Borges on Divine Things

Ferrari: But we could say that in all poetry there’s an approximation to something else, beyond the words and the subject matter.

Borges: Well, language does not match up to the complexity of things. I think that the philosopher Whitehead talks of the paradox of the perfect dictionary, that is, the idea of supposing that all the words that a dictionary registers exhaust reality. Chesterton also wrote about this, saying that it is absurd to suppose that all the nuances of human consciousness, which are more vast than a jungle, can be contained in a mechanical system of grunts which would be, in this case, the words spoken by a stockbroker. That’s absurd and yet people talk of a perfect language, of a rich language, but in comparison to our consciousness language is very poor. I think that somewhere Stevenson says that what happens in ten minutes exceeds all Shakespeare’s vocabulary [laughs]. I believe it’s the same idea.

"In March 1984, Jorge Luis Borges began a series of radio 'dialogues' with the Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari. Forty-five of them have just been translated into English for the first time by Jason Wilson and will be published this month by Seagull Books as Conversations, Volume 1. What follows is Borges’s conversation with Ferrari about the existence of God." - NY Review of Books -