Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism by William Rowlandson

By William Rowlandson

Jorge Luis Borges was once profoundly drawn to the ill-defined and shape-shifting traditions of mysticism. even if, prior reviews of Borges haven't involved in the writer's shut curiosity in mysticism and mystical texts, specially within the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). This e-book examines the connection among Borges' personal recorded mystical reviews and his appraisal of Swedenborg and different mystics. It asks the basic query of even 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 corresponding to William James. The ebook locates Borges in the scholarship of mysticism by means of comparing his many assertions and proposals as to what's or isn't a mystic and, in so doing, analyses the effect of James and Ralph Waldo Emerson on Borges' interpreting of Swedenborg and mysticism. the writer argues additional that Swedenborg constitutes a miles richer presence in Borges' paintings than scholarship has hitherto said, and assesses the presence of Swedenborg in Borges' aesthetics, ethics and poetics.

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This, as a scientific rather than a religious theory, is still notably challenging, as it presupposes a conscious dimension to reality. Borges took this matter 26 Introduction seriously whilst never abandoning his sceptical scrutiny. In an interview with Burgin he described a possible synchronistic event and suggested an explanatory conclusion that displays sympathy with the deeper ontological implications of Jung’s theory, whilst maintaining a sceptical, almost cynical, standpoint. So illustrative is the episode of the curious tension in Borges between scepticism and a predisposition to religious experience that it deserves citation in full: Borges: […] I’m on the lookout for symmetries.

He oscillates between disavowal of God, and desire for verification of a divine existence. On the one hand he at times intellectualizes God and seems to be dismissing his existence on rational grounds; on the other, he continuously searches for something bigger than himself or the intellect. […] The tension lies in the balance which Borges struggles to strike between his enquiring intellect and a faith reality. (Flynn 2009: 4–5) In a similar fashion Borges employed logical, reasoned, arguments to disprove the existence of time, arguing that there is no extension to the present, being the mere conjunction of past and future, and thus it cannot be considered as occupying any time.

In addition to favouring the supernatural whilst simultaneously disavowing the supernatural, we find numerous instances in Borges’ essays and interviews in which, like Lönnrot, he seeks the anomalous aspect of human experience before the strictly rational. 18 He cites Bede’s description of how Cædmon was first amongst poets, ‘porque no aprendió de los hombres sino de Dios’ [‘because he did not learn from men, but from God’], and he indicates that ‘esperemos que [Caedmon] volvió a encontrarse con su ángel’ (1974: 643) [‘Let us hope he met his angel again’] (1964: 16).

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