Surrealpolitik: Fictions

Author: Jorge Luis Borges

London: Penguin Classics (2000, first published in 1998)

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A collection of ridiculously good short stories by a ridiculously good writer.


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There are no nouns in the conjectural Ursprache of Tlön, from which its "present-day" languages and dialects derive: there are impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffixes (or prefixes) functioning as adverbs. For example, there is no noun that corresponds to our word "moon," but there is a verb which in English would be "too moonate" or "to enmoon." "The moon rose above the river" is "hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö," or, as Xul Solar succinctly translates: Upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned. (page 13)

[From chapter: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius]
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Nouns are formed by stringing together adjectives. One does not say "moon"; one says "aerial-bright above dark-round" or "soft-amberish-celestial" or any other string. In this case, the complex of adjectives corresponds to a real object, but that is purely fortuitous. The literature of the northern filled with ideal objects, called forth and dissolved in an instant, as the poetry requires. Sometimes mere simultaneity creates them. There are things composed of two terms, one visual and the other auditory: the color of the rising sun and the distant caw of a bird. There are things composed of many: the sun and water against the swimmer's breast, the vague shimmering pink one sees when one's eyes are closed, the sensation of being swept along by a river and also by Morpheus. These objects of the second degree may be combined with others; the process, using certain abbreviations, is virtually infinite. There are famous poems composed of a single enormous word; this word is a "poetic object" created by the poet. The fact that no one believes in the reality expressed by these nouns means, paradoxically, that there is no limit to their number. (page 13-14)
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