There are a surprising number of parallels in the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Jorge Luis Borges—views on the universe (infinite and incomprehensible), time (nonlinear), mirrors (abhorrent because of their reflection and duplication), God (generally absent and/or indifferent to mankind), and false creations (Lovecraft’s Necronomicon has become a real-life hrön). Besides the thematic links in their work, there existed a professional awareness. Borges was aware of Lovecraft, enough so that he construed him in an interview as a writer barely worth attention (Burgin 40), and yet dedicated a story to his memory (“There are more things” in The Book of Sand). Some scholars, generally associated with Lovecraft studies, have looked to this story for a thread between the two. Juan José Barrientos even proposes that “El Aleph” is “una especie de parodia de Lovecraft” [“a sort of parody of Lovecraft”] (443). The most serious and comprehensive comparative study to date, “Synchronistic Worlds: Lovecraft and Borges” by Barton Levi St. Armand, is an excellent examination of the universal aspects held in common by the two writers. Unfortunately, his work does not cover issues of identity. The fact remains that, while some scholarly, comparative studies have been undertaken, they are rare in Spanish, nearly nonexistent in English, and none of them appear to have covered this particular ground. In the following essay, I will concentrate on the self/Self in the short stories of Lovecraft and Borges, specifically the way in which both utilize false and fractured personalities to eventually deconstruct the possibility of a stable self.
I do not intend to prove a direct line leading from Lovecraft to Borges. The latter read too much and too widely for anyone without written evidence to be able to say “This is where he got idea x.” However, criticism on one can shed light on the other, and some areas which have not been touched by previous criticism deserve investigation. In Borgesian fashion, we can observe certain synchronicities and see some of the patterns which develop. There are several reasons why this has not yet happened.
For one, scholars tend to view Lovecraft as a horror writer. Even those who advocate the serious study of his work tend to view it through a genre lens. While horror, like comics or film before that, is no longer persona non grata in the Academy, it means that both those who embrace and those who shun horror writers inadvertently discourage the examination of Lovecraft’s work in other light, particularly the light of postmodernism.
The second reason involves both writers. This issue of identity is one that requires the examination of multiple stories. It is easier for scholars to look at a single work and critique it. To note that a character named Borges appears in multiple stories is accepted but not given much thought. I have not yet found anyone who questions which Borges appears in these stories, though the query would seem obvious after his short essay “Borges y Yo” [“Borges and I”] opens the door on multiple personalities and avatars. That being said, Ana María Barrenechea’s Borges the Labyrinth Maker does a fine job of exploring Borges’s works thematically and falls short only in its brevity regarding certain subjects.
Third, the self is generally seen in Western literary culture in a Freudian sense. While aspects of a person may change, that person’s identity remains unique. However, Jungian or even Buddhist or Schöpenhauerian views of the individual—a view in which all beings are interconnected—are far more appropriate to these stories. Though the culture of Freud has certainly cracked in the world of psychology, those of us in literary studies often lack the tools to re-examine identity in these and other authors. An attempt to find Buddhist underpinnings in some of Lovecraft’s stories was undertaken by Walter Mosig and, later, Ester Rochon, and this attempt should be applied to Borges as well. Borges himself frequently references Schöpenhauer regarding a pantheistic view of Self, and this lens should also be applied to Lovecraft. I believe that the extensive “Orientalist” research of both authors, for better or worse in other contexts, demands a closer look from the big-S Self perspective.
A Few Definitions
To this point, I have already used some terms that may not be familiar to the reader. Without belaboring the point, I think it appropriate to review exactly what I mean in this essay by such terms as self/Self, bodies, identities, and avatars.
The lowercase “self” refers to an individual personality, a unique set of mental and emotional characteristics that make up a person. The self is independent of the body and is analogous to the Freudian combination of ego, id, superego, as well as the Judeo-Christian concept of “soul.”
The “body-self” refers to the combination of self and the physical form with which we most commonly identify it. For example, we meet Borges and address his body as “Borges.” Even were we to write a letter or call him on the phone, our concept of interaction requires that there is a somehow recognizable and stable body in which the self resides. The body may go through changes over time, but does so in a logical way. Note that in magical realism, what is logical is not necessarily what is mundane. For example, if Borges were to begin growing feathers and eventually look like a large chicken, the changes would be logical (if we accept that a human being could begin to grow feathers in the first place) and consistent, preserving the body-self. An instantaneous change into a bird, on the other hand, would imply a different body.
