I’ve been revisiting parts of Borges’ Labyrinths, a collection of short stories, essays, and parables all too easy to get happily lost in, and I noticed in James E. Irby’s introduction something that gave me pause. He’s writing about the “creative deception” Borges uses to dissolve boundaries we take for granted, such as the distinction between literature and life:
We are transported into a realm where fact and fiction, the real and the unreal, the whole and the part, the highest and the lowest, are complementary aspects of the same continuous being: a realm where ‘any man is all men’, where ‘all men who repeat a line of Shakespeare are William Shakespeare’. The world is a book and the book is a world, and both are labyrinthine and enclose enigmas designed to be understood and participated in by man. We should note that this all-compromising intellectual unity is achieved precisely by the sharpest and most scandalous confrontation of opposites.
A photograph of the same text (Penguin Modern Classics edition, 1970):
It’s a lovely passage, worth quoting at length not just for explanatory context, but shouldn’t that be all-comprising in the last sentence?