Jorge Luis Borges is mainly the man to blame for perpetuating the myth that tango was born in the brothels. Which is amazing, since he was not much if anything of a tanguero. He was Argentine, though, and easily the best known Argentine author.
In fact, my first encounter with Argentine culture was when I read an anthology of his short stories in high school. They were quite interesting, often playing mind games, exploring absurtities like a library of all combinations of letters, which would imply that it contain all texts already written, as well as those still unimagined. And a guy that never forgets anything. Anything. Really. That’s how I remember Borges.
I also remember him in the incarnation of a fictional character in the novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. A blind librarian in a maze of a library. Very appropriate, and my friend that introduced me to Borges got a nice card from me when I somehow ended up living in the street Jorge Luis Borges in Palermo once, not far from where he was born.
In fact I quite would like to read Borges in the original tongue, and I was tempted by nice and relatively cheap editions of his collected works in Buenos Aires bookstores on several occasions. It always ended up pure wishful thinking, though, as there was never any room in the suitcase, all filled up with shoes, cds, yerba and dulce de leche.
Apparently Borges was bitter that he never received the Nobel price for literature, and when the prize for 2010 was awarded Mario Vargas Llosa, I learnt the reason why he never got it. The reason was not literary, rather it was political, probably because at one point he accepted an honor from the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
To be honest I was mostly looking for an excuse to use this awesome drawing by Cameron Stewart as an illustration for a post. And since it is unlikely I will find even a remote a good connection with tango for Pablo Picasso, just check out this nice drawing by Tom Bachtell. Picasso cannot be blamed for anything when it comes to tango, as far as I know.