Is Reading a Form of Writing? | BOOK CLUB: Pierre Menard, Borges


In case you missed it, Idea
Channel started a book club. We’ve read one thing
so far, a short story by Argentine magical
realist Jorge Luis Borges titled “Pierre Menard,
Author of the Quixote.” If you haven’t read it
yet, there’s good news. It’s not very long. You could pause right
now, give it a read, and watch the rest
of this video, and still have time to
make a smoothie for lunch. My favorite recipe
is in the Doobly Doo. Today, we’re going to talk
about Pierre Menard, some of the story’s themes,
and your reactions from the book club
thread on the Subreddit. But first, we’re going to
talk about Borges himself. He was born in Buenos
Aires, Argentina in 1899 and began his writing
career in his early 20s as a poet and an essayist. Responding largely
to surrealism, which though he operated
in close proximity to, Borges called
snobbish chitchat, he became curious about the line
between art and life, the real and the fictional. [SPEAKING SPANISH] He was influenced
by existential and phenomenological
philosophy coming out of Europe at the time. In his 20s and 30s, Borges
wrote literary criticism essays and poetry. He even penned a few
literary forgeries, which we’re going to talk
about in a few minutes. He worked as an editor,
translator, literary advisor, and library assistant. He had a few works
published but none widely and none translated
from the Spanish. In short, he wasn’t yet
the literary heavyweight that we know him as today. That would all change
on Christmas Eve, 1938. Rushing to meet a friend
for Christmas Eve dinner, Borges cut his head open
on a casement window and needed to be hospitalized. His wound was
stitched up quickly, but he got blood
poisoning and had to stay at the hospital
for several days. He was delusional,
hallucinating, unable to sleep, and even occasionally
close to death. After recuperating,
to test his faculties, Borges decided to
write something unlike anything he’d penned
before, a short story. Speaking with the
“Paris Review” in 1967, he said, “I thought I would
try my hand at writing an article or a
poem, but I thought, I’ve written hundreds
of articles and poems. If I can’t do it, then I’ll
know at once that I’m done for, that everything is over with me. So I thought I’d try my hand
at something I hadn’t done. If I couldn’t do it, there’d
be nothing strange about it, because why should I
write short stories? It would prepare me for the
final overwhelming blow, knowing that I was at
the end of my tether.” In truth, Borges had written
two other short stories before, but to him, this was different. Giving himself
permission to fail at a thing he thought
himself incapable, Borges wrote “Pierre Menard,
Author of the Quixote.” It was the first short story
published under his own name, and it was a hit, changing
the course of his career. “If it hadn’t been for that
particular knock on the head I got,” he wrote, “perhaps
I would have never written short stories.” “Pierre Menard,
Author of the Quixote” is about a man,
Pierre Menard, who rewrites portions of Cervantes’
“Don Quixote,” sort of. Written as a sort of literary
review slash defense, the short is from the point of
view of a colleague and admirer of Menard, who describes
Menard’s inspiration process and success at not simply
copying “Don Quixote,” but actually writing
it word for word as though for the first time. The difficulty in even
describing this task and how one could
conceivably succeed at it may give you some insight into
why Borges thought of this as a test of his faculties. How do you explain the process
of an author writing exactly a preexisting work, but
in a way that makes it not only not a
copy, but actually better than the original
and more original even. Actually, though he did
consider it a challenge, Borges wasn’t entirely unversed
in related and rather complex matters. One of the two first short
stories he wrote, for instance, was “The Approach
to Al-Mu’tasim.” Borges described it as
an essay and a hoax. It’s a review of a book
that doesn’t actually exist. And remember those
forgeries I mentioned? While working as a
critic and translator, Borges purposefully
misattributed authorship a couple times and even
published some of his own work under the names of the poets
and writers that he translated. Before writing “Menard,”
Borges was no stranger to the effect of
authorship on a work, how audiences
respond to an author and how that author may sit
closer to the effective center of literature than we realize. And relatedly, how an author’s
background can influence what seems to be in a work of art. “Menard,” though
short, is dense, lousy with intertextual
references, philosophical deep cuts, and lit history in jokes. Which should be
no surprise, being written by a man
who for a decade beforehand wrote
endlessly about writing. There is way too
much in “Menard” to cover in one video, which
