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On recursion

If this were a story by Borges, then a man very like Borges would have written an essay about Xanadu. In that essay, Borges would have noted that Samuel Taylor Coleridge reported in 1816 that the entire text for his poem about Kublai Khan had come to him in a dream. Years later – and long after Coleridge’s death - the relevant texts were translated and it turned out that the design for Xanadu had come to Kublai Khan in a dream.

Was it the same dream?
Borges decides to consult Roberto Calasso who, just a few weeks earlier, had written a story about Baudelaire’s dream. Baudelaire’s dream, naturally enough, had been had on his behalf by his friend Asselineau. In that dream, a general is saved from execution by shooting a horse. For Calasso this is a distinctive episode because the symbolic substitution of a horse for a leader is the pre-eminent ritual in Vedic culture. Vedic culture is of especial interest to Calasso because of the importance it placed on the realm of the mind. So c…

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