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Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote
- Mernard rewrote Don Quixote- same words, but they are different b/c the world we live in now is different than the world it was originally written in- different perspective
- If Don Quixote was written today it would be infinitely great
- Did not want to make a contemporary Quixote, b/c that would be easy- wanted THE quixote
- Much richer than original b/c he experienced all events since 1602
- 1st- 15th c
- 2nd- 20th c
- = so since the first one was written, there was WWI, perspective changes in history
- Borges mention s changes- Mernard was more subtle than Cervantes
- In 16th century could be mother of truth- was unraveling God's design
- Says history is not truth b/c history is written by winners
- But which is the truth? Which understanding is correct?
- To be a Catholic in the 20th c is totally different from today
- Mernard burned all rough drafts
The Circular Ruins
Man realizes he is just a creation of someone else's dream, like the boy he created= like idea of religion, we are created by something else
- What is real?
- Dreams- Freud- psychological reality that we wish was physical reality- this comes from our unconscious
- = think of Pan's Labyrinth- it does not matter if it is true reality if it helps her escape, cope
- Makes one think- is there an objective reality?- we always superimpose our own ideas, can be no sensation w/o perception, and perception never objective
- Protagonist has a God complex- actually some relief when he realizes he is in a dream- not so much resp. (no one wants to be pope
- Possible commentary on the writer as the creator- God of Fire is inspiration that allows him to create
The Babylon Lottery
- The story describes a mythical Babylon in which all activities are dictated by an all-encompassing lottery, a metaphorfor the role of chance in one's life. Initially, the lottery was run as a lottery would be, with
- tickets purchased and the winner receiving a monetary reward. Later, punishments and larger monetary rewards were introduced. Further, participation became mandatory for all but the elite. Finally, it simultaneously became so all-encompassing and so secret some whispered "the Company has never existed, and never will."
- Is life a game of chance?
- Governed by the choices of others
- "The Company"- shapes the choices
- = divine figure, source of blame, like people blame God
- Metaphysical- is there afterlife, the divine?- borges deals with these larger issues
Not really a narrative, but a description
- Borges' day job was a librarian- familiar w/ subject matter
- All books are same, some coherent words scattered throughout- librarians become depressed, legends develop
- When you die, you are thrown of the ledge- not bottom, just keep deterioirating forever
- INFINITE world- very important to look at now w/ the internet
- = Librarians search to find their own meaning of life- like we do on the internet
- Infinite combinations, but one of them is right- Great ideas are random, like valuable features in a Darwinian world
The Garden of the Forking Paths
- = ancestor compared to newton
- Like string theory- All of earth is made of vibrating strings, specualtion that there are alternative universes
- Labyrinth is not real- it is a symbolic one of time
- The book of the ancestor is infinite- looks over every possible combination of events, each combinations sets up another....
- William James- every moment is like a forking path on a mountain; one way is disastrous, one is amazing; we dopn't know which is which, but we know if we stay still, we will freeze to death
The Form of the Sword
- War of Irish Independence, tells the story of Vincent Moon- gets an artifical wound, and turns in another solider when times get tough- turns out the speaker is Vincent Moon
- He is highly ashamed about what he did, but does that make a difference?
- =he has to tell the story from another's perspective, he is so ashamed, but at least he is showing he has some moral code ?
- B/c Borges' work is a literary geography, it pulls from many philosophical areas and can be analyzed from many perspectives
- - Existential- being proceeds essence- would say Vincent Moon does not have moral code b/c of his actions
- -Nietzsche says moral code based on convention, questions why we put such a value on it anyway
- Moon is very self-critical- tell in third person so he could be even more critical?
- Says "What one man does is reflected in every man"- can't hate the person but the trait, what one man does all men do
- = what one man does reflects badly on all men; but in the same vein, the crucifiction of one Jew can save them all; all men can do things both good and evil
- Moon confesses to a stranger- easier, did not know them in the past, maybe they can now be something different, like why the killer confesses to a stranger in crimes and misdemenors
The Secret Miracle
- A man Jeromier is ordered to be executed, but he wants to finish his play The Enemy- so he prays to God to have a year, and he ends up having a year in a moment
- Time is malleable, subjective
- - Immanueal Kant
- - Scopes trial- how long is a year to God?- could evolution happen?