This exact problem, however, arises in fiction, and especially the fiction of Borges and Lovecraft, in which bodies may be exchanged, multiplied, or done away with completely. If Borges’s mind suddenly inhabited the body of a lemur (and vice versa), we would likely follow the hierarchy of self over body and address the lemur’s body as “Borges.” This leads us to the concept of avatars.
An “avatar” is any physical incarnation of a self. This is not synonymous with body-self. The body-self is the most common or best recognized avatar. In the example above, we would acknowledge (at a particular time period) the blind human being as the body-self, and the lemur to be an avatar. As time and space break down for Borges and Lovecraft, however, the concept of body-self becomes increasingly difficult and useless (or at least viewed as illusory) and the concept of avatars increasingly useful and applicable.
Finally, the uppercase “Self” which comes into play later in the essay is similar to a Jungian or a Buddhist or a Schöpenhauerian conception of interrelatedness. All existence is linked to all existence. In the grand picture, there is no individual. The Self is all beings at all times in all places. There are no such things as charity or murder because there is no Other to be charitable to nor murder. Questions such as “Is the self at seventy years old the same as the self at two years old?” no longer matter, because the self as such does not exist. This is the position at which Borges and Lovecraft ultimately arrive, albeit problematically.
To reach this point, however, there are four barriers to the deconstruction of the self which Borges and Lovecraft break down. The first is the barrier between dream and reality. The second is inherent truthfulness in representation of the self. The third barrier is the persistence of the self over time. The fourth is the singularity and unique nature of the self. Taking each in turn, we will see how Borges and Lovecraft deconstruct/destruct the concept of self and move towards a vision of Self.
The First Barrier: The Red King’s Dream
The first barrier is that of inside/outside, specifically manifested in the form of dream/reality. For this purpose, I will draw on “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” by Lovecraft and “The Circular Ruins” by Borges.
In “Kadath,” the character Randolph Carter makes his third appearance in Lovecraft’s stories. Previously, he was the narrator of two stock horror tales, but here he is a dream-adventurer who goes on an epic quest to find a dream-city stolen from him by the Gods. He literally travels through the realms of his and others’ dreams in search of this city. Along the way he interacts with various characters and places mentioned in some of Lovecraft’s other stories. In “Ruins,” Borges presents us with an unnamed man who sets out to dream a human being into existence. He succeeds in doing so, only to discover at the end of the story that he himself was dreamed into existence by another.
The question of whether the waking or dreaming state is reality is an ancient one. The most common retelling goes, more or less, “I dreamed I was a butterfly. Now am I awake, or am I a butterfly now dreaming that I am a human?” In any event, the question presupposes a binary relationship and an eventual truth: that one state is a dream and one is the “real world.”
Borges plays into this binary opposition and adds one of his favorite paradoxes: the play within a play. The man in “Ruins” features as the main character. We assume his reality because he interacts with other human beings. He then dreams into existence another being. We do not have to ask whether or not this second being is real, because we are told that it, too, interacts with humans in the man’s world. The first question, rather, is whether or not this created being has a self. The second question is whether or not this matters.
Let us look at the second question first. The creator discovers at the end of the story that he himself is just a dream. We are presented with the unsettling potential that we are all someone else’s dream. And as Tweedle-Dum asks Alice, what would happen if that someone (let us call her/him the alpha dreamer, although we admit that this dreamer might also be dreamed by another) stopped dreaming about us? More pertinent to this essay, are all of the man’s thoughts a byproduct of the alpha dreamer?
The man could state “Cogito, ergo sum.” His very creation of another being through thought should prove that he has a self. But Borges has cleverly introduced a mirror into the story that tampers with our ability to determine whether or not the man really thinks. Recall that he made a deal with a fire god in order to give life to his creation, which rendered the creation immune to fire. Recall that he himself is immune to fire. Recall that the man and his creation occupy similar positions in the jungle. Consider that they are simply iterations. Or, to use a technological metaphor, the man is essentially a computer program who copies himself, not an individual. Thus, the dreamed is not a self. Considering that the alpha dreamer may also be a dreamed being, all reality, and thus all selves, are called into question.
