21 June 2014

A Chinese Taxonomy According to Borges

Posted by David Lea

Irrelevantly, I was unable to sleep last night before I'd reminded myself of Borges's faux Chinese taxonomy:

(a) Those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that, at a distance, resemble flies.

From ‘John Wilkins’ Analytical Language’ in The Total Library, Jorge Luis Borges, edited by Eliot Weinberger, Penguin £16.99