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Library: The Lottery In Babylon, Jorge Luis Borges

UPDATE Some questions we could use in our discussion.  Bring your own if you want.  


Time to try another Intensive-style meeting!  The "Library" format doesn't require much explanation:  we will discuss a short reading, and see where the discussion goes from there.

You thought we didn't have to read?  Well, this is not a Salon, though the reading is about the only difference.  Also the text is very short–only took me 30 minutes.  The principal excuse for skirting the no-reading premise of the group, though, is that it is FICTION:  this is a short story, not a philosophical essay.  Or maybe it is an essay disguised as a fantasy, but in any case it's very open to interpretation, as Borges is a writer who embraces the "character of unreality in all literature."

If you are not already familiar with this piece, I suggest scheduling a couple readings:  how about this weekend and next?  Don't worry about looking up the literary references it makes, just enjoy and reflect.  As it is fantasy fiction, the most productive attitude to take is to take it at face value, rather than trying to poke holes in it.  That is how we will discuss it, anyway.

The full text is online:  The Lottery of Babylon.  Published in 1941.  Most of Borges' works (all short form) were translated to English in the 1960s.

I'm looking forward to our first "Library" meeting!


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  • Jay C.

    I found the TED talk about New Yorker cartoon humor that Satya mentioned.

    August 14, 2013

  • Dean Paul D.

    Thank you for renewing my interest in Borges. I uploaded photos from my Latin American companion book that discuss Borges' contribution to Latin American philosophy. Hopefully the images are readable and can promote further discussion.

    1 · August 14, 2013

    • Jeff G

      I could read them, and found them worthwhile. Coincidentally, the Borges story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Don Quixote" has already made an appearance on this site:­ !

      August 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry I can't make it this time after all. Maybe next time!

    August 11, 2013

  • Dean Paul D.

    Would prefer to carpool with somebody, I am coming from Union City. If interested please call me at[masked]

    August 7, 2013

  • Satya M.

    I like the idea of staying with a reading and this one will be broadening things into some unusual places. I have studied and read many of his pieces and his life, all unusual and most interesting. See you soon!

    August 4, 2013

  • Jennifer

    Rats, sorry I thought I would be in town but now realize I'll be out of town. But suffice to say, I can't wait to join this great group. I've been traveling a lot, but will be more rooted in SF/Berk from ~Sep 1.... See you soon (after that)!

    August 3, 2013

  • Jay C.

    Ah, we are into Parables !

    And a conspiracy theory to boot ! Who doesn't love conspiracy theories ?

    August 3, 2013

    • Jeff G

      Parables might be the first step toward abstract thinking.
      The evolution of conspiracy theories is an interesting topic!

      August 3, 2013

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