Jorge Luis Borges translated Thomas Browne
into seventeenth-century Spanish. I read this
in an interview with Daniel Bourne, whom I know
but haven’t seen (in Ohio) for many years.
Borges told Daniel, that ‘I’ – then ‘we’ – ‘took
a chapter out of Urne Buriall’ and rendered
it unto, or maybe in the manner of, Quevedo.
The slippage was in the Latin, as is the slippage
in the hairy children of ‘Languedock, called the Morgellons’,
noted in Browne’s ‘Letter to a Friend’, and sourced
to name a hairs-under-the-skin scourge of modernity,
seen by some as ‘delusional parasitosis’.
The spread of this disease is concomitant (we read)
with that of the web, a metaphor for invasiveness,
to catch by proxy or suggestion. The psychosomatics
of living in the windfall of uranium decantation ponds
at Narbonne (Colonia Narbo Martius), commune
of Languedoc-Roussillon, where we would have gone
with its ‘Languedock’-like spelling, our nine-year-old
prey to uranium hairs that grow unseen, undeclared,
only just recognised. Precise or imprecise as a word,
a coinage of a learned and inquisitive stylist
of the English language; Romantic irritant.
John Kinsella is founding editor of the journal Salt in Australia; he serves as international editor at the Kenyon Review. His most recent volumes of poetry are Divine Comedy: Journeys through a Regional Geography (W. W. Norton) and Disturbed Ground: Jam Tree Gully/Walden (W.W. Norton).