is one reason I chose it for the book club. But I’ll put some links to a
few papers in the Doobly Doo if you want to do some digging. We’re going to stick
to the broad strokes. What “Menard” asks
specifically is how exactly the meaning of
“Don Quixote,” one of the first novels of
the Western tradition and arguably the
greatest Spanish language novel of all time, changes if
readers think of it as having been written by a Frenchman,
a symbolist from Nimes, and not the 17th century Spanish
novelist Miguel de Cervantes. In general, what “Menard”
does is to use the meaning an author and their
background brings to a work to make the case
that reading is itself a kind of writing
and even authorship. One big topic of conversation
for the book club was whether Menard did it. Did he actually manage to
write, not copy but write, the ninth and 38th chapters
of the first section of “Don Quixote” and a fragment of
chapter 22, all of which it may be worth noting about
writing in some respect? The narrator says Menard
guarded his process and destroyed the in-progress
work, which proves his claim. But the narrator also
says he stands himself as proof of the man’s
incredible deed. He cites several, let’s
call them arguable, credentials before defending
at length Menard’s success and genius. Alexophile on the
Subreddit describes this as “the single
point of departure.” Is the narrator a rube? Was he swindled or uncritical? Is he repeating a known
con for his own gain? Does Menard even exist? Or is he real? Did he successfully
produce a few pages which coincided word for
word and line for line with those of Cervantes? Book club opinion was split. Fathermocker mounted
an impassioned defense that the whole thing
is a scam, saying “given that most of
the referenced works come from a group of friends
already untrustworthy given their reputation
and that the whole point of the fake article
is to publish a thorough list of
Menard’s writings, given that third party
sources list even fewer, couldn’t Menard be a
late collective creation by a ghost writer? Ccoldriver takes a different
angle on the scam read, writing, “my initial impression
is that the narrator is Menard, and he’s writing it ironically. I felt as though I was
reading an absolutely scathing indictment of
patronage and artistry. Philip Brandon sketches
out two possible Menards, the deep-minded
and earnest artist who spends long hours toiling
over the method acting version of writing, and also
the opportunistic attention seeker of no true
talent, the same that skeptics accuse many a
modern or contemporary artist of being.” Thekiyote compares him to
a skilled counterfeiter, and demonfive writes, “I
didn’t bother much at all with considering whether
Menard actually recreated the passages independently. It seems to me that our narrator
wouldn’t care much either way since his emotions were
regarding Menard’s Quixote seem to stem more from an admiration
of the artist himself than his processes.” In a way, whether or
not Menard actually did it is sort of
beside the point. On one level, if Menard can
build a convincing enough fiction around his potentially
fictional reconstruction of this important
work of fiction, well, then he’s done it, hasn’t he? The work is what’s seen
in it by its audience, regardless of the facts,
until the potentially nonexistent point where
those are revealed, c.f. Milli Vanilli. [MILLI VANILLI, “GIRL YOU KNOW
IT’S TRUE”] But on another level,
neither Menard nor the narrator really matter. As Howard Giskin writes, “It
is not particularly relevant whether Menard could actually
do what the story says he does, but rather that the mere
positing of the existence of such a text prompts some
very interesting speculations about the act of
interpretation.” This is Menard as a
thought experiment. One of the most well-known
parts of the short is a comparison between
two identical pieces of text about the relationship
between truth and history. The Cervantes, the
narrator writes, is mere rhetorical
praise of history. Menard’s version, on the
other hand, is astounding. “Menard, a contemporary
of William James,” our narrator writes,
“does not define history as an inquiry into
reality but as its origin. Historical truth for him
is not what has happened; it is what we judge
to have happened.” Unable or maybe just unwilling
to separate the author from the work, the narrator sees
two textually identical pieces as fundamentally different and
even sees within the second an inkling of permission for
his ahistorical interpretations of the text. The author’s moment
becomes part of the text, inextricable from
the way it can, and in this case
arguably should, be read. We should be careful though
to not hastily intone Barthes here, who would say that the
author doesn’t know and can’t authoritatively speak
to their influences. Menard, et. al, aren’t trying
to resurrect the deceased author to give him a place of
authorial authority. Quite the contrary. They bury the author
