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This article is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

Poetry Jorge Luis Borges

The Irish pantheist Scotus Erigena said that the Holy Scripture contains an infinite number of meanings, and he compared it to the iridescent feathers of a peacock's tail. Centuries later, a Spanish Kabbalist said that God wrote the Scriptures for each one of the men of Israel, that there are as many Bibles as there are readers of the Bible. This is believable if we consider that the author of the Bible and the author of the destiny of each one of its readers is the same. One may think of these two sentences merely as demonstrations of the Celtic imagination and of the Oriental imagination. But I would venture to say that they are both absolutely correct, not only in regard to the Scriptures but to any book worth rereading.

Emerson said that a library is a magic chamber in which there are many enchanted spirits. They wake when we call them. When the book lies unopened, it is literally, geometrically, a volume, a thing among things. When we open it, when the book surrenders itself to its reader, the aesthetic event occurs. And even for the same reader the same book changes, for we change; we are the river of Heraclitus, who said that the man of yesterday is not the man of today, who will not be the man of tomorrow. We change incessantly, and each reading of a book, each rereading, each memory of that rereading, reinvents the text. The text too is ...


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