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Labyrinths:  Selected Stories and Other Writings Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges
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“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Whatever one man does, it is as if all men did it. For that reason, it is not unfair that one disobedience in a garden should contaminate all humanity; for that reason it is not unjust that the crucifixion of a single Jew should be sufficient to save it.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Then I reflect that all things happen, happen to one, precisely now. Century follows century, and things happen only in the present. There are countless men in the air, on land and at sea, and all that really happens happens to me.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“There is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“My taste runs to hourglasses, maps, seventeenth-century typefaces, etymologies, the taste of coffee, and the prose of Robert Louis Stevenson.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“There is no pleasure more complex than that of thought and we surrendered ourselves to it.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to negate time; it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality other than as a present hope, that the past has no reality other than as a present memory. Another school declares that all time has already transpired and that our life is only the crepuscular and no doubt falsified an mutilated memory or reflection of an irrecoverable process. Another, that the history of the universe — and in it our lives and the most tenuous detail of our lives — is the scripture produced by a subordinate god in order to communicate with a demon. Another, that the universe is comparable to those cryptographs in which not all the symbols are valid and that only what happens every three hundred nights is true. Another, that while we sleep here, we are awake elsewhere and that in this way every man is two men.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“They seek neither truth nor likelihood; they seek astonishment. They think metaphysics is a branch of the literature of fantasy”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate. I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. 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. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things. Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone, and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.

I do not know which of us has written this page.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“I know what the Greeks do not know, incertitude.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“He had no document but his memory; the training he had acquired with each added hexameter gave him a discipline unsuspected by those who set down and forget temporary, incomplete paragraphs. He was not working for posterity or even for God, whose literary tastes were unknown to him. Meticulously, motionlessly, secretly, he wrought in time his lofty, invisible labyrinth. He worked the third act over twice. He eliminated certain symbols as over-obvious, such as the repeated striking of the clock, the music. Nothing hurried him. He omitted, he condensed, he amplified. In certain instances he came back to the original version. He came to feel affection for the courtyard, the barracks; one of the faces before him modified his conception of Roemerstadt's character. He discovered that the wearying cacophonies that bothered Flaubert so much are mere visual superstitions, weakness and limitation of the written word, not the spoken...He concluded his drama. He had only the problem of a single phrase. He found it. The drop of water slid down his cheek. He opened his mouth in a maddened cry, moved his face, dropped under the quadruple blast.”
Jorge Luís Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“This much is already known: for every sensible line of straightforward statement, there are leagues of senseless cacophonies, verbal jumbles and incoherences. (I know of an uncouth region whose librarians repudiate the vain and superstitious custom of finding a meaning in books and equate it with that of finding a meaning in dreams or in the chaotic lines of one's palm . . . They admit that the inventors of this writing imitated the twenty-five natural symbols, but maintain that this application is accidental and that the books signify nothing in themselves. This dictum, we shall see, is not entirely fallacious.)”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“He told me that in 1886 he had invented an original system of numbering and that in a very few days he had gone beyond the twenty-four-thousand mark. He had not written it down, since anything he thought of once would never be lost to him. His first stimulus was, I think, his discomfort at the fact that the famous thirty-three gauchos of Uruguayan history should require two signs and two words, in place of a single word and a single sign. He then applied this absurd principle to the other numbers. In place of seven thousand thirteen he would say (for example) Maximo Pérez; in place of seven thousand fourteen, The Railroad; other numbers were Luis Melián Lafinur, Olimar, sulphur, the reins, the whale, the gas, the caldron, Napoleon, Agustin de Vedia. In place of five hundred, he would say nine. Each word had a particular sign, a kind of mark; the last in the series were very complicated...”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Tennyson said that if we could understand a single flower we would know who we are and what the world is. Perhaps he meant that there is no deed, however so humble, which does not implicate universal history and the infinite concatenation of causes and effects. Perhaps he meant that the visible world is implicit, in its entirety, in each manifestation, just as, in the same way, will, according to Schopenhauer, is implicit, in its entirety, in each individual.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Before unearthing this letter, I had questioned myself about the ways in which a book can be infinite. I could think of nothing other than a cyclic volume, a circular one. A book whose last page was identical with the first, a book which had the possibility of continuing indefinitely.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“At first cautiously, later indifferently, at last desperately, I wandered up the stairs and along the pavement of the inextricable palace. (Afterwards I learned that the width and height of the steps were not constant, a fact which made me understand the singular fatigue they produced). 'This palace is a fabrication of the gods,' I thought at the beginning. I explored the uninhabited interiors and corrected myself: ' The gods who built it have died.' I noted its peculiarities and said: 'The gods who built it were mad.' I said it, I know, with an incomprehensible reprobation which was almost remorse, with more intellectual horror than palpable fear...
...'This City' (I thought) 'is so horrible that its mere existence and perdurance, though in the midst of a secret desert, contaminates the past and the future and in some way even jeopardizes the stars.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“I cannot lament the loss of a love or a friendship without meditating that one loses only what one really never had.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
tags: loss
“Every novel is an ideal plane inserted into the realm of reality.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Gradually, the concrete enigma I labored at disturbed me less than the generic enigma of a sentence written by a god. What type of sentence (I asked myself) will an absolute mind construct? I considered that even in the human languages there is no proposition that does not imply the entire universe: to say "the tiger" is to say the tigers that begot it, the deer and turtles devoured by it, the grass on which the deer fed, the earth that was mother to the grass, the heaven that gave birth to the earth. I considered that in the language of a god every word would enunciate that infinite concatenation of facts, and not in an implicit but in an explicit manner, and not progressively but instantaneously. In time, the notion of a divine sentence seemed puerile or blasphemous. A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“This has happened and will happen again,' said Euphorbus. 'You are not lighting a pyre, you are lighting a labyrinth of flames. If all the fires I have seen were gathered together here, they would not fit on earth and the angels would be blinded. I have said this many times.' Then he cried out, because the flames had reached him.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“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.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“If honor and wisdom and happiness are not for me, let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let Your enormous Library be justified.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“I do not know which of us has written this page.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“And why wander in these labyrinths? Once more, for aesthetic reasons; because this present infinity, these "vertiginous symmetries," have their tragic beauty. The form is more important than the content.”
André Maurois, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Historical truth, for him, is not what has happened; it is what we judge to have happened.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
“Words, displaced and mutilated words, words of others, were the poor pittance left him by the hours and the centuries.”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

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