains were salved by reading Borges’ lecture on his blindness which includes this paragraph, translated eloquently by Eliot Weinberger: Continue reading “Bumpy”
I once heard Jorge Luis Borges lecture. In 1967 or 8 he came to Harvard, and though I only dimly knew who he was, he impressed me with his uncanny presence, unlike anyone I had encountered. But I tried reading his most well-know work, Labyrinths, I never made much progress. Now I think perhaps it was the fault of the translation, as Larry brought a fat book of his nonfiction writing with him, edited by Eliot Weinberger, and I am finding it wonderful.
But as the most illustrious Argentinian writer who lived and worked in Buenos Aires, we have gone to two cafes that claim his frequent presence. Cafe Tortoni has photos and bronze busts, but Cafe Biela, has this ghoulish tableau of Borges and Casares at the entrance.
After that, we decided to eat in the outdoor area under the shade of a huge banyan tree. The park by the cafe was filled with vendors, strolling families, musicians and a vendor ingeniously displaying his feather dusters. Continue reading “Borges and Buenos Aires”