A parallel may be drawn from “Ruins” to one of Lovecraft’s phrases: “inward dreaming.” As Burleson points out, “this phrase suggests the symmetric possibility of outward dreaming . . . not only does the difference between dreaming and ‘waking reality’ not matter—the suggestions is that perhaps it does not even exist” (9). This “outward dreaming” seems to be exactly what the alpha dreamer does in Borges’s short story.
Lovecraft explores an equally convoluted situation. In “Kadath,” Carter encounters a ghoul who used to be a man, the artist Richard Upton Pickman. Pickman was first introduced to the reader in a previous tale, based in the real world and involving a narrator who was not Carter. Pickman and the other ghouls interact with the real world. Carter travels through a country called Ulthar, also presented as part of the real world in a previous story. There are several interesting problems here.
One, Lovecraft envisions the boundary between dreams and the waking world to be a semi-physical entity, crossable through force of will and arcane knowledge. That is to say, he has done away with the binary opposition between dream and reality. The two elements are not mutually exclusive. The philosopher is both a philosopher and a butterfly, one form perhaps preferred, but neither one inherently more real than the other.
Carter does not suffer from the same problem as the man in “Ruins.” He knows that he exists, but he exists simultaneously in two places—the dream world and the real world, having presumably left his real body behind. Yet conceivably he is able to visit it in his dreamed body, as could the ghouls.
Two, if we are to accept the above statement, we must accept that the interactions between the dream world and reality are in fact “real” and not just an additional facet of Carter’s dream. The fact of the matter is that we are unable to do so. We are in a closed system, and as Gödel points out, there are certain types of knowledge which are beyond reach from inside the system. This is part of the point. Reality and dream cannot be separated. Rochon provides us with two pertinent quotes from Buddhist sources here. From “The Seven Points of Mind Training” by Atisha, a set of about sixty aphorisms used by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the second aphorism tells us, “Regard all dharma [phenomena] as dreams” (13). Another teacher, Padmasambhava, instructs, “All appearances are verily one’s own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections seen in a mirror” (13). All these various sources, Lovecraft, Borges, Gödel, Atisha, and Padmasambhava, tell us that we cannot really know what is dream (imagined) and what is waking (actually perceived), nor if there is a difference between the two. If the inside and outside of the mind cannot be distinguished, what is the defining line for the body-self?
The Second Barrier: What Happens When You Assume
The second barrier of the self is the notion that we are who we say we are. Borges and Lovecraft tackle this misconception in their own disconcerting manners.
Borges’s fiction has several characters who pretend to be someone who they are not: Vincent Moon in “The Shape of the Sword” and Red Sharlach in “Death and the Compass” come to mind as obvious charlatans. In the first case, the deception is a result of a guilty conscience, a ploy to keep the listener (a character named Borges) listening through to the end of the story. In the latter, the deception is a trap, intended to ensnare an overly intellectual detective.
Lovecraft’s stories also contain characters who put on masks: Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Ephraim/Asenath Waite in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” and the Outer Ones in “The Whisperer in Darkness.” What is especially interesting about all three cases is that they are accompanied by “demonic” possession. Joseph Curwen is a dead necromancer who possesses the body of his descendent Charles Ward. He then proceeds to dupe Ward’s friends and family into believing that he is in fact the young man. Ephraim Waite forcibly switches selves with his own daughter, acts as a woman, marries Edward Derby, and proceeds to posses his body (resulting in Ephraim-in-Edward’s-body and Edward-in-Asenath’s-body). The Outer Ones, a group of extraterrestrials who are not so much malicious as malignantly indifferent to mankind, vivisect one Henry Akeley and use his body in such a way as to lure his correspondent, the narrator, into a false sense of security. In all these cases, assumption of a false self accompanies the assumption of another’s body-self.
Note that in four of the five examples, a “real” person is displaced. Only in the case of Scharlach as Ginzberg is the assumed personality utterly false. In the others, the assumption of an individual’s self is concurrent with that individual’s death. What does this tell us about the sanctity of the self for Borges and Lovecraft?
We learn two important things from these examples. One, to pretend to be another is a negative act. None of the characters presented have good intentions for assuming a false personality. Two, the question of fluidity of self has been raised again. If Vincent Moon had not told his story and admitted to being Vincent Moon in “The Shape of the Sword,” how would we have known that he was not, in fact, someone else? It is possible that Sharlach could have indefinitely become Ginzberg, a character who never existed at all. And in the case of “The Thing on the Doorstep,” one of the crowning horrors is the realization that Asenath, one of the main characters and the villainess throughout the story, has never actually been in the story. Instead, her body has been operated by Ephraim’s self the entire time.