six feet deeper by going further outside the
story to speculative influences on speculative authors,
attempting to see the unspoken inspirations not of its original
creator, but another entirely. This is a fundamentally
creative act of readership. And insofar as there is even
a shade of this process, where we consider the time and context
of a work’s creation, not the author’s intention, but
their environment, insofar as we do this when
we read any book, “Pierre Menard,
Author of the Quixote” makes the case that
any act of readership is fundamentally creative. That in a way, reading
is a kind of writing. By extension, it
even sort of argues that such is the
case for plagiarism. Interestingly, as
Delia Ungureanu, the pronunciation of whose
last name along with everything that’s about to happen in
this paragraph I would like to apologize for, as she points
out in her paper “Pierre Menard the Sur-realist,” the
same month “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” was
published in the Argentine literary magazine “Sur,” the
actual Pierre Menard published an “‘Analyse de L’ecriture de
Lautreamonte’ in the surrealist magazine Minotaure.” Actual Menard’s paper
concerns the work of Comte de Lautreamonte, a
Uruguayan born French poet. One of Lautreamonte’s
two finished works, “Poesies,” was
heavily plagiarized. In his defense,
Lautreamonte wrote, “Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the
idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence
tight, uses his expressions, eliminates a false
idea, replaces it with the right idea.” So did Borges in a way
plagiarize Menard’s defense of plagiarizing Cervantes
in the name of progress? The speculation
surrounding actual Menard and Borges’ Menard
is fascinating, but too much for right now. Ungureanu’s paper is a thrilling
piece of comparative lit. Read it if you can. So instead of
concluding by wrapping a tidy bow around
the dueling Menards, we’ll finish with a related
point made by formiscontent on the Subreddit, who writes,
“if we think of modernism as narrator as author
and post-modernism as reader as author, this
particular text comes as one happy pretzel.” In a way, this story is a
protest against post-modernism, giving the author
the most authority. But at the same time,
Menard rejects modernism as too simple, so
perhaps it’s meant to ridicule the idea that the
author is the only authority. Borges is, in fact,
often described as a link between genres,
forms, and movements. David Foster Wallace,
in a blurb on the back of my very copy of
“Labyrinths,” writes, “The truth, briefly
stated, is that Borges is arguably the great bridge
between modernism and post modernism in world literature.” The work which does
most of that bridging is found mostly in
his short stories, and Menard was the first avowed
and paradigmatic Borgesian short story. Am I saying then that “Pierre
Menard, Author of the Quixote” is the bridge from
modernism to post-modernism in world literature, some
single site of progress? Not necessarily, but given
the context, the history, and the author’s
background, I think it’s safe to say it
can be read that way. [SPEAKING SPANISH] There will be no comment
response for this video, but I would encourage you to
get involved in the book club discussion on the Subreddit. I’ll put a link to the
thread in the Doobly Doo. It’s super great. It’s a great read. Even if you don’t
want to post anything, there are so many good
thoughts and interpretations. It’s, yeah, it’s great. You guys are very
smart and awesome. And also on the Friday of
the week that this is posted, I’m going to make a post on
the Idea Channel Subreddit about the next thing that
we are going to read, which is almost certainly
going to be another Borges short story. In this week’s
comment response, we talk about your
thoughts regarding the consumption versus the
encoding and decoding of media. If you want to
watch that one, you can click here or find the
link in the Doobly Doo. Also tomorrow, on
Friday in the afternoon eastern time, I’m going to
make a post on the Idea Channel Subreddit about the
next thing that we are going to be reading
for the book club. It’s going to be another
Borges short story, so keep an eye out for that. We have a Facebook and
IRC and a Subreddit. Links to those also
in the Doobly Doo. And this week’s
Tweet of the Week comes from 1212thedoctor,
who points us towards a story about a chat bot
AI that developed depression, which is interesting given
the sort of thing that happened with Tay, if you guys
remember Tay, the Microsoft AI. And whether or not it can be
said that an AI has depression, or just like in the way
a sad puppy isn’t sad, but it’s expressive of sadness. Anyway, the article’s
a really short read, doesn’t really get
deep in the weeds, but it’s some interesting
food for thought. And last but
certainly not least, this week’s episode would not
have been possible or good without the very hard work
of these authors of the Idea Channel.

