“The idea of compulsory reading is absurd; it's only worthwhile to speak of compulsory happiness. I believe that poetry is something one feels. If you don't feel poetry, if you have no sense of beauty, if a story doesn't make you want to know what happened next, then the author has not written for you. Put it aside. Literature is rich enough to offer you some other author worthy of your attention — or one today unworthy of your attention whom you will read tomorrow.”
— Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights
San Antonio, Texas
April 26, 2011
I read Borges's fabulous book Seven Nights for the seven thousandth time, I think, and it seems to me a book I can never finish, because, as he says, a book changes each time we read it, because we change and are never the same person we were yesterday — "Each reading of a book, each rereading, each memory of that reading, reinvents the text."
For me, reading and rereading this book is a form of happiness. It is an antidote to sorrow. It is medicine for my dying soul. It is a manner of being reborn.
And so I read this essay as if for the first time, and like Siddhartha's river, it was the first time, for I was not the same person. And it made me laugh out loud and run for my pen so that I might share this moment with you.
I need only one intimate listener in order to write. For most of my life that listener has been anonymous, unknown. I have been known to flood like a Ganges. And I have been dry and dusty as the Rio Grande. I am writing to you today, my unknown intimate. Without you, I would have no reason to be.