Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life Is Poetic OR Data Recovery And Borges

So, through my own negligence and simply four years of use, my laptop crashed. It wouldn't turn on and when I heard a clak clak claking sound inside the case, I assumed the hard drive had finally had enough of my sophistic bullshit and died honorably.

This computer contained the scattered notes, the half finished drafts, the almost finished drafts, the conversations, the things I thought might conceivably be important for posterity or to take a look back at how I acted back in the day for seven years on. It contained songs, it contained books, .pdfs and whatever else i thought would be cool.

It would suck to lose those things, right? Thus, I went to tech support. (It got fixed, so don't worry about me.)

And it took me about a week or so to get to tech support because my life at the time was a little bit nuts and things had to get done and sleep had to be had and so on. I was slugging my way through Borges' Labyrinths at the time. Labyrinths is set up in three different parts, the largest part, which comprises two thirds of the book, are his incredible fictions, the second part, roughly two thirds of the remainder, is Borges' non-fiction work, and the final part is Borges' parables.

It's Borges' themes that concern us at the moment.

These themes tend to be knowledge imperfectly remembered, knowledge glimpsed once, knowledge forgotten, unnoticed knowledge that sinks into ordinary life or knowledge unrecognized.

I sit, on a train, re-reading the last piece of "A New Refutation of Time" for the fourth time, before I turn the page, trying to make sense of it and the thought pops into my head: Do I want the flotsam of my life back?

Aside from the one interview that wasn't quite transcribed and the current projects, do I really need and would my life be made more profitable by having access to those memories again?

I don't have an answer, but as the train approached the station, I leaned into the sliding door. I also leaned towards no. There would be things I'd miss. Doubtless. But all that evidence of my failures, the remains of the deceptions I was a party to, the bad writing and the record all of my cowardice felt like another extra 40 pounds on my body.

When I thought "I hope it is all lost" it felt insincere, I felt like I was lying to myself as I walking out of the underground. Or maybe the feeling was that I…wasn't strong enough to actually be okay with it. Something Borges wrote armored me, though. There was an essay on Cervantes, in which Borges compared Cervantes to other others, Joseph Conrad and Henry James and what they put in their stories. Borges said the following, which struck me when I first read it: "Conrad and Henry James wrote novels of reality because they judged reality to be poetic."

Walking up the stairs to have my computer to be judged, I know that they're right. Perhaps I could have been reading Phillip K. Dick and that might be slightly more appropriate, but at the time, I was just coming out of a tangle of underground tunnels and platforms, through an visible but unseen maze of human ingenuity and creation. Or as Borges would put it, "[A] labyrinth designed by men and destined to be deciphered by men." This is precisely who I should be reading at that moment.

Those feelings of hardly communicable poetry and discovery of possible connections between the planes of fiction and reality held me. A post-facto moment of glory or madness or presumption: Is this how Borges saw the world?

There were a few parables left in the book. So, after checking in, I sat down on a bench inside and read. I completed the book. I won't say finished because finished is definitive and I get the feeling I ain't never done with Borges. I might set down Labyrinths, but I've got his complete fictions on that same bookshelf and it's many, many pages larger.

I read the last parable and waited.

Eventually, I had to read the same stories again. The ending to "The House of Asterion" gave me an idea, one that I don't have the talent to do all myself, but I have the tools at my fingertips. My mind flared up with two ideas. I see something, but I don't think I can do it. I heard my name called and the cherubic, clean shaven, polite tech support guy gave me the good news: The problem was all in the software, it could be fixed all for free!

Everything could be backed up and I should do that, he says, because your information is important, right?

Oh, of course.

I navigated the maze of public transportation back to my apartment with a spring in my step.

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