June 7, , was a Sunday like any other amid the altered routine of the Second World War. Jorge Luis Borges — has received universal acclaim for the depth with which he approached matters of philosophic and scientific import in his writings. The strange thing about the obituary is that Borges barely refers to Joyce or his work and instead describes Ireneo Funes, the main character of the story he was writing at the time. Lo he recordado porque la consecutiva y recta. Of the magical compadrito of my story I can state that he is a precursor to supermen, a suburban, incomplete Zarathustra; what cannot be denied is that he is a monster. In fact, toward the end of the story he mentions that Funes found sleeping difficult, because to sleep is to get distracted from the world.
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June 7, , was a Sunday like any other amid the altered routine of the Second World War. Jorge Luis Borges — has received universal acclaim for the depth with which he approached matters of philosophic and scientific import in his writings. The strange thing about the obituary is that Borges barely refers to Joyce or his work and instead describes Ireneo Funes, the main character of the story he was writing at the time.
Of the magical compadrito of my story I can state that he is a precursor to supermen, a suburban, incomplete Zarathustra; what cannot be denied is that he is a monster. In fact, toward the end of the story he mentions that Funes found sleeping difficult, because to sleep is to get distracted from the world. When I suffered from insomnia I tried to forget myself, to forget my body, the position of my body, the bed, the furniture, the three gardens of the hotel, the eucalyptus tree, the books on the shelf, all the streets of the village, the station, the farmhouses.
In a word that fragmentary hoodlum is me, or is an image I stole for literary purposes but which corresponds to my own insomnia. Pliny considers it a blessing to possess an extraordinary memory. Pliny also describes the fragility of memory, arguing that it can be lost, in whole or in part, due to illness, injury, and even panic.
As an example he tells the story of a man who lost the capacity to name letters after being struck by a stone, and of another who forgot certain people after falling from a roof. He also mentions Messala Corvinus, the orator, who lost recollection of even his own name. Says Funes, midway through the story:. My memory, sir, is like a rubbish heap. The first properly documented case of extraordinary memory is that of Solomon Shereshevskii, studied by the celebrated Russian psychologist Alexander Luria starting in the s.
Shereshevskii possessed a very strong synesthesia — an involuntary link between different senses, like associating numbers with colors — that gave his memories a much richer content and thus made them easier to recollect. These associations, as well as the use of simple mnemonics, allowed Shereshevskii to remember long sequences of numbers and letters many years after first hearing them.
After studying Shereshevskii for more than 30 years, Luria confessed his inability to find a limit to S. There are clear parallels between Shereshevskii and Funes, despite the fact that the former trained his memory based on his synesthesia while for the latter to remember everything was completely natural.
Imagine the most extreme example, a human being who does not possess the power to forget, who is damned to see becoming everywhere; such a human being would no longer believe in his own being, would no longer believe in himself, would see everything flow apart in turbulent particles, and would lose himself in this stream of becoming; like the true student of Heraclitus, in the end he would hardly even dare to lift a finger.
All action requires forgetting, just as the existence of all organic things requires not only light, but darkness as well. If we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.
Without totally forgetting a prodigious number of states of consciousness, and momentarily forgetting a large number, we could not remember at all. The relation to Funes, Shereshevskii, and Nietzsche is fascinating. Sospecho, sin embargo, que no era muy capaz de pensar. I suspect, however, that he was not very capable of thinking.
On the contrary, these parallel writings provide a philosophical and scientific foundation on which Borges may have found part of his inspiration.
Going back to Funes and other people with extraordinary memory, we must mention Borges himself, who could quote whole passages in Spanish, English, German, and Anglo-Saxon, among other tongues.
The fragment, the writer said, was on an odd-numbered page near the middle of the book. Kodama started to read a page at random and Borges, amazingly, guided her to the right page even though he had been blind for many years and — as he jotted on the first page — had read the book in , decades before this encounter with Kodama.
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Peter Sterling Apr Are we alone? Henkjan Honing Jan If certain areas of science appear to be quite mature, others are in the process of development, and yet others remain to be born. Posted on Jun 20, Facebook Twitter Reddit Flipboard. Borges Literature Memory Neuroscience. The Symbolic Use of Barrier Contraceptives in American and English Literature The diaphragm and cervical cap have been used to signify extramarital sex, working-class status, embarrassment, sorrow, and the onset of adulthood — but rarely a joyful or pleasant sexual encounter.
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Funes the Memorious
After the accident he became Funes the Memorious. Borges in his usual playful manner is in this story exploring the extent to which memory aids or obstructs our capacity to think, to create categories, to understand underlying and organizing principles within our perceptual world. Would there be a need to classify objects in the world? The clutter of excessive detail, the inexhaustible capacity for remembering, would of course, in this argument that Borges is examining, render higher level reasoning problematic, to say the least.
In his initial remarks on language in the Essay c oncerning Human Understanding , John Locke has this to say about the problem of choosing from the chaos of sensation what to give a name to, for it is obvious that, if we were quite arbitrary about it, we could give a name not just to any- thing but to every instantaneous choice from our sensory experience:. The multiplication of words would have perplexed their use, had every particular thing need of a distinct name to be signified by. This is a fantasy of an absolute nominalism, in which the Real is taken to be categorizable as an all-embracing infinity of particulars matching an infinity of words. It reminds us of one of Bertrand Russell's comments, that finally, to banish all sameness from the "common" referent, one would have to have a word for every infinitesimal instant of every object, hapax legomena , a language of "once-only-names" Russell
Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human Brain [Excerpt]