Both authors present this body-self masquerade in a negative light. Why negative? Because the intentional misleading of others regarding body-self prompts the question: how can we know who is who? Furthermore, these cases answer the question: without luck on our part or an admission on the part of the masked self, we cannot.
Dirk W. Mosig leads us to another interpretation, however:
According to the Buddha, the idea of a personal or separate self is a delusion with no corresponding reality. “It results in harmful thoughts of ‘me,’ and ‘mine,’ selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. . . .” In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world. (99)
From the Buddhist perspective, the very act of claiming a self is wrong. From this viewpoint, the possession of Asenath by Ephraim is a symptom of a larger wrong, an earlier misunderstanding regarding the nature of the self. Vincent Moon cannot really pretend to be someone else, because he already is that someone. We have moved from the realm of wrongdoing to simple paradox. We will come back to this paradox and what it means to participants in the fiction of Lovecraft and Borges later.
The examples thus far have dealt with physical displacements. But what do Borges and Lovecraft have to say on the matter of time and the self?
The Third Barrier: The Sphinx’s Riddle
In the definitions for this essay, I claimed that physical changes can occur in a body and still render it recognizable as a particular body. Gradual change, in fact, is a natural element of a human body. Similarly, we expect gradual, or at least logical, change in the self over a period of time. We can draw a before/after line in a child’s life at the moment s/he touches a hot stove for the first time. The child before is one who has no qualms about touching a stove. The child after is one who would go to great lengths not to touch a stove. Are these the same self?
The immediate answer is that yes, they are. It would be silly to think that every minor experience invalidates the previous self and creates a new one. But as we consider the question, the idea that these are not the same selves makes more sense. In fact, we might even say after a traumatic experience, “X just wasn’t the same after that.”
Borges engages this problem in his short story “The Other.” Here, through a quirk of the universe, he literally meets a younger version of himself on the street and has a conversation. First, let us notice that he has refuted the notion of linear time without even calling attention to the fact. Two individuals (the same individual?) from different time periods are conversing. One of the first things they do is establish that one is not dreaming the other. Given our findings previously in this essay, we might say that their conclusion to the contrary is suspect. For the sake of argument, however, let us agree that they are in fact conversing.
The elder version of Borges finally realizes he “no podíamos engañarnos, lo cual hace difícil el diálogo. Cada uno de los dos era el remedo caricaturesco del otro” [“we could not deceive one another, making dialogue difficult. Each of us was the parodic caricature of the other”] (El Libro de Arena 15). All this is to say that even having experienced the life of the younger, the elder version of Borges can no longer comprehend him. If they cannot understand each other and must treat each other as Other, the two must be different selves. But this doesn’t fit perfectly, either.
The two are linked, yet we cannot say that they are the same. They are different, but we cannot completely separate them. This dichotomy of self across time brings us closer to the concept of the Self. Lovecraft shines some light on this problem.
Lovecraft’s fourth installment of the Randolph Carter cycle, “The Silver Key,” focuses on Carter’s attempt to regain his childhood. After succumbing to the real world and its lack of dreams, Carter pursues and meets with an ancestor in a dream who tells him of a silver key hidden in the attic. Upon taking this key to his old family lands, Carter suddenly finds himself ten years old again. Not only ten years old, but ten years old, in the past, and with no conscious knowledge that he has traveled back in time.
Carter’s fifty-year-old self has performed a ritual to enter the body of his ten-year-old self. The ten-year-old self is not displaced, however. Rather, the fifty-year-old Carter seems to exist on a subconscious level, modifying the younger Carter’s self. This is especially evident given that action taken by the young Carter the very day “after” the synthesis. Without knowing why nor how, he seeks out a rock cleft and performs another ritual with the key. The culmination of this ritual, and of the Randolph Carter cycle, conclude in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” which also completes Lovecraft’s journey from self to Self.
The Fourth Barrier: All as One and One as All
In “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” Carter completes his ritual with the silver key, proceeds through a series of gates guarded by the Ancient Ones, and makes the final discovery: he is but one avatar of an infinite being. “On Earth, on October 7, 1883, a little boy named Randolph Carter was leaving the Snake Den . . . yet at that same moment, which was also somehow in the earthly year of 1928, a vague shadow not less Randolph Carter was sitting on a pedestal among the Ancient Ones in Earth’s transdimensional extension.” And these are but two of the avatars. He goes on to discover “Carters in settings belonging to every known and suspected age of Earth’s history . . . Carters of forms both human and non-human, vertebrate and invertebrate, conscious and mindless . . . Carters having nothing in common with earthly life, but moving outrageously amidst backgrounds of other planets and systems and galaxies . . .” (Dreams of Terror and Death 370).
