Uncommon Priors » Tuesday Kafka/Borges/Byron, Departmental Sibling Guilt Edition

Tuesday Kafka/Borges/Byron, Departmental Sibling Guilt Edition

I am an only child. However, my department has instituted a “big sib, little sib” program, for which I volunteered, where senior grad students (cough) pair up with junior grad students, have periodic lunches, and show them the ropes, etc.

I was paired with my little sib on September 21. He contacted me on September 21. I replied to his message… today. Just now.

I am the worst big sib ever.

To compound my guilt, I have spent vastly more time searching for just the right K/B/B passage to commemorate this total dereliction of virtue than I have spent in fact serving as a big sib. When he flunks out of grad school and becomes a homeless crack addict, it’ll all be my fault.

This is also why I should never have children (well, one of the many reasons).


To a Minor Poet of 1899, by Jose Luis Borges.

To leave a verse concerning the sad hour
That awaits us at the limit of the day,
To bind your name to its sorrowful date
Of gold and of vague shade. That’s what you wanted.
With what passion as the day drew to its close
You labored on and on at the strange verse
That, until the universe disperses,
Would confirm the hour of the strange blue!
I do not know if ever you succeeded
Nor, vague elder brother, if you existed,
But I am alone and want oblivion
To restore your fleeting shade to the days
In the supreme already worn-out effort
Of words wherein the evening may yet be.

Actually, an oddly defensive and self-justificatory choice. Obviously, it caught my eye for line 9 and onward, but it kept my eye because of the sense that the minor poet was caught up in some great quixotic work, and the juxtaposition of this poem with my sibling story (This is a total re/misappropriation of the text, but, you know what? The author is dead, homez. Yo.) seems to suggest that I’m justifying my negligence by that work. Which, of course, I am.


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