May 042013

Fascinating essay linking the Kantian tradition and Borgesian formalism, the meaningful meaninglessness of form.


Both the notion of purposiveness without purpose and the notion of genius irreducible to concept lie behind Borges’ speculations about the wall and the books: Borges is fascinated by the possibility of something that can be “nothing but form,” and by the notion that a formal pattern “hints, but only hints, at significance.” Borges mentions Benedetto Croce and Walter Pater in his essay—and neither figure would exist in recognizable form without Kant. But another figure derived from the German Idealist tradition comes to mind in connection with Borges’ idea of the “imminence of a revelation, which does not happen” as central to aesthetics: Carl Gustav Jung. Jung, in his great essay “On the Relation of Analytic Psychology to Poetry,” argues that the most significant forms of art give us not specific meanings per se, but “a language pregnant with meanings, and images that are true symbols because they are … bridges thrown out towards an unseen shore.” Meaningfulness without meaning, we might say, is the gist of Jung’s theory, here: and it is certainly a theory in accord with Borges’ fascinations.

via Samizdat Blog: The Haunting of Jorge Luis Borges, or: Borges in the Kantian Tradition.

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