In a sublimely Borgesian moment (predating Borges, which in and of itself might also be called Borgesian), Carter realizes that “Merging with nothingness is peaceful oblivion; but to be aware of existence and yet to know that one is no longer a definite being distinguished from other beings—that one no longer has a self—that is the nameless summit of agony and dread” (371, italics Lovecraft’s).
Compare this reaction to that of Aurelian in “The Theologians”: “en el paraíso, Aureliano supo que para la insondable divinidad, él y Juan de Panonia (el ortodoxo y el hereje, el aborrecedor y el aborrecido, el acusador y la víctima) formaban una sola persona” [“In Paradise, Aurelian learned that, for the unfathomable divinity, he and John of Pannonia (the orthodox believer and the heretic, the abhorrer and the abhorred, the accuser and the accused) formed one single person”] (El Aleph 45). Borges has taken the opposite direction in this story. Rather than infinitely multiplying Aurelian, he has infinitely reduced him.
Infinite reduction and infinite multiplication are the same thing, though, as Borges concludes in “The Immortal.” Here Homer lives an infinitely long life, during which he can live every kind of life, be every kind of person. Homer is deified into every person. At the same time, every person is reduced to Homer. The self as an individual entity is no more. “Soy dios, soy héroe, soy filósofo, soy demonio y soy mundo, lo cual es una fatigosa manera de decir que no soy” [“I am a god, I am hero, I am a philosopher, I am a demon and I am a world, which is an exhausting way to say that I’m not”] (21). Barrechenea points out that this vision mimics that expressed in “The Cyclical Night” and “The Writing of the God” (89).
These explicit situations, in both Lovecraft and Borges, open a gate to a disturbing possibility. If Carter is many Carters, if Carter can be an insect from Yaddith and simultaneously a man from Earth, if he can be these things and yet be unaware of the fact, Carter can be every character in every story. If there is no difference in the eyes of God between Aurelian and John of Pannonia, between the opposite sides of a coin, what difference can there be between two things not even opposite? All men who speak a line of Shakespeare are Shakespeare. Homer is infinite and thus nothing. Both authors, through infinite multiplication and reduction, have negated the individual and separate self and replaced it with the Self.
Fear and Loathing in Las Cuentas: Reactions to the Self
I said at the beginning of this essay that the concept of Self utilized by Lovecraft and Borges approximates the Buddhist concept of interrelatedness. There is a problem with this analogy, however. In Buddhism, with the recognition of the illusion of the self comes understanding and peace. This recognition generally comes after a lifetime of study and meditation. For the characters in both Borges’s and Lovecraft’s fiction, however, recognition generally comes as a shock, no matter how well the characters think they have prepared for it.
In “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” for example, Carter decides to enter the body of an insectoid magician named Zkauba from the planet Yaddith. The first thing we should notice is that he has not in fact reached enlightenment. Were this the case, he would no longer distinguish between his own consciousness and that of Zkauba. Failing to realize this, however, he spends the remainder of the story in a battle over control of the body (incidentally, Zkauba is not enlightened, either, and disgusted at the presence of this mammalian mind within his body). For all his studies, despite knowing that he is an avatar of the Ultimate Being in the universe, Carter (and thus all humanity) is unable to fully comprehend the nature of the Self.
Another of Barrenechea’s observations on Borges is applicable to Lovecraft in this scenario. “Borges . . . is seduced by the power of joining the strong contrast of everything-nothing in a single phrase and of quickly passing from fullness to a complete vacuum” (90). While Carter does not enter a vacuum of nonexistence or oblivion, he does suffer a crisis of identity and quickly passes from an awareness of all beings to a reduced awareness in which he is not fully in control of his “own” body.
Do Borges’s characters fare any better? If we return to the man in “The Circular Ruins,” he understands his fate “con alivio, con humillación, con terror” [“with relief, with humiliation, with terror”], but the story goes no further than his revelation (Ficciones 66). His lack of self is not explored. We do not learn Aurelian’s reaction to the discovery that, to God, he and John of Pannonia are the same.
