Like most literary geeks, I’ve read a lot of Jorge Luis Borges. If you haven’t, look into the influences of your favorite writers, and you may find the Argentine short-story craftsman appearing with Beatles-like frequency. Indeed, Borges’ body of work radiates inspiration far beyond the realm of the short story, and even beyond literature as commonly practiced. Creators from David Foster Wallace to Alex Cox to W.G. Sebald to the Firesign Theater have all, from their various places on the cultural landscape, freely admitted their Borgesian leanings. That Borges’ stories — or, in the more-encompassing term adherents prefer to use, his “fictions” — continue to provide so much fuel to so many imaginations outside his time and tradition speaks to their simultaneous intellectual richness and basic, precognitive impact. Perhaps “The Garden of Forking Paths” or “The Aleph” haven’t had that impact on you, but they’ve surely had it on an artist you enjoy.
Now, thanks to UbuWeb, you can not only read Borges, but hear him as well. They offer MP3s of Borges’ complete Norton Lectures, which the writer gave at Harvard University in the fall of 1967 and the spring of 1968: