Still ill. Worse, in fact. With the exception of a half hour spent shivering in the summery sunshine we don’t deserve in February, I’ve been laid up all day with fever and abdominal pain. There are two of me in the room now, both sitting on a bed and sipping cups of broth brought us by our identical wives. To judge by his appearance and the faces he pulls, the self in the mirror is feeling better than I am, but who can say?
On second thought, it may not have been the best idea to spend all day reading Borges. When I was a boy home from school with a fever I would lean over the edge of my bed and stare at the carpet. Fevers brought me strange powers of concentration and I was somehow able to visualize – as through an electron microscope – individual carpet fibers magnified to the height of sequoia trees. Below me was a whole forest of twisted corkscrews of steel twenty feet thick. It gave me a sick, dizzy feeling to think of them. I feel something similar reading passages like the following, from Borges’s story The Writing of the God:
‘What sort of sentence, I asked myself, would be constructed by an absolute mind? I reflected that even in the languages of humans there is no proposition that does not imply the entire universe; to say “the jaguar” is to say all the jaguars that engendered it, the deer and turtles it has devoured, the grass that fed the deer, the earth that was mother to the grass, the sky that gave light to the earth… A god, I reflected, must speak but a single word, and in that word there must be absolute plenitude. No word uttered by a god could be less than the universe, or briefer than the sum of time.’