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Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Point of it All

posted by on March 30 at 12:40 PM

My past obsession with Jorge Luis Borges (between 93 and 97)…
img_borges.jpg…is matched, in quality/intensity, only by my current obsession with Spinoza, particularly his short book The Ethics, and more particularly, the chapter titled “On The Mind,” and even more particularly, the early passages on the memory and the body.

It is to the genius of their creators that “The Aleph” and The Ethics owe their liberation from the low status of creations. Because the minds of the writers wanted to mirror the mind of creation, these works do not appear to be works, works that are mere fabrications, but, instead, works that shimmer in the amazing manner of the Buddhist infinite net of jewels, that is, in the manner of what the scholastics called substance, that is, in the manner of creation itself.

And so today my life arrived at a new level of happiness (happiness being the sense of fulfillment or completion) when I discovered this poem by Borges:

Baruch Spinoza

Like golden mist, the west lights up
The window. The diligent manuscript
Awaits, already laden with infinity.
Someone is building God in the twilight.
A man engenders God. He is a Jew
Of sad eyes and citrine skin.
Time carries him as the river carries
A leaf in the downstream water.
No matter. The enchanted one insists
And shapes God with delicate geometry.
Since his illness, since his birth,
He goes on constructing God with the word.
The mighties love was granted him
Love that does not expect to be loved.

You must love it all and not expect to be loved at all. That is real love, that is Spinoza.

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I have the same birthday as Spinoza, a thought that (as a hack philosopher) always makes me pretty happy. God forbid I share a birthday with Zizek or Sartre or someone really depressing like Ayn Rand.

Posted by el | March 30, 2008 11:48 AM

There's a Spinoza statue in Den Hauge, the Netherlands. It sits a block outside the Red Light District, I wonder what he'd have to say about that?

Posted by bob | March 30, 2008 12:16 PM

Thanks, Charles -- beautiful way to start the day. -- Lesley

Posted by Lesley Hazleton | March 31, 2008 8:42 AM

To concur with Lesley @3, this was a beautiful post. And it would have been a beautiful post even if it didn't mention the great Borges. (I'd also say "the great Spinoza," but I'm not enough of a student of philosophy to attest to the greatness of Spinoza.)

Posted by cressona | March 31, 2008 9:04 AM


just for the record, he is a Great Philosopher. in that funny way that you always respect the master's, it takes a long time sifting through to honor someone who is just genuinely good at his job (not flashy, not controversial, not cool for the kids). he's genuinely good.

Posted by el | March 31, 2008 11:14 AM

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