It is so much more complicated than Deja Vu, and yet the sensation certainly lives within the realm of similar experiences. But only Borges* himself managed to relate this experience in a way that I feel addressed it with any sense or value. At least, he artfully articulated the experience, no less than three times in his own written work.
I, myself, have been compelled to explore the concept as ineptly as I was able over 10 years ago, and while I certainly wore my influences in my prose, I know that I was no closer to having nailed down the moment, this experience in any useful way. Perhaps the closest I came was making another appearance on UB Radio Salon, where I read both my own ham-fisted attempts at this concept between the three more elegant efforts by Borges himself.
But an inability to express this experience does not prevent it from happening. As I catch these glimpses of the person I once was, I cannot rationalize how they would react to me without eventually landing on some kind of disappointment. I see the posturing arrogance of the person I was, as seen through a random blog post, an old photograph, or even a simple memory of having done something, and I know that person would never give me the time of day.
I try to live within the musings of my past self, and I find the experience uncomfortable the words don’t fit, and I worry that the person I was is the person I’m be judged for, that his crimes are the ones that I will be left doing the time for. I see all of his nonsense, and wonder how transparent I’ve always been. How just on the edge of bullshit every utterance was. All the grand plans were made up along the way, and I know what folly that youth would soon go through.
Can we ever learn to live with who we used to be?
Will I look back on these words with a grim moment of pain, as I realize how boneheaded I sound, now?
Or will I be a worse person, then?
* * * * * *
* Borges and I (translated from the Spanish) by Jorge Luis Borges
It’s to that other one, to Borges, that things happen. I walk through Buenos Aires and I pause, one could say mechanically, to gaze at a vestibule’s arch and its inner door; of Borges I receive news in the mail and I see his name in a list of professors or in some biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typefaces, etymologies, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; the other shares these preferences, but in a vain kind of way that turns them into an actor’s attributes. It would be an exaggeration to claim that our relationship is hostile; I live, I let myself live so that Borges may write his literature, and this literature justifies me. It poses no great difficulty for me to admit that he has put together some decent passages, yet these passages cannot save me, perhaps because whatsoever is good does not belong to anyone, not even to the other, but to language and tradition. In any case, I am destined to lose all that I am, definitively, and only fleeting moments of myself will be able to live on in the other. Little by little, I continue ceding to him everything, even though I am aware of his perverse tendency to falsify and magnify.
Spinoza understood that all things strive to persevere being; the stone wishes to be eternally a stone and the tiger a tiger. I will endure in Borges, not in myself (if it is that I am someone), but I recognise myself less in his books than in those of many others, or in the well-worn strum of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him by moving on from the mythologies of the slums to games with time and infinity, but those games are now Borges’ and I will have to conceive of other things. Thus my life is a running away and I lose everything and everything is turned over to oblivion, or to the other.
I do not know which of the two is writing this piece.