Saturday, March 06, 2010

Borges’s Lectures

Seven Nights (Revised Edition) (New Directions Paperbook)
Daniel Pritchard reviews Jorge Luis Borges' Seven Nights.
In Seven Nights, the recently re-released collection of lectures-turned-essays originally given in Buenos Aires in 1977, Borges does not discuss the phenomenon of déjà vu. He does, however, speak at great length about nightmares and dreams, which he describes as “a kind of modest personal eternity.” It is a beautiful phrase. With it, Borges could have just as well been describing déjà vu, because in suddenly recalling a scene or event that has not yet happened, the experience is as close to a waking sense of eternity—that discomforting vertigo against a centering prescience—that a person might ever achieve.

Reading the seven pieces collected in Seven Nights was, for me, an intense and prolonged sensation of déjà vu. At each turn, the phrases felt familiar yet new, as if they had been written for me by someone who knew all that I know about Borges.
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