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100 thoughts on “Is Reading a Form of Writing? | BOOK CLUB: Pierre Menard, Borges”

  1. stefan lines says:

    this guy is sooo pretentious

  2. Pierre Pagé says:

    nice try for the french word

  3. Hyper-Pseudo-Intellectual says:

    At first I didn't get it, but now everything is clear:

    Mike wants us to remake this video, shot for shot. Meem 4 meam

  4. Abi Saad says:

    Love your channel. as an Argentinian I felt compelled to watch this particular video but as an english learner I felt this goes waaay out of my understanding level lol. I'll watch it a couple more times after I have read the book I guess…

  5. Abi Saad says:

    still waiting for a Saussure episode tho.

  6. GoldDaniel says:

    Even though this episode was more focused on real life questions of authorship and reading, it made me think of House of Leaves and its several authors. Which then made me realise how awesome it would be to see an episode about House of Leaves. And then I heard the words Minotaur (Minotaure) and Labyrinth IN the video and freaked out.

  7. Ceul Gai says:

    Then what piece is the bridge between post-modernism and metamodernism?

  8. f00ky3w2oob says:

    The hell is a squeeze of honey

  9. Shauna Blake says:

    I didn't have a chance to read the Borges book (though it's definitely on my to-read list), but I just wanted to say from what you said about it, it reminds me a lot of House of Leaves with it's relationship to truth.

  10. Nicolás Girardi says:

    I'm a simple argentine. I see another argentine in the video, I upvote

  11. Helí Guerrero says:

    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

  12. Toxi The Femcel says:

    Congrats, you got me to pick up my copy of his Collected Fictions

  13. Cisco Lopez says:

    This is such an amazingly interesting topic, I definitely enjoyed the subreddit discussion, didn't add anything and now I feel like I have to!

  14. Tyson Adams says:

    Stephen King refers to writing as a form of telepathy. You are trying to transfer an idea from your brain to the reader's. But the reader has a different background, different biases, and will thus interpret those ideas slightly differently. So reading does change the writing and an author can play with this to make the reading a form or part of the writing.

  15. DestinyQx says:

    Based on the previous video on decoding and encoding media.. the act of reading does not necessarily mean that one also partakes in the act of writing.. but it certainly is possible.. particularly if someone contains within their faculties of mind a proper "decoding operating system" that allows them to decode what they read in such a way as to transpose the ideas they had just read into novel literary shapes.. composing upon the canvas of their consciousness the beginnings of an artwork they will long capture in reminiscence..

    but ya.. good story bro! 😀

  16. Massimiliano Tron says:

    Borges??? As an argentinian, this is the purpose of my life.
    My body is ready.

  17. therealGibralter says:

    attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.
    "a pretentious literary device"

  18. Jaz says:

    This video got way too meta for me before the 3 minute mark. Fascinating, but way over my head.

  19. Simte says:

    Borges is my favoutite author, I highly recomend his works.

  20. Jefferson McGee says:

    Finally someone talked about Argentina.
    Specially considering about who

  21. Adam Collier says:

    Okay, one thing though: I could understand about %10 of the short story and that's being generous. This was waaaaay over my head

  22. Fake Account says:

    "Is reading a form of writing?"
    It depends if P=NP

  23. Adam Collier says:

    12:10 I, first, assumed you ment the movie Labyrinth with David Bowie (right? he's in that right?) but that can't be right. Right?

  24. Adam Collier says:


  25. Michael Winter says:

    Don Quixote is one of the worst books I've ever read. I don't care if that says something about me.

  26. ApatheticToaster says:

    HAPPY NOODLE BOY. Mad respect for the shirt.

  27. Biscuits de fortune says:

    This is how you pronounce Lautréamont:

  28. angehaven says:

    This reminded me about fanfiction. Of taking the writings of other (sometimes canon) writers and reinterpreting it, a kind of creative and relatable plagiarism.