The closest we come, in fact, to discovering the personal reaction to the Self is in the characters named Borges. Daniel Balderson points out in The Literary Universe of Jorge Luis Borges that the individual most commonly named is Borges himself (xvii). Yet this Borges is not always the same Borges. Borges is often the name of a narrator, or one to whom a story is told. But let us look especially at his famous essay “Borges and I.”
This essay is generally recognized as metaphoric. “The other one” to whom he refers is conceived as his public image, that aspect of him which writes. Yet he questions, even in something so transparent, “si es que alguien soy” [“if, indeed, I am anybody at all”] (“Borges y yo”). He laments that he tried to free himself from this other Borges and was unable. Within his own body, he recognizes that there is more than one self, and his terminology seems to imply that this is more than just a question of Jungian personae. By his very reactions, flight, feelings of loss, he obviously does not embrace the Self. There is still a latent desire in him to claim a self, to resist becoming part of the collective Self. As opposed to the fear present in Carter, Borges meets this inevitability with a sigh.
Finally, it is interesting to note some numerical figures. Norman R. Gayford finds that in fifty-six stories by Lovecraft, fully twenty-six of them have first-person anonymous narrators, that is to say, narrators who could be anyone (13). Another thirteen stories are narrated by eight different first-person “defined” identities, but consider that among these are Randolph Carter, the Delapore who narrates “The Rats in the Walls,” and Nathanial Wingate Peaslee. We have examined Carter in detail, Delapore slips through a number of languages (and personalities) at the end of his story, and Peaslee is very specifically the subject of a body exchange in “The Shadow Out Of Time.” There is certainly more to explore in this vein, then, than the Randolph Carter cycle.
Besides himself, the most-mentioned characters in Borges’s works are: “God, Jesus Christ, and then, in descending order, Shakespeare, Schöpenhauer, Cervantes, Plato, Virgil, Quevedo, Whitman, Homer, Milton, Poe, Lugones, Dante, Stevenson . . .” (Balderston 50). Of these fifteen individuals, I can immediately identify six of them as somehow associated with multiple selves or avatars. God and Jesus Christ are part of the Christian Trinity, as well as being divine and human avatars of what is supposed to be the same deity. Shakespeare is Borges’s well-known “everyman.” Schöpenhauer was a proponent of the Self. Cervantes’s most famous character, Don Quixote, was a schizophrenic and possibly subject to demonic possession (Kallendorf). Whitman famously stated “I am large. I contain multitudes.” Homer acts as another “everyman” in “The Immortal.” Dante forms the split between Dante the Poet (who is writing the Commedia) and Dante the Pilgrim (who is participating in it). I believe that research into the other individuals will find that a sizeable portion have some kind of representation of multiple selves or avatars.
H. P. Lovecraft and Jorge Luis Borges inexorably disassemble the concept of a unique, unchanging self in their fiction. By interrupting time and space, introducing the element of untruth, and blurring the line between dream and reality, they reveal that the popular notion of self is an illusion. They each plant these seeds in characters that appear in multiple stories, thereby repudiating their solidity even in a bibliographic sense. Furthermore, while introducing this fact, they highlight humanity’s inability to comprehend and accept the deconstruction of the self. The reason why they cannot take the final step is a topic for another essay, but perhaps G. M. Goloboff comes close when he says of Borges “La fama alcanzada, y hasta las glorias literarias, le hicieron sentir, y aun predicar, que como Homero, Shakespare o Whitman, era todos y Nadie. Su propia literature, en cambio, es la única que, en el proceso de dibujar al mundo, puede también dibujarlo” [“The fame he achieved, and even the literary glories, made him feel, and even proclaim, that like Homer, Whitman Shakespeare, he was everyone and no one. His own literature, however, is the only one that, in the process of drawing the world, can also draw him”] (69, italics Goloboff’s). While they explore, intentionally or not, the Postmodern Self (which is, after all, not so different from nihilism), both are rooted so firmly in the need for identity (specifically the ability to identify with a glorious literary past and to make their own), they cannot portray this Self except as an inevitable power, a horror, a set of facing mirrors.
JeFF Stumpo lives in Martin, Tennessee.
A PDF copy of the NYRSF issue in which this article first appeared is available for purchase at Weightless Books.
A print edition of Issues 293 and 294 is available from
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