Borges (1964). A New Refutation of Time. (Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings).

Borges, J. L. (1964). A New Refutation of Time. In D. A. Yates & J. E. Irby (Eds.), J. E. Irby (Trans.), Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings (pp. 217–234). New York: New Directions.

“… Zeno’s arrow …” (p 217)

“… our language is so saturated and animated by time that it is quite possible there is not one statement in these pages which in some way does not demand or invoke the idea of time.” (p 218)

“Berkeley (_Principles of Human Knowledge, 3_) observed: ‘That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist without the mind, is what everybody will allow. And it seems no less evident that the various sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together (that is, whatever objects they compose) cannot exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving them …’ … ‘But say you, surely there is nothing easier than to imagine trees, for instance, in a park or books existing in a closet, and no body by to perceive them. I answer, you may so, there is no difficulty in it: but what is all this, I beseech you, more than framing in your mind certain ideas which you call _books_ and _trees_, and at the same time omitting to frame the idea of any one that may perceive them?” (p 219)

“… he defines the universe as a phenomenon of the brain and distinguishes the ‘world in the head’ from ‘the world outside the head.'” (p 220)

“… neither can one speak of the perceptions of the mind, since the mind is nothing other than a series of perceptions. The Cartesian ‘I think, therefore I am’ is thus invalidated; to say ‘I think’ postulates the self, is a begging of the question; … behind our faces there is no secret self which governs our acts and receives our impressions; we are, solely, the series of these imaginary acts and these errant impressions.” (p 221)

“… every time I remember the ninety-first fragment of Heraclitus ‘You shall not go down twice to the same river,’ I admire its dialectical dexterity, because the ease with which we accept the first meaning (‘The river is different’) clandestinely imposes upon us the second (‘I am different’) and grants us the illusion of having invented it; …” (p 223)

“All language is of a successive nature; it does not lend itself to a reasoning of the eternal, the intemporal.” (p 225)

“Time, if we can intuitively grasp such an identity, is a delusion: [page break] the difference and inseparability of one moment belonging to its apparent past from another belonging to its apparent present is sufficient to disintegrate it.” (p 226-227)

“Outside each perception (real or conjectural) matter does not exist; outside each mental state spirit does not exist; neither does time exist outside each present moment.” (p 230)

“It is not indivisible, for in such a case it would have no beginning to link it to the past nor end to link it to the future, nor even a middle, since what has no beginning or end can have no middle; neither is it divisible, for in such a case it would consist of a part that was and another that is not. _Ergo_, it does not exist, but since the past and the future do not exist either, time does not exist. … time is a mere relation between intemporal things.” (p 232)

“No man has ever lived in the past, and none will live in the future; the _present_ alone is the form of all life, … ‘The being of a past moment of thought — the _Road to Purity_ tells us — has lived, but does not live nor will it live. The being of a future moment will live, but has not lived nor does it live. The being of the present moment of thought does live, but has not lived nor will it live” (op. cit., I, 407) …” (p 233)

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” (p 234)


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