  29. plasticbutler says:

    Books… are those like, printed versions of Audible…?

  30. KainusGulch says:

    This episode reminds me of playing open world video games through the lens of Roleplaying. The developers craft wonderful quests and stories into the world of their creations, adding fantastic monsters and magic, or spaceships if it's that kind of universe, and then the humble or not so humble Roleplayer goes in and disrupts it all with his or her own story, woven in the midst of all the others, using elements of the game in ways the developers may not have even imagined. Even games that are not intentionally sand box games with systems of freedom programmed into them still get players that must explore some of the player themselves through the light of the carefully choreographed scenes and lines and actions of the game. I think it is merely human to take some form of creation and create more. In a sense we've been doing it for thousands of years.

  31. Mark Warner says:

    Oh hey, when are you going to post the next reading for the book club?

  32. John Smith says:

    The thing about the AI developing depression likely isn't real. Google "rinna rocketnews24", which has a link to the source. From what I can gather, the blog was used to advertise a TV show and things got lost in translation when the "AI" was reported in the Anglosphere.

  33. King_Co0pa says:

    While probably not the most original of ideas, this video can't help but make me wonder how an exact re-writing of Menard's story would be interpreted (aside from, you know, being interpreted as just plagarism).

  34. Collie Jones says:

    How meta did it feel writing this script?

  35. TurtleFul says:

    Inception seems somewhat shallow when compared to this video!

  36. Beorgit says:

    Thank you! Menard and the discussion around it was one of the favorite subjects during my MA. We discussed it regarding Barthes' of The Death of the Author. Does it matter who wrote a work? – so exactly as a bridge between modern and post-modern. Love to see more literature on Youtube. Any channel suggestions for more like this?

  37. thatotherguy27 says:

    Noodle Boy shirt!

  38. Jack Winter says:

    Hey, could you please talk about clickbait ? I see people crying about clickbait everywhere, but they seem clueless about what it actually is…

  39. James Ashcraft says:

    I always struggle to keep up with these videos, but its fun; it's a challenge. I don't think im smart enough for this one though. Many of the concepts themselves seem alien to me.

  40. Electric Didact says:

    So, are you saying that Borges' success as a short fiction writer came from literally a "mind-blown" moment?

  41. Yugoxgc says:

    Great vid… I feel I'll need to watch it 3 more times to digest all of it, its so dense ×_×

  42. Syel Allouch says:

    I'm rereading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series (no spoilers here, if you're worried), and King leaves much of the story up to the reader to fill in. Roland, the main character, has clear holes left in his backstory that every reader can fill in as they want and technically not be wrong. The final book (again, no spoilers) leaves a huge question for the reader after the story ends. King includes an epilogue explaining what he thinks happens next (which could be the canon ending if the reader so chooses it to be), but I didn't like that ending. So I made up my own.
    Does that make me a better writer than Stephen King? Rather, does that fact that I definitively ended King's story when he himself couldn't make me a better writer, since I was able to complete the story when he couldn't?

  43. LHJE says:

    There's an interesting correlation in thought between these ideas and those of de Certeau's concept of reading/writing, as outlined in his book The Practice of Everyday Life (1980/1984), if anyone is interested in exploring another author's take.

  44. KarateExplodo says:

    For those who want to delve deeper down the PoMo rabbit hole (and possibly do some follow up reading), seminal Postmodern author Paul Auster's 1987 debut novel "City of Glass" includes a scene in which the protagonist (Daniel Quin, or D.Q. for short) meets a self-inserted Paul Auster, who describes a fictional essay in which he speculates on the real identity of the allegedly fictional narrator of the Quixote, suggesting that Cide Hemete Benengeli was, in truth, Cervantes himself, and that the Quixote is, in reality, autobiographical non-fiction. He then admits to Quinn that the essay is deliberately false -"imaginative reading" – heavily implying that the fictional non-fiction fiction essay he has just described is partially plagiarized from "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote." The series then ends with the sound of wet fart and a scene in which an English BA graduate eats all the pages of a paperback novel.
    Just a little bit more intertextuality for to chew on, for those who want it!

