The Poetics of Impermenance: Jorge Luis Borges on the perception of time, learning and reading

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Jorge Luis Borges was a famous writer, essayist, and poet from Argentina. His first poem, ‘Hymn to the Sea,’ was published in the magazine Grecia. Today, he is recognized as one of the most influential figures in Argentinian literature. With wild imagination and innovative literary skills, he left his mark in the world literature as well – especially after receiving the first International Publishers’ Prize, the Prix Formentor in 1961. As fluent in many different languages, he was greatly influenced by European culture. What’s noticeable in his work is how he was preoccupied with the theme of time: the fictional world he was creating was very much inspired by esoteric readings in literature, philosophy, and theology.  In the universe of energy, mass, and speed of light, for him, the central question is time, not space. (source)

He writes:

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.

The impermanence of time and things was always a food for thought for him and a greatest value he saw in it, is an opportunity for learning, maturing and really living life:

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

He openly showed his love for reading and books.

Personally, I am a hedonistic reader; I have never read a book merely because it was ancient. I read books for the aesthetic emotions they offer me, and I ignore the commentaries and criticism.

Let others pride themselves about how many pages they have written; I’d rather boast about the ones I’ve read.

For every aspiring writer, is a prerequisite to be an avid reader – as from there, every emotion “read” and lived is a fertile soil for every future work. With each reading, book gains new meaning and offers completely new reality:

A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.

I think that the reader should enrich what he is reading. He should misunderstand the text; he should change it into something else.

For further diving into the topic of reading and its importance in our lives I recommend:

Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

Lean leader is a poetry reader.

How often do you read and what’s your favorite book? Please, share in the comments below.


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Uncharted waters of poetry-based learning

franBG

Arts-based learning is a different way of acquiring new knowledge about non-art topics like leadership, innovation and management in business. It can include any type of art form such as painting, performance, storytelling, music or poetry.

Art is that invisible force that inspires us to pause, to slow down racing thoughts and explore other sources of information. By putting a side our rational thinking we open doors for higher realms of awareness and wisdom, giving us insights we couldn’t recognize earlier.

One of the most beneficial attributes of arts-based learning is that it fosters co-creative spirit, where with joined strengths is much easier to find a solution or accept change in responsive way. This type of activities can accelerate the process of finding shared values and creating trust among co-workers. Arts-based learning has been also seen as a vehicle for enhancing intercultural communication, with more than 400 of America’s Fortune 500 companies using artistic skills, processes and experiences to foster creative thinking and strengthen innovation processes.

If you approach life like an artist you are developing skills:

to observe the world in different light; to better use available resources;to follow your instincts; to pursue your passion; to explore your own innovative thinking; to find connections among unrelated events and elements;to take risks and become more empathetic and understanding.

In my previous posts I gave a glimpse on how poetry can help us in strategic thinking, storytelling, intercultural communication, building business ethics, decision making, advertising and how it fosters innovation, leadership and creativity. But there are ohter ways how poetry can enhance our learning abilities. Monika Kostera in her paper “Performatives: Collecting Poetical Definitions of Management’, Organization, 4(3), p. 343, 1997, examines the relationship between feelings and organizational skills through the lens of poetry. She argues that we can use poetry to learn more about the subversive and subjective experience of talking about management topics. In her opinion, poetry is particularly powerful in that it does not avoid passion and it is disruptive because it is inconclusive.

In another very interesting paper, “Voice, Verse and Va va voom: Illuminating Management processes through Poetry”, Grisoni and Kirk (2006) explored the power of using poetry as a critical analytical tool. Two members of organization have written poems about their experiences in relation to decision-making critical incidents within the life of organization. They reported that writing in the form of poetry enabled them to find a voice, increased personal learning, and new insights in relation to roles, management processes of decision-making, and interpersonal dynamics in the organisation.

But this is not where the power of poetry-based learning ends: it can help us further in learning about:

  • Systems thinking;
  • Values creation and contribution;
  • Managing change;
  • New product development;
  • Branding;
  • Acquiring tacit knowledge;
  • Improving collaboration and teamwork;
  • Role-playing and improving communications,

which all these topics will be further explored in the posts to come.

For now I will live with some thoughts by Jose Rizal:

Education Gives Luster To Motherland (an excerpt)

Where wise education raises a throne
Sprightly youth are invigorated,
Who with firm stand error they subdue
And with noble ideas are exalted;
It breaks immortality’s neck,
Contemptible crime before it is halted:
It humbles barbarous nations
And it makes of savages champions.
And like the spring that nourishes
The plants, the bushes of the meads,
She goes on spilling her placid wealth,
And with kind eagerness she constantly feeds,
The river banks through which she slips,
And to beautiful nature all she concedes,
So whoever procures education wise
Until the height of honor may rise.