7 Self-Management Secrets of Jorge Luis Borges
August 28th, 2013
The title of a recent Los Angeles Times piece by Hector Tobar says it all: “The Borges boom: he may be dead, but his legacy remains strong.” August 24 was the 114th anniversary of Jorge Luis Borges’ birth in Buenos Aires; he died June 14, 1986, in Geneva. Tobar points out the heavy, multimedia presence for Borges, as well as the ongoing book releases, long after his death.
The latest were published this summer by New Directions: Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature; and Borges at 80: Conversations. They have inspired a variety of additional coverage, such as “Two New Books About ‘Borges’,” by Mark O’Connell in The New Yorker; “Jorge Luis Borges and His Library of Babble,” by Michael Hingston, in the Globe and Mail; and “Borges, Politics, and the Postcolonial,” by Gina Apostol, in the Los Angeles Review of Books. There is also an excerpt from Professor Borges in Publishers Weekly. Most of his books in the United States, including a number of reissues, are published by Penguin.
I have written about Borges a number of times in recent years, and his continued output has prompted me to consider what he did in order to be remembered, studied and written about. He probably did not think in terms of self-management, but his approach can be a guide for anyone engaged in creative/knowledge work:
1. Variety of creative output. Borges wrote essays, short stories, poetry and even film reviews.
2. Variety of occupations. Although he was mainly known as a writer, he was also a professor and director of Argentina’s national library from 1955-1973.
3. Specialization. Although he was a prolific writer in several genres, he did not write novels.
4. Intellectual Curiosity. Borges was famously erudite, a polymath who incorporated many subjects into his fiction and nonfiction.
5. Global worldview. Borges wrote and lectured in Spanish, yet his work has been translated into many languages. He lectured worldwide, particularly in the United States.
6. Personal Branding. He probably would have recoiled at the terminology, yet the name Borges stands for literature of the highest order; steeped in quality and timelessness; with images of books, mirrors and labyrinths.
7. Brilliant Marketing. Again, he may not have thought of it in this way, but being a prolific writer and lecturer meant that there is considerable material to be published, collected in anthologies, reissued with new covers and added commentary, reissued as topical material (e.g. On Mysticism and On Writing); converted into multimedia products, and so on.
There is considerable material online, particularly at the Borges Center at the University of Pittsburgh. In determining your own path of self-management, consider Jorge Luis Borges’ example as a teacher and a never-ending student of life.