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All things are words of some foreign tongue someone or something, on a nightmarish day-and-night shift, translates in an unrelenting dirge we call the history of the world — embracing Carthage, Rome, me, you, all of us, my life, which I don’t get at all, this anxiety of being anomaly, accident, rendition, and all the cheap utterances of Babel. Behind each name is that which has no name: — today, I felt its shadow disturb the native movement of the blue compass needle, whose jurisdiction extends through and beyond distant seas, like an olden pocket-watch seen in a dream, or a bird that is about to wake from its sleep.
There can’t be a single thing which is not cloud.
You are a cloud in a supermarket
looking for something to darken.
The name in store for them is clouds.
They have hardly changed since Shakespearean times,
Though they live longer, and are twice as tall.
Their improvised architecture
Nags God to keep creating.
This morning, for example, I said the word clouds.
I know little to nothing of the Borges, my Portuguese forbears, poltergeists who still ply throughout my body their mysterious habits, disciplines and anxieties—veiled, as if they had never been, and alien to the meticulous processes of art, they form an indecipherable part of this period, this junk, this big galleried emptiness. For the best, really. They remain, despite all your mouthing off, Portugal—that famed people who shocked the Great Wall of the Orient, and fell into the sea, and to that other sea, made of sand. They remain that leader lost on the mystic tombolo, and those at home who swear she is not dead.
You are tenured. Like a river,
or a jingle, or a vaccine,
someone fantasised you into being.
You are made of money!
Throw yourself into a crowd of crying commuters.
In a sense, you are already spent.
Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1899. A poet, short-story writer, essayist, and translator, he is among the most influential and accomplished literary figures of the last century. He is buried in Geneva, where he died in 1986.
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