Borges: "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"

Borges, Jorge. "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius." Labyrinths: selected stories & other writings. [Augmented ed.]. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp., 1964. Print.

 

Short story. In light of class, consider the role of mirror and text (what is hidden, disappears by power structure, etc.)

 

Mirrors have something "monstrous" about them (3).

 

Finds text making reference to Tlön (Encyclopedia Brittanica) but info not in every edition. Text covers usual stuff, but Language and Literature section brief-- pointed out to us. Structure of northern Tlön language is the verb (not "moon" but "to moon"); southern is the "monosyllabic adjective" (8-9). Literature abounds in ideals. Noun made by the "accumulation" of adjectives. Doesn''t have to indicate real object.

 

Tlön culture is only one discipline: psychology (9). Do not consider space (distance) in time. To Tlön inhabitants, all classification is falsification. Present is indefinite. Sophism of the nine copper coins--  notes "the language of Tlön resists the formulation of this paradox" (11). Language structures thought/ reflects thought/ is thought. Authorship: only one, atemporal and anonymous (yet all men who quote Shakespeare are Shakespeare [ff 12]?) (13). Books contain one plot with all imaginable permutations.

 

Notes that "centuries and centures of idealism have not failed to influence reality" (13). Cites how duplication of lost objects not infrequent. Seems to echo the whole Bacon/ Foucault thing.

 

Since learning of the impossible ideal, Borges''s narrator appears to experience it (in postscript, the compass, the cone [16-17]).

 

Consider (after noting rise of Nazism and horrors):

 

It is useless to answer that reality is also orderly. Perhaps it is, but in accordance with divine laws-- I translate: inhuman laws-- which we never quite grasp. Tlön is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men, a labyrinth to be deciphered by men . (17-18)

 

Final lines disturbing in that this seeming utopia seems to have invaded the modern world, but it is dystopic, fraught with uncertainty (what is true or false).