Chapter Two Was Borges a mystic, and does it matter?
The range of mystical experience is very wide, much too wide for us to cover in the time at our disposal. — William James, Varieties of Religious Experience Knowledge of God, the realization of one’s union with God, in a word, mysticism, is necessary. — Alan Watts, Behold the Spirit Borges repeatedly denied being a mystic: Many people have thought of me as a thinker, as a philosopher, or even as a mystic. […] People think that I’ve committed myself to idealism, to solipsism, or to doctrines of the cabala, because I’ve used them in my tales. But really I was only trying to see what could be done with them. (Burgin 1998: 79) At the same time, he recognized that he experienced two mystical states in his life: In my life I only had two mystical experiences and I can’t tell them because what happened is not to be put in words, since words, after all, stand for a shared experi- ence. And if you have not had the experience you can’t share it – as if you were to talk about the taste of cof fee and had never tried cof fee. Twice in my life I had a feeling, a feeling rather agreeable than otherwise. It was astonishing, astounding. I was overwhelmed, taken aback. I had the feeling of living not in time but outside time. It may have been a minute or so, it may have been longer. […] Somehow the feeling came over me that I was living beyond time,...
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