- Time is relative, subjective- we think we can measure and define it, but we can't (said he dies at exactly 9:02)
- - dali, the persistence of memory
- No part of reality is really absolute
- Idealism- says reality is only in our minds, we really think we can change others with
- our behavior
- Unreality is the neccesary condition of art
Three Versions of Judas
- Looks at classic story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas in a totally new way
- Written by Runeberg- mark of mysterious signifigance + city= borges liked to play with words
- The three versions:
- In the first version of Kristus och Judas, Runeberg says that it was Judas who was the reflection of Jesus in the human world, and as Jesus was our saviour sent from heavens, Judas took up the onus of being the human who led Jesus down the path of redemption.
- Amid extreme criticism in the story, Runeberg is forced to rewrite his book. In the second revision of Kristus och Judas, Nils changes his arguments and claims that Judas sacrificed the most. In Borges' own words, "The ascetic, for the greater glory of God, degrades and mortifies the flesh; Judas did the same with the spirit. He renounced honour, good, peace, the Kingdom of Heaven, as others, less heroically, renounced pleasure [ . . . ] He thought that happiness, like good, is a divine attribute and not to be usurped by men."
- In his final book Den hemlige Frälsaren, Runeberg comes up with the argument that as God in human shape would be "made totally man, but man to the point of iniquity". Committing a sin would also not be beyond Him. More importantly, Runeberg states that a sacrifice limited to only one afternoon on the cross does not compare with the sacrifice of accepting shame and revulsion for the rest of history. Thereby, Runeberg concludes finally that He chose Judas as his incarnation. "God became a man completely, a man to the point of infamy, a man to the point of being reprehensible - all the way to the abyss. In order to save us, He could have chosen any of the destinies which together weave the uncertain web of history; He could have been Alexander, or Pythagoras, or Rurik, or Jesus; He chose an infamous destiny: He was Judas."
- Runeberg says that Judas betraying Jesus was part of God's plan, b/c w/o him the Christian world would not have moved foward
- Judas is a scapegoat- we all killed Jesus b/c none of us tried to save him
- Judas created our salvation
- According to Runeberg, Jesus sacrificed his life but Judas sacrificed his soul
- = greater sacrifice- God's plan, knew it would help man
- But we need comparison w/ Judas to make Jesus sacrifice seem greater
- Sometimes you have to do something wrong to do something right- different layers of morality (preconventional, conventional, postconventional; Heinz test- when is stealing ok?)
Model of Christian Charity
- Speech Winthrop gave to his fellow Puritans aboard the Arabella on the way to the Massachusetts Bay Colony
- Winthrop would become the governor of the colony, and he gave this sopeech to teach the people how to live together in a peaceful, Christian, loving way
- Emphasized community over all else
- Justified inequality in 3 ways:
- 1. God wants us to show His variety, different people show love to God in different ways
- 2. Wants to prove his power, if everyone was rich we would not need God
- 3. Ineqaulity makes us complete each other= COMMUNITY
- Only way to avoid God's wrath is to knit together in "brotherly affection"
- - Justice and mercy emphasized
- - give away what we have in excess to those who have nothing; overcharging was a huge sin
The nature of liberty
- The issue he is dealing with ios Social liberty- the nature and limits of power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual
- Liberty was initially created to protect people from the tyrants- but now we have eliminated most tyrants, what we fear now is the tyranny of the majority, b/c now all people feel they should be involved in gov't (democracy)- more dangerous than single tyrant; if society is the majority, there is no one to stop it
- Custom enforces this tyranny of the majority- "despotism of custom"- we can get around it by allowing custom to shape but not define our actions; we do this through thinking and our new indiviudal liberty- making conscious decesions about our actions.
