Making My Day, One Borges Story At A Time

Ran across this video on YouTube today which consists of some (ir)relevant images timed to the reading of one of my favorite Borges’ stories by Borges himself*. Here’s the video and an English translation of the story below:

From A Universal History of Infamy:

“Of Exactitude in Science

…In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography.

From Travels of Praiseworthy Men (1658) by J. A. Suarez Miranda”

* It occurs to me that it is likely the the reading is by another, some random fan. I do not know Borges’ voice well (although, in another sense, I know his voice all too well). And yet, I do not think it matters. “O Destino de Borges, tal vez no más extraño que el tuyo…”



  1. A favorite. Thanks Dan!

  2. It is Borges. See

    Incidentally, my Spanish is not great but if I’ve heard correctly why is “entendieron que… era inútil” (“they understood that it was useless”) translated “they judged it cumbersome?” Useless is a much different critique than cumbersome.

  3. I think there is a sense in which “inútil” is less harsh than the English “useless”. It’s more like “not useful”. The translation is nowhere near exact – for example “menos adicta” translates as “less attentive” rather than “less addicted”. Why? Dunno. It works though, and I know Borges collaborated/approved of most of the English translations of his works (although I don’t know for sure about this piece).

    In other Borges news, Ferguson cites “Garden of the Forking Paths” totally unnecessarily on page 111 of “The Ascent of Money”. I note this only because I completely approve, and hope to someday cite Borges in my published works (much as I did for the first page of a term paper on Foucault and Discourse this past term…).