Last week operations were well, stalled, due to a wicked blizzard that made shoveling tragically unpleasant. This week we hope to post Wednesday as well as Sunday so that we can continue on with our planned routine, because what is life, or even death, without a routine?
As we shoveled paths for ourselves through the two feet of snow we began to think about the idea of sight. So much before us was covered. We began to obsess with the idea of sight until the obsession eventually took over your dear Gravedigger’s very own sight. Several days past and my eye balls throbbed and gruesomely bulged. It was both ghastly, and thought provoking. Did I need a doctor? I was not so sure. I didn’t want to mention my condition to the Undertaker who would likely sell me a plot and do away with me. So, I kept my pain silent, and hidden, hoping upon hope that it would pass.
In my condition, I began to think of our dear Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899-June 14, 1986), the famous, fabulist, Argentine writer, essayist, and poet. Borges’ national renown was solidified by his intricate short stories whose common themes were dreams, labyrinths, the nature of time, religion and God. However, his beginnings were in poetry. In his thirties Borges began to suffer from a degenerative condition that led to his eventual blindness. The tragedy became that one of the greatest Latin American writers could no longer see his art, his life, his own words.
I began to read Borges’ Poems of the Night, a collection of poems of his work throughout his literary career that dealt with the topic of dreams, night, and blindness. Popular Borges themes from his short stories appear throughout – religion, mirrors, and the labyrinth. An interesting side note here; Borges was quoted as saying that he had two nightmares; one of labyrinths and the other of mirrors. His living nightmare, the world he feared by night, probably became the world he lived in by day without his sight.
The poems are beautiful in this collection and are haunting and consuming. With titles such as Break of Day, Almost A Last Judgment, The Cyclical Night, and In Praise of Darkness. His poetry weaves you within this dark maze, making you ask yourself if you really want to find a way out.
I will certainly discuss Borges in greater length at another time. There is too much to tell right now about this master. I do also want to reassure you that your dear, sinful Gravedigger has recovered and can now see clearly again. Perhaps I found my sight somewhere in one of Borges’ labyrinths.
I leave you now with a quote from his poem Ars Poetica –
“To be aware that waking dreams it is not asleep
While it is another dream, and that the death
That our flesh goes in fear of is that death
Which comes every night and is called sleep.”
– Jorge Luis Borges