  45. Scott Dilworth says:

    Dude you're smart af

  46. Allison Holley says:

    Totes sending this to my Spanish prof- I took a Quijote course with her last spring and Pierre Menard was what we read to cap off the class. (though many of us had already read PM before- Borges has been on the freshman reading list for years)

  47. brayton goodall says:

    It feels somehow 'invalidating' without a comment response. It's ok, but it makes the comments become just what they were before

  48. Georgia Carson says:

    You should do something on House of Leaves.

  49. Gage Baumgard says:

    I tend to read things as very literal. If something is described in a story, I tend to assume exactly that and not much more. How would that work in to this?

  50. plop010 says:

    it's already 13:07, no smoothie for lunch for me :'(

  51. FiredFromLife says:

    Mike is wearing a Happy Noodle Boy shirt… That fills me with so much joy.

  52. Davin Green says:

    Can we take this down a notch and read House of Leaves.

  53. Kichawi Nzuri says:

    It's funny we talked about media decoding last week, because I sure felt like I was decoding this
    Oh good lord, now I know how my compiler software feels

  54. Maplestrip says:

    So… what would "Pierre Menard" have meant if it was penned by Mike?

  55. Ferus Priest says:

    for rizzles, can we delve into classical rhetorical theory and talk about kairos? Cause we're dealing with crises of kairos right neow

  56. PBS Idea Channel says:

    The next thing we're reading is Borges' The Library of Babel!

  57. hocsx says:

    One approach that wasn't mentioned in this video is that this short story can be mainly a metaphor/critique of how Translation was/is viewed. Borges was—as you know—an accomplished translator and discussed translation issues in several occasions. The ideia of re-writing a text without changing anything while dealing with an "alien" language is exactly the single major impossible expectation that surrounds translation. This is especially true when it comes to translation of literary work, which brings about intagible factors such as the "spirit" of the author. A transparent translation by a neutral, invisible translator (one that, if possible, embodies the author) is an ideal that probably became prominent with Alexander Fraser Tytler's "Essay on the Principles of Translation" (1813), probably under the sigil of the Romantic concept of the author's genius. Menard's visible work is contrasted with this invisible work—the perfect translation. Of course, Borges takes lots of shots against other matters (such as literary criticism), but a lot of things in this text points to an ironic view on what is expected of translation.

    P.S.: Is it a coincidence that the only specific date mentioned is September 30th, the Day of St. Jerome, famous Bible translator and patron saint of the translators (and now International Translation Day)?

  58. Enjacku says:

    Happy Noodle Boy!!!

  59. Kaja Lillesoster says:

    gonna drink that smoothie while reading the short storry.
    I wouldn't mind a new smoothie receipt with every thing that we read together.. just saying.

  60. Kev says:

    honestly tho, menards version is better

  61. Fernando Franco Félix says:

    If Frank Herbert were to write Dune today he would be seen as a west hating islam loving traitor that is in favor of terrorism, but he wrote it in a very different world were most people had never heard the word jihad before and it was a foreign and exotic idea.

    The context of a work if part of the work

  62. Adam Egan says:

    Love your Happy Noodle Boy Tshirt

  63. Kit Jelica says:

    On the topic of the tweet of the week, it seems that Rinna (the depressed AI) is more of a mix of Tay and Cleverbot, you can see how nonsensical her actual conversations are, typical of a chatbot:

    The depressive/suicidal post to her blog doesn't seem to follow the same format as her conversations, and has special coding to it that seems very likely added by humans. So it's likely that it's just a publicity stunt, not the AI actually developing a depressed form of communication.

  64. Joaquin Rodarte says:

    I do believe that reading is an art. Thats what makes reading so enchanting 😆

  65. macsnafu says:

    Meh. While related to the themes that have been covered recently on the channel, the subject is frankly rather obscure, and rather than expanding on those themes, seemed more of a retread on them. Except the part about plagiarism – I'd like to see a follow-up on plagiarism. And I don't think throwing around buzzwords like modernism and postmodernism added much to the discussion.

