Some outstanding stories by Jorge Luis Borges (I)


The tales of Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (Buenos Aires, August 24, 1899-Geneva, June 14, 1986) are treasures, little wonders worth discovering. Those that I present today are from his book Fictions (1944), specifically the first part, The Garden of Forking Paths.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to deny time: it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality except as a present hope, that the past has no reality except as a present memory.* Another school declares that it has already passed all the time and that our life is only the memory or twilight reflection, undoubtedly falsified and mutilated, of an irrecoverable process. Another, that the history of the universe - and in them our lives and the most tenuous detail of our lives - is the writing produced by a subaltern god to understand a demon. Another, that the universe is comparable to those cryptographies in which not all symbols are valid and that only what happens every three hundred nights is true. Another, that while we sleep here, we are awake elsewhere and that thus each man is two men.

*Russell. (The Analysis of Mind, 1921, page 159) supposes that the planet has been created a few minutes ago, provided with a humanity that "remembers" an illusory past.

We start with Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, a story that studies the existence of another world called Tlön. Several disturbing doubts lurk throughout its pages. Does that other world really exist? Is it the invention of scholars of our reality? Is our cosmos destined to become Tlön with the passing of the strange eons?

The most interesting thing about the story are its numerous readings, both at the literaryAs philosophical o metaphysical. On the other hand, the Borgian style, which challenge the boundaries between fact and fiction, is present in each and every one of the words of this unique story.

The circular ruins

The stranger stretched out beneath the pedestal. He was awakened by the sun high. He found without surprise that the wounds had healed; he closed his pale eyes and slept, not because of the weakness of the flesh but because of the determination of the will. He knew that this temple was the place his invincible purpose required; he knew that the incessant trees had not succeeded in strangling, downstream, the ruins of another auspicious temple, also of gods burned and dead; he knew that his immediate obligation was sleep. […]

In the Gnostic cosmogony, the demiurges knead a red Adam who cannot stand up; as unskillful and rough and elemental as that Adam of dust, he was the Adam of sleep that the magician's nights had fabricated.

If for something stands out The circular ruins it is for its impressive ending which, of course, I will not reveal. But the path between its lines is just as interesting. The story takes us to the ruins of an ancient circular temple, where a man devotes himself to meditation. Its objective is clear: dream about another man to the point where it's real.

The lottery in Babylon

This silent operation, comparable to that of God, causes all sorts of conjecture. Some abominably insinuate that the Society has not existed for centuries and that the sacred disorder of our lives is purely hereditary, traditional; another judges it eternal and teaches that it will last until the last night, when the last god annihilates the world. Another declares that the Company is omnipotent, but that it only influences minute things: in the cry of a bird, in the shades of rust and dust, in the middreams of dawn. Another, from the mouth of masked heresiarchs, who has never existed and will never exist.

We ended up with The lottery in Babylon, a story that explains how that nation was organized around the purest chance. The highlight of this tale is that does not describe, suggests; in such a way that stimulates the reader's imagination and makes him a participant in the story.

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