Borges and God


Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari in the NYRB blog (Ferdinando Scianna/Magnum Photos):

Osvaldo Ferrari: Many people still ask whether Borges believes in God, because at times they feel he does and at times that he doesn’t.

Jorge Luis Borges: If God means something in us that strives for good, yes. If he’s thought of as an individual being, then no, I don’t believe. I believe in an ethical proposition, perhaps not in the universe but in each one of us. And if I could I would add, like Blake, an aesthetic and an intellectual proposition but with reference to individuals again. I’m not sure it would apply to the universe. I remember Tennyson’s line: “Nature red in tooth and claw.” He wrote that because so many people talked about a gentle Nature.

Ferrari: What you have just said confirms my impression that your possible conflict about belief or disbelief in God has to do with the possibility that God may be just or unjust.

Borges: Well, I think that it’s enough to glance at the universe to note that justice certainly does not rule. I recall a line from Almafuerte: “With delicate art, I spread a caress on every reptile, I did not think justice was necessary when pain rules everywhere.” In another line, he says, “All I ask is justice / but better to ask for nothing.” Already to ask for justice is to ask for much, too much.

Ferrari: Yet, you also recognize in the world the existence of happiness—in a library, perhaps, but other kinds of happiness too.

Borges: That, yes, of course. I would say that happiness can be momentary but that it also happens frequently, it can happen, for instance, even in our dialogue.

More here.