Time After Time
In his 1978 lecture “Immortality,” Jorge Luis Borges makes the typically astute observation that “Immortality is in the memory of others and in the work we leave behind.” He goes on to share an unforgettable anecdote about how his mother told him that whenever he recited English poems, he did so in the very voice of his father, who had died in 1938, so that: “When I recite Shakespeare, my father is living in me. The people who have heard me will live in my voice, which is a reflection of a voice that was, perhaps, a reflection of the voice of its elders.”
Ever the master of connectivity, Borges proposes further that “what matters is that immortality is obtained in works, in the memory that one leaves in others,” and concludes with the embracingly humane view that “I believe in immortality, not in the personal but in the cosmic sense. We will keep on being immortal. Beyond our physical death, our memory will remain and beyond our memory will remain our actions, our circumstances, our attitudes, all that marvelous part of universal history.”
Borges’s immortality, cosmic or otherwise, seems more assured than ever, and tonight through his words and ideas we have a chance to understand once more what we’ve inherited from him.