Tagjorgeborges

DSM-5 As Borgesian Novel

Mental Disorders

DSM-5 as a dystopian novel:

If the novel has an overbearing literary influence, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Luis Borges. The American Psychiatric Association takes his technique of lifting quotes from or writing faux-serious reviews for entirely imagined books and pushes it to the limit: Here, we have an entire book, something that purports to be a kind of encyclopedia of madness, a Library of Babel for the mind, containing everything that can possibly be wrong with a human being. Perhaps as an attempt to ward off the uncommitted reader, the novel begins with a lengthy account of the system of classifications used – one with an obvious debt to the Borgesian Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which animals are exhaustively classified according to such sets as “those belonging to the Emperor,” “those that, at a distance, resemble flies,” and “those that are included in this classification.”

Just as Borges’s system groups animals by seemingly aleatory characteristics entirely divorced from their actual biological attributes, DSM-5 arranges its various strains of madness solely in terms of the behaviors exhibited. This is a recurring theme in the novel, while any consideration of the mind itself is entirely absent. In its place we’re given diagnoses such as “frotteurism,” “oppositional defiant disorder,” and “caffeine intoxication disorder.” That said, these classifications aren’t arranged at random; rather, they follow a stately progression comparable to that of Dante’s Divine Comedy, rising from the infernal pit of the body and its weaknesses (intellectual disabilities, motor tics) through our purgatorial interactions with the outside world (tobacco use, erectile dysfunction, kleptomania) and finally arriving in the limpid-blue heavens of our libidinal selves (delirium, personality disorders, sexual fetishism). It’s unusual, and at times frustrating in its postmodern knowingness, but what is being told is first and foremost a story.

Full Story: New Inquiry: Book of Lamantations

Jorge Luis Borges Self-Portrait

Jorge Luis Borges self-portrait

Jorge Luis Borges Self-Portrait, self-portrait. From the collection of Burt Britton. Borges was nearly blind when he drew this for Britton.

(via CC Huang)

“The Parallels!” Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges

John Barth on Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges:

Here, I thought, was a sort of Borges without tears, or better, a Borges con molto brio: lighter-spirited than the great Argentine, often downright funny (as Sr. Borges almost never is), yet comparably virtuosic in form and language, comparably rich in intelligence and imagination.

Full Article: “The Parallels!” Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges.

Imaginary book review contest

The Modern World held a Borges inspired “imaginary book review” contest. I haven’t read any of the reviews yet, but I love the idea.

The Modern World: Imaginary book review contest

Borges on Google Maps

Borges’s story about a map as big as the territory it represented compared to Google Maps:

It is in these days that we are witnessing the collective creation of a map even more exact that Borges could imagine; one that describes the limits, the roads, and the shores of every territory on the planet. At the same time it uncovers another ambition more perfect and occult: that every shepherd or “emperor” can edit their own map as they wish, they can forge their own version of the world. In that map we will have a blueprint of human life: Things moving, crimes, thefts, migrating animals, childhood memories, imaginary battles between good and evil, hookers and ogres, real-time weather. In all, anything that can be pointed down to the soil and be named.

Full Story: Mira: Google Maps according to Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges’ Influence on Other Writers

Here’s a great sub-site from a Jorge Luis Borges site with analysis of Borges’ influence on numerous writers, including: Grant Morrison, William Gibson, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Umberto Eco and others.

Morrison: I had a dream where I was on a train going through a horrible bone-like station. The name on the platform said “Orqwith,” so I’d thought I’d use it. Also, part of this dream was that this fictitious world was infiltrating parts of itself into our world. But like you say, it’s got a lot to do with stealing work of a blind Argentinian writer.

AH: I’m afraid I stopped reading after “The Garden of Forking Paths.”

Morrison: So you haven’t finished Labyrinths?

AH: I did read ‘”Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and the one about Don Quixote.

Morrison: I think he’s wonderful. I just have baths in this sort of thing. That was one of the things I wanted to Introduce in Doom Patrol. All those strange paradoxes and philosophical curios.

Borges as an Influence

(via the Barbelith Underground).

Excellent Borges site

The Garden of Jorge Luis Borges is a collection of online texts that contains, in addition to criticism, some of Borges’ fiction and poetry; including “Library of Babel,” one of his most acclaimed and frequently referred to stories.

When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon. The universe was justified, the universe suddenly usurped the unlimited dimensions of hope. At that time a great deal was said about the Vindications: books of apology and prophecy which vindicated for all time the acts of every man in the universe and retained prodigious arcana for his future. Thousands of the greedy abandoned their sweet native hexagons and rushed up the stairways, urged on by the vain intention of finding their Vindication. These pilgrims disputed in the narrow corridors, proferred dark curses, strangled each other on the divine stairways, flung the deceptive books into the air shafts, met their death cast down in a similar fashion by the inhabitants of remote regions. Others went mad … The Vindications exist (I have seen two which refer to persons of the future, to persons who are perhaps not imaginary) but the searchers did not remember that the possibility of a man’s finding his Vindication, or some treacherous variation thereof, can be computed as zero.

The Garden of Jorge Luis Borges

Borges story in the latest Exquisite Corpse

The latest edition of the weird literary magazine Exquisite Corpse has an Jorge Borges story called “Ragnarök” in it. Short and thought provoking.

In dreams, writes Coleridge, images form the impressions that we believe them to trigger; we are not afraid because we’re clutched by a sphinx, but rather a sphinx embodies the fear that we feel. If this is so, can a mere account of one’s dream–shapes transmit the stupor, the elation, the false alarms, the menace, and the jubilation that is woven into last night’s sleep? I will experiment with this account, without restraint; perhaps the fact that the dream was a single stream of consciousness expunges or mitigates this essential difficulty.

Exquisite Corpose: Ragnarök by Jorge Luis Borges.

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