By William Rowlandson
Jorge Luis Borges was once profoundly attracted to the ill-defined and shape-shifting traditions of mysticism. even if, earlier reports of Borges haven't keen on the writer's shut curiosity in mysticism and mystical texts, particularly within the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). This publication examines the connection among Borges' personal recorded mystical reviews and his appraisal of Swedenborg and different mystics. It asks the basic query of no matter if Borges was once a mystic via analysing his writings, together with brief tales, essays, poems and interviews, along scholarly writings on mysticism by means of figures similar to William James. The ebook locates Borges in the scholarship of mysticism through comparing his many assertions and recommendations as to what's or isn't really a mystic and, in so doing, analyses the effect of James and Ralph Waldo Emerson on Borges' examining of Swedenborg and mysticism. the writer argues extra that Swedenborg constitutes a much richer presence in Borges' paintings than scholarship has hitherto stated, and assesses the presence of Swedenborg in Borges' aesthetics, ethics and poetics.
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Additional info for Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism
I would argue that the ‘participatory turn’ discussed by Ferrer is present in two fundamental levels in Borges: firstly, through a broad reading of his many tales, poems, essays and interviews, it becomes clear that despite his Introduction 43 oft-proclaimed radical scepticism and his mistrust of faith and religious doctrine, as a reader he himself was deeply af fected and transformed by the mystical and religious texts that he read. Secondly, it becomes clear that many of Borges’ texts themselves may be considered deeply transformative texts if the reader is open to such qualities in the works.
All other memories of travels, people and my surroundings have paled beside these interior happenings. ( Jung 1989: 4–5) Were Borges to have produced the equivalent of Jung’s memoirs (beyond the ‘Autobiographical essay’) it is highly likely that his recollections would likewise have concentrated on the more ‘timeless’ aspects of his life experiences, and not on the more mundane. I would argue, indeed, that the many interviews of the 1970s and 1980s themselves constitute his oral autobiography, and that his dialogues with Burgin, Barnstone, Enguídanos, di Giovanni, Barili and others inevitably encircle the deep wells of timeless moments – poetry, dreams, literature, symbols – rather than his encounters with political and cultural figures.
1964: 16, emphasis mine) The implications of Borges’ comments are striking. He would reject a priori the supernatural, and yet the explanation of the repeated vision of Kubla Khan he most favours is one of the transmigration of souls. This appears contradictory, not least when we correlate this assertion with Borges’ other Introduction 33 speculation on transmigration. Reason cannot accommodate the possibility of transmigration of the soul, he suggests in the lecture ‘Inmortalidad’ (2005: 185–94), as it is inherently unreasonable for the soul to remember who it has been in previous incarnations.
Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism by William Rowlandson