At the age of 79 Borges had made the following brave and honest statement in a lecture entitled Immortality:
‘’I don’t want to continue being Jorge Luis Borges: I want to be someone else. I hope that my death will be total: I hope to die in body and soul.’’
Borges does not claim to know what will happen after his death. He does not deny that there is a possibility that he might find himself re-incarnated as another being, or that he might find eternal life in heaven. But he is saying that he does not desire either re-incarnation or eternal life.
Later in his lecture Borges describes how some of the things that he has said and done will live on in the words and deeds of people to come. This is the way that Borges does want to live on in the universe: in the same way that Borges himself has kept alive Shakespeare,Dante, his own parents, neighbours and acquaintances by using and remembering their words and deeds.
I hope Borges got his wish. I am not convinced that eternal reincarnation or eternal life for one individual entity is in accordance with the spirit of the universe. The universe seems to be more interested in re-using and re-combining things than in ring- fencing and preserving things. The greatest gift of the creator to this universe is evolution: the fact that life can learn and adapt and new life forms can develop which are novel and different.
Why would the universe need a James Lappin in a million years time? What possible use would ‘I’ be to anything?
Jeff Barry, who lives in Borges’ home city of Buenos Aires, blogged last Wednesday about this same quote, as part of his wonderful series of blog posts called ‘30 days with Borges’. I’ve posted each of the 30 days to a del.icio.us page if you want a quick way of accessing all thirty of them.