Jorge Luis Borges



Aden Rolfe Interviews Eliot Weinberger

While the prevailing formula for the contemporary essay seems to be information plus thesis – a collection of facts held together by authorial intentions – Eliot Weinberger’s approach is striking for a deceptively simple difference. Rather than drawing conclusions for the reader, he lets information become its own argument, however oblique. The resulting essays are open-ended, riddling things, many of which gain meaning in aggregate, like those in Wildlife – whose contents correspond between the animal world and ours – and An Elemental Thing – which come together to create a ‘serial essay’.

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Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge

When we consider the Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, we inevitably find ourselves discussing not the one but the many: the various extant editions of the compendium, the versions lost to fire and flood and strife over the centuries, the diverse and sometimes contradictory volumes that have pretended to the title at one time or another.

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(f) fabulous ones

I By the time you read the word ‘pebble’ you’re already thinking ‘water’ thinking ‘skin’ thinking ‘one is not enough’. To collect something frees it from the need to be useful—gilded boats and eggplant robes, sugar dandies and scented locks— …

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(k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush

I Names change but the concept stays the same, tracks you across the valley. Night rides in on a gust star-scatter like so much porcelain. Is an alibi a deleted scene or a red thread? Dust in the pigment matted …

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(h) those that are included in this classification

I There are those which are alike in spite of appearance which share a secret affinity, an invisible harmony. But then there are those which are neither alike nor unalike that you place in separate boxes as the wind picks …

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(a) those that belong to the emperor

I There are those you expect him to own and those of which he is not yet aware those catalogued and counted and those he hasn’t thought to dream up those he tolerates on account of his daughter and those …

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