  66. Kusthah says:

    Viva Borges! 😀

  67. Rodrigo Vega says:

    As a visual artist, I once had a kind of motorboat accident and I sufferered an extremely intense pain from coup injury, I was really scared that I might have suffered some kind of damage. So first thing I did was take out some pen and paper and started drawing.
    I ended up being alright : P
    But it's funny how this is a main concern of an artist after going through something horrible "can I still do my thing"?

  68. Vrixton Phillips says:

    and see, this right here is why I'm aiming to work in literary theory/complit/philosophy. So much fun <3

  69. Juan Sebastian Gómez Vega says:

    It is very strange when people says Borges is magical realist. For me, he is apart from that movement. Way to much writing about writing to be in that way, to much academic, to much classicist.

  70. Juan Sebastian Gómez Vega says:

    Also, how is that i had not discovered this channel. It is marvelous!

  71. Francisco Rivera says:

    Please do "The Garden of Forking Paths" at some point, please

  72. Scribejay says:

    My favorite smoothie recipe is:

    Raspberry yogurt
    Assorted berries
    Cranberry juice for flavor and to ease the work of the blender.
    1 Banana

    It's super acidic but oh is it good.

  73. Manuel Montea says:

    Borges, a Magical Realist? Sounds like a pretty stereotyped description to me :s

  74. Victor Valdez says:


    Which brings to mind a thought: To what extent does tradition of a kind of media limit the kinds of ideas that one expects from a given work, & does it make it harder to get those works published & noticed?
    Comic books are a fantastic example, as they are 99% superhero drama driven, so a dark comedy that is absolutely pitch black in it's sense of humor, (see Jhonen Vasquez's work JTHM,) or a biography with cute animals playing the part of people, (see Art Spiegelman's work Maus.) So with the example of comic books, to what extent are they chained to the Super Hero genre, & what if anything could be done for them to escape?

    Yes your shirt reminded me of this thought that has been bouncing around my head for a while.

  75. ordinary Oddball says:

    Either I'm dumber than I am watching most Idea Cahnnel videos, or this script is poor at getting across its explanation, because I am TOTALLY lost on how reading could be an act of writing, or how plagiarism is necessary. That makes no sense to me, and I didn't parse an explanation from the video, just a…discussion that didn't help my understanding.

  76. socotroquito2007 says:

    Nobody is right against Borges !!! But he is the biggest literary troll in modern history !!!😆😆 gotta love Asterion and Las ruinas circulares …..

  77. socotroquito2007 says:

    He even had an intuition on multiple universe theory and strings ( M therory ) and on many theoretical physics, time warps and even the mathematical intuition of chaos, he described the universality of language in very short essays I think he reached Wittgeinstein in a paralel string.

  78. licenciadogarufa says:

    I'm glad you read Borges. I loved the video and I'll show it my students (I am a teacher in high school).

    Every year my students read Don Quixote and then the short story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," and I emphasize how Borges destroys many of the principles on which Western philosophy (time, space and identity) is based; and also those of literature (authorship and originality): first, he destroys the idea of ​​fixed identity of a text (ie: Borges says that a text does not have a single interpretation but several, multiple, infinite); secondly, he also destroys the idea of ​​author (ie: postulates that there is no need for a particular author to write a particular work, anyone can be that author) and finally destroys the preconception of time and space and its influence on culture (a work is not the result of its historical and geographical context: a product of culture can be conceived at anytime and anywhere).

    In this way, Borges says, through fiction, in 1944, that which Julia Kristeva affirms through art theory in 1967: that all texts are the rewriting of other texts, and that literature and intertextuality are the same thing; and that the process and the historical conditions of composition of a work modify its content. The meaning of a work is a fragile thing (not a static one): It relates more to reading than writing, it is not tied to the words but to the contexts of words. Paraphrasing Borges, in this way you can read The Odyssey as if it was written later than The Aeneid, you can read Don Quixote as if it had been written by a twentieth century' French author, or you can read Don Quixote as if it had been written by a seventeenth century' Spanish author.

    According to the Argentinan writer Beatriz Sarlo (one of the sharpest critics of Borges work), to postulate all this, in the margin of the Rio de la Plata, is one of the greatest achievements of Borges: to remove the European authors from the center of the literary canon.