- Need to create new fundamental laws to redefine liberty for the new era- go against the "despotism of custom"- allow custom to shape but not define our actions, make conscious choices
- Therefore justified the power of the individual over unlimited state control- individuals are rational enough, gov't should only interfere to protect society
- - types of morality, heinz test- when is it ok to steal?
- Mill, opposite of Winthrop, favored the individual over the community; Mill saw it as an oppurtunity, Winthrop as a great threat
- As long as the individual was not directly causing harm to anyone else, he should be free to do as he wished (physical or leading to being physical)
- Use individual strengths to bring the entire community foward; one person going against the community can change the world for the better (MLK, Gandhi, Steve Jobs)
- W/o individuality, we would render mediocracy the ascendent power among mankind
- Diversity is a valuable tool allowing man to recognize all sides of the truth. Being run by one’s own character is also “one of the principal ingredients in human happiness, and quite the chief ingredient in individual and social progress”. People need to be able to learn from their experiences and explore possibilities; if they become more valuable to themselves, they are more valuable to others
- This idea come from the 10th of the Federalist papers, a series of papers written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay to try to get the Americans to be in favor of the constituion.
- Did so by presenting the danger of factions that only a democratic gov't/federal gov't with checks and balances could cure.
- Faction=any group of people who share a common impulse and work toward it
- - Like NRA, Planned Parenthood- today gain support through bribes, taking people out to lunches
- - Unavoidable
- -Caused by liberty and property (individualism creates differences, causes people to band w/ like people- like the category of the other
- The only way to get rid of factions then is to abolish liberty, make everyone the same- but in this case, the remedy is worse than the diseases
- Therefore we cannot stop factions, but we can control them
- -in a democratic republic no one group can rise up
- -In a checks-and-balances gov't the different levels control the issues from becoming too big
Negative and Positive Liberty
- There are two types of liberty- negative and positive liberty; freedom is a weak term on its own and undefined, needs to be divided and analyzed to become stronger
- Positive- take control of your life, self-actualization
- Negative Liberty- more passive, lack of barriers in life, choices, usually defiend by culture
- **Need negative liberty to have positive liberty, or your aims will be frustrated, like Sita in Fire- tried to use positive liberty to go against custom and be with a woman but basically ultimately squashed by negative liberty, only way they could work around it was to change their culture (change negative liberty) or move cultures (go to new world where negative ,liberty is different)
- But each indvl freedom not always good for everyone- Freedom to the pike is death to the minnow
- People may choose to give up liberty to obtain other objectives, like security (Freud and civilization & discontents; locke's social compact- give up some liberty to ensure protection from liberties of others).
Simon de Beauvoir- concept of otherness
- In her essay of feminism, said that otherness is a fundamental category of human thought, has existed since primitive times; was not originally applied to man-woman, but became that
- Other not in terms of indvl- everyone else is other, but groups- black white, men women
- Is it taught or inate? (you have to be carefully taught)
- - placing things into categories inate, but judging them not.
- We tend to see world in terms of opposites, describe things by what they are not
- Tend to project what we don't like about ourselves onto the other- like men calling women too emotional b/c they don't want to be seen as emotional b/c it is a threat to their masculinity
- In terms of man- he is the Subject, He is the Absolute- she is the other. We think this way b/c we are wired & conditioned
- In others cases of Others, such as nations, tribes, classes, people realize the reciporcity; b/c certain classes will not always exist, but women always do, therefore it has to be ingrained?
No name woman
- Aunt of the author, sister of father, never named b/c it was supposed to be like she didn't even exist
- She was impregnated obviously out of wedlock; b.c of the difficult economic times, all the men were sent to the US to work, were hastily married to ensure they would come back, where aunt's husband was
- When the village discovered, they destroyed the house, aunt killed herself
- Her situation shows that culture is changeable based on time and place- very episodic, author said it would not have happened if village was not desperate, in poverty, mad at any person not doing their part
- But also comment on feminity- duty to their culture, their husband, expected to stay loyal after years
- Real punishment was not the raid, but the family swiftly forgetting her- suffer forever, even in death- very strong ideas of duty of woman
- May have even been raped, but that doesnt change her situation