Friday, May 13, 2011

Borges, Finally!

Borges' work is delicious, a composite of fragmented dreams, a bold assertion of possible realities, a verdict on human nature, a portmanteau of diverging theories--and often, completely up to interpretation. My burning question is this: Which is better, to understand Borges through strictly one's own lens of interpretation, or to go to other authorities and editorials in one's quest to understand Borges?

I'll give you an example. I've recently been assigned to study the blog of one of Dr. Burton's former students, Chris (last name withheld), who also chose to study Borges' work. One of the first posts I read contained the summation of Chris' ideas about how Borges connects to the digital age. In essence, Chris argues that Borges' stories, which are full of ambiguities and loose ends, are analogous to our current world "story" because the digital age is also an unfinished story, a current ambiguity. How the "story" of Web 2.0 and mass digitization turns out is up to our interpretation. In essence, we are in the middle of our own Borges story as a collective culture.

Do I like Chris' interpretation of Borges? Yes, very much! As I read his concluding comments, I found myself thinking, "Wow, what insight! I don't think I could have come up with that!" But I am also worried: From now on, when I read Borges, will I be thinking, "Oh, this relates to the digital age in this way that Chris outlined..." or will I be able to create my own interpretation? Is it important if I try to interpret Borges in the light that he would want to be interpreted in; in other words, would Borges agree with my personal interpretations of his work? Does that matter? Or, like Chris seems to suggest, is Borges' work even more relevant today than it was when it was written because it is more universally applicable now? Is there such thing as universal applicability?

Questions like these make me want to go out and change my personal reading choice to something less threatening...something like Book of Mormon Stories, Illustrated Version...

1 comment:

  1. Rachael, I have been struggling with the exact same problem. I'm in 251 right now and we're talking all about the theories behind reading literature and there are just so many different ideas that seem pretty legitimate. It also worries me to read criticism or other people's opinions before I read something because I'm worried that my own ideas in reality won't be my own at all. Please continue blogging about this subject; I'd be really interested to see what you think after you've tried a couple of different ways.