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Divine Irony

In 1955, Jorge Luis Borges was appointed to his dream job as Director of the National Library in Buenos Aires. This man, who, as far as I can tell, read better and more widely than anyone of whom I can judge, was now custodian to Argentina's store of 900,000 books. He fondly remembered accompanying his father to the National Library as a child and reading at random from the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Borges, as you can easily gather from a short survey of his fiction, viewed heaven as a sort of library that exists in eternity.

The same year, 1955, Borges began to notice that his already bad eyesight had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer read the book titles from the spines as he walked through the stacks. Not dark (he couldn't see the color black, after all), his mind was beset with a blue-green mist. He was going completely blind in one eye and almost blind in the other and in 1955, he came to know it as a fact, at the very moment that he gained perfect access to all those books.

Borges' father and grandfather were also afflicted with blindness, so his odds were always bad. Still, it is a cruel irony. A divine irony, he would later argue, particularly since he could also name two previous Directors of the National Library who were also blind. That is how the universe works.

I wonder. Is paradise ours for the taking, but accompanied by the cruel joke as well? I think maybe, but in the end I have to admit that this is one of those things I wouldn't know much about.





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post #479
bio: blaine
perma-link
5/11/2007
12:51

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