Tuesday, January 19, 2010

i want an old argeniteniniananan man to nibble on the corners

All his life, Borges dreamed of petting the fur of a real tiger. At the age of 84, two years before his death, his dream became a reality. Maybe it was in that moment that the "inconceivable universe" that he so often explored in his writings came together. No one knows for sure what the tiger was thinking.

So I've decided to blog about my adventures abroad (mostly to keep friends and family updated). I'm leaving in a few days for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I'll be attending the Universidad de Belgrano and living with a host family. Other than that, I don't really know what to expect. Of course I'm excited and nervous, but mostly I'm just looking forward to the whole experience. I've heard a few things about the city from various people who have been or known people to have been: Brandon Wilner told me about this sweet bookstore called Cobra that I can't wait to check out. And Paulina said that the shopping was unbelievable and I can find all kinds of leather products (boots? hopefully!). And Jordan's roommate Eliot described the youth culture as somewhat vain (always looking in mirrors) and fashionable and nervous (apparently people in Buenos Aires see therapists more than New Yorkers!). And my brother's friend Jace went there on his honeymoon and ate lots of beef and thrifted. In cities everyone experiences something different and vitalizing, and indescribably life-changing. Corny, but out of all the cities I've been to, each one has its own intricacies, connectivity, and endless flow of life. Since everyone else is in school, I've been sitting around my parents' house in Rock Hill, alone, carless, broke, and restless. I find myself dreaming of cities, of Borges, of labyrinths and gardens, and cafes and streets and memory. In my imagination, the libraries and language and ruins render the city an abstraction rather than an actuality. I suppose I'm caught up in a Borgesian fantasy. I'm chasing after the proverbial third tiger, an "ancient, perverse adventure, foolish and vague;" the quest for absolute physicality and sensuality that Borges sought it in symbols and shadows and literary images. I suppose I ought to set out on my own adventure across the landscape of Borges' dreams, and find my own.

And David, I'll find your old man, and together we'll drink mate and nibble the corners.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Selection from The Other Tiger, Borges, 1960

We'll hunt for a third tiger now, but like
The others this one too will be a form
Of what I dream, a structure of words, and not
The flesh and one tiger that beyond all myths
Paces the earth. I know these things quite well,
Yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me
In this vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest,
And I go on pursuing through the hours
Another tiger, the beast not found in verse.