Last summer in Mexico: Borges & art, or how I wrote Don Quixote

I spent three weeks in the Yucatan and no distractions from reading last summer. The sun and solitude were healing me from a cold, rainy, and somewhat traumatic (though key!) time at Norfolk. I read a few Borges stories while I was there, and I have been thinking about that experience a lot lately.

I think that Borges is related to how I feel about painting and making in general. He is always slippery with his language in a deliberate way, and he thinks extremely precisely about the way he wants words to create meaning.

It’s a lot of convincing. And a convincing where it does not matter if you are not accurate (for example, he will change dates for no apparent reason) because a creative product should be its own thing. I never had a problem with his slippery language, or his changing of dates or those kinds of things because I really believe in made things, the same way I mentioned I believe in painting or video art. I thought Borges’ moves were moves to make me consider his work as art.

It was art even if he didn’t make it himself. A professor recommended that I read the Pierre Menard story in relation to a gallery project I was working on, where I hired actors to play artists in a show that I had made all the work for. I wanted to see if I could convince people and myself that objects are divorced from their makers. (I am still thinking about this project, its failures and stakes).

It’s funny because I don’t think I want to make art that converts people. (I don’t really like art that tells me how to think or feel, but I guess that’s just a personal preference.) Right now I think it’s more important to aim to make things that I could believe in myself.