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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Monday, February 1, 2016

The most cerebral stories ever written - Borges

Possibly inspired by story in current New Yorker, The a philosophers, by Adam ehrlich Sachs, unread two Borges stories yesterday - Borges is his obvious inspiration and guiding spirit. I was surprised at  the difficulty of the two stories I read - the circular ruins and another whose name I can't even remember something like Tlin utlin orb? (Just looked it up it's Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius) it's not just the name though of course Borges has fun w these obscurities but the whole mode of his fiction - the most purely cerebral of any stories ever written - no plot no characters just ideas and concepts. TUOT is one of borges's parodies or riffs on scholarship- b and a friend come across a reference ti an obscure region in the Mid East while reading an out of print encyclopedia and this leads them on a search thru libraries and old book shops etc for further references ultimately as they learn about a culture w it's own numeric system and other odd phenomena - like a mash up of swift and frank Herbert.  The problem is when you're done it's as if nothing's there - the story is like a game or an intellectual spree that has no significance or reference point outside of itself. Still this story did establish the voice of Borges as unique and mysterious and a true forerunner to the age of postmodernism - fiction of the 60s and 79s Barth Barthelme e.g. That was about fiction itself. The circular ruins is a more accessible story - about a man who dreams another man into existence and then realizes that he himself is the dream of yet another man or being - which raises cosmological questions such as the old conundrum are we just the dream of a god or another being, does the world exist or is the world just our perception - idealism v solipsism - as well as literary questions such as are characters in stories the dram of an author and a dream shared by others across time and space- a cosmological nquestion as well in fact. (What does it mean for two people to read the same story?ncanthe reader enter the story? See woody allen's the kugelmass episode)

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