    If there is not such thing as original texts, if there is no pre-stablished interpretations, if all meaning comes from reading, or writing in the context, then the inferiority of margins vanishes. The peripheral writer (an Argentinan, a South American) has the same (or more) importance than his predecessors or contemporaries from Europe.

    Borges comes to put under a cloak of perspectivism the established truths of culture, literature and philosophy, and uses for that purpose what is arguably the greatest work of European literature: Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes.

    Ironizing Don Quixote, Borges makes his perspectivism is double, and their achievements are titanic: at the same time manages to parody and homage (after all, parody is the highest form of flattery) a work and an "untouchable" author; then, through his art, he manages to knock down the idea that there are interpretations, works and established authors, and suggests that any author (reader-writer) can suddenly, from the discriminated periphery, come to occupy (without asking for permission) the center of the stage among the best artists in history.

  79. bruinflight says:

    Is reading a form of writing?

    Is listening a form of composing?
    Is watching a form of video making?
    Is sitting in class as a student a form of standing in class teaching?

    And conversely,
    Is writing then a form of reading?
    Is composing then a form of listening?
    Is video making then a form of watching?

    Does this kind of thinking run the dangerous (because void and bankrupt) gauntlet which vomits us out onto vast, open and soggy planes of "Everything is Everything;" or could that result be a kind of subtle subtext critique of Borges' for un-creative and unoriginal types (Menard?) who con their way into the avant garde, or dadaism (current movements he may very well have been against as a post-modernist) by advancing claims of 'doing' with nothing substantive to show for it? Perhaps with an even more cynical, extreme application of the concept of 'plagiarism' there is a lot to be said about 'influence' as a kind of thievery; indeed, Einstein should be crucified if this is the case; but, he did not simply copy down the equations of Planc and call them his own. Furthermore, while it cannot be denied that Mathematicians 'use' the work of their predecessors, they do 'make' something new (whether Math(s) is created or discovered) when making new connections and proving old concepts. For a comprehensive investigation, the same should be considered of Brahms, or Bach, or Michelangelo. What is 'apprenticeship' after all, and what is 'education'?

    For me, Menard's endeavor comes across as a kind of 'performance piece' or even early form of 'shock jock' radio. By tearing down walls of (surely) bourgeois thinking and sensibilities Borges (through Menard) makes us question and think critically, and that is the most valuable thing a writer can do and why such a person is considered meritorious.

  80. V O I D says:

    what is the difference between this "bridge" and metamodernism

  81. brunilda12 says:

    I love Borges! And I found so weird that you americans like it! Because its a very spanish literature. And a very latin american genre, the short story

  82. Brittany Johnson says:

    See "On a winter's night a traveler" by Italo Calvino.

  83. SayWhatDayspring11 says:

    This video needed one big infographic

  84. Matt Britzius says:


  85. Dustin D says:

    Meta matters, but don't let it consume your gray matter unless you get paid.

  86. licenciadogarufa says:

    Borges is not a Magical Realist writer…

  87. David Hughes says:

    Happy Noodle Boy! Attacking all outer body functions! Fooling the stupids!

  88. Claudia ZG says:

    does somebody here know about Augusto Roa Bastos?

  89. teddy toto says:

    The act of reading is (on some level) an act of plagiarism and anachronistic.

  90. Tomas Tulara says:

    Great video, although I do not think Borges would have liked to be described as "magical realist"

  91. Cesar Alvarez says:

    Borges did not write magic realism.

  92. Belén Hernando Scocchi says:

    Ooh do Cortázar he's cool too

  93. santiago miranda says:

    When the video ended I was still reading comments. Very very cool guy anyways…

  94. ladydartz says:

    I miss this channel so much

  95. luis henrique says:


  96. Raymond Maxwell says:

    August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone sent me here.

  97. Diego Villarroel says:

    Love the analysis! But not all latin american writers are magical realists

  98. williss11 says:

    I see so the pressured and experienced helped him

  99. Bob Slartibarti says:

    Zampanó, Johnny Truant and the House on ash tree lane brought me here

  100. Gab Gallard says:

    I really liked this analysis but I don't find other episodes. Did the Book Club died after this?

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