Jorge Luis Borges And His Use Of The Concept Of Literature

The works of Jorge Luis Borges are of no doubt a genius caliber, each short story containing their own beautifully intricate little universe, yet they are each undeniably sensibly senseless. So, what does sensibly senseless even mean? Who knows? It is up to the reader to figure out for themselves what his works mean to them. Yet one thing that is known for sure is Borges’ great passion for literature, which has reached the point where Borges uses the concept of literature itself to shape his works or more accurately, his realities.

Looking at Borges’ works, one that is largely affected by the concept of literature is one of his more well known ones, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” The starts of with a discussion between the narrator, whom can be assumed to be Borges, and a friend, Bioy Casares. In their discussion on the topic of mirrors, Uqbar comes up and that is when it starts to get a little strange. When looking for a source of the friend’s comment, the two produce a copy of the Volume XLVI of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia and find no mention of Uqbar. In addition, the narrator searched an atlas for Uqbar with no avail. The strange thing is that a couple of days later, the friend finds the article on Uqbar in another copy of the Volume XLVI of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. Which gets even stranger as the two are not able to find any further information at all on Uqbar despite the apparent validity of the subject due to the encyclopedia article. Devices such as encyclopedias and atlases are known as scholarly sources filled with facts and therefore reality. Thus by having these sources contain conflicting information, Borges toys with the facts and reality for the narrator and his friend, as he does in many of his works.

Two years after his first encounter with Uqbar, the narrator again encounters the mysterious topic when his father’s deceased friend, Herbert Ashe, receives some mail. This chance encounter ends up with the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön: Hlaer to Jangr in the possession of the narrator, filled with the fiction of Tlön. Borges often disguises parts of his short stories into educational literacy works such as history textbooks. In “El Zahir,” Borges starts of his story with an excerpt about the coin that seems like it was taken straight out of a history textbook, solidifying the “realism” factor of his works. In the case of this short story, when talking about the history of Tlön, Borges converts the short story into something like a history textbook again. He slips in detailed histories of Tlön, including the people, the ideas and the philosophies of Tlön like they are his own history. His usage of scholarly works conditions a false sense of reality for both the reader and the characters in the story. It is almost as if the narrator himself now believes that the histories of Tlön detailed in the encyclopedia are a true and becoming a real history for him at least. Borges goes through with a lengthy description of the ways of the Tlön intellect, including an example of a problem, which for the most part could be described as quite unique. He also notates a melding of the fake Tlön reality with the “real” world which is inevitable as the encyclopedia is out there and Tlön’s reality is bound to be learnt and spread and slowly sprinkle into earth’s reality.

Interestingly, the article which is dated to have been published in 1940, is given a postscript dated in 1947. The funny thing is that this short story was actually published in 1940. Here again Borges mind games of a melding of fiction and reality can be observed yet again. The first postscript, most peculiar is the reality of Tlön or in better terms the fiction of Tlön when a letter is exposed which claimed Tlön was the imaginary child of 300 scholars and a rich man. This sounds an awful a lot like the conspiracies that plague the world today about everything from the reality of pearl harbor to the whole reality of life as it is known. While the news spreads around of this strange conspiracy, the real world becomes more and more involved with the false Tlön world. Objects and more evidence of Tlön start showing up and the worlds meld together. In the end Borges notes “the world will be Tlön.” This fictional writing became reality.

So this harbors the question, what is Borges really doing with Tlön, is it really a conspiracy, what was the point of all of it? Here though, Borges is using this situation as an example to show how much of an effect literature has on reality, effectively the danger of literature itself. This admittedly false made up world and history scribed by a secret society shows up little by little and this false literature turns into reality, changing peoples perception on the real world. In his closing statement Borges even comes to mention his discomfort with systems such as Nazism and anti-semitism which he claims are enticing because they provide the appearance of order much like many seemingly scholarly texts or works. So this harbors the inquiry, what is Borges truly doing with Tlön, is it extremely a scheme, what was the purpose of every last bit of it? Here however, Borges is utilizing this circumstance for instance to show the amount of an impact writing has on the real world, viably the risk of writing itself. This as a matter of fact false made up world and history scribed by a mystery society appears gradually and this bogus writing transforms into the real world, changing people groups recognition on this present reality. In his end articulation Borges even comes to specify his inconvenience with frameworks, for example, Nazism and hostile to semitism which he claims are tempting in light of the fact that they give the presence of request a lot of like numerous apparently academic messages or works. An odd decision for a previous library lounger who took shelter in books — but who superior to anything a book-fixated self-teacher to comprehend the dangerous power of writings? To see the way 'writing' is frequently exhibited as truth? Furthermore, to fathom that the imperative contrast among writing and the frameworks it proclaims is that writing never makes terrific cases about truth? Actually, writing recognizes its fictions, its own points of view, its restrictions. What's more, what better approach to making such a significant differentiation than by utilizing — energetically, obviously — a similar arrogant authority as the writings of strict and political frameworks?

The arrangement is this: in his fiction Borges examined the job of writing on our lives, a point of view about which he knew a lot, not least because of his over the top perusing during childhood. From those encounters he extrapolated larger perceptions about writings and thoughts when all is said in done. He knew, at the end of the day, that for all its enormity, writing and workmanship can be perilously compelling in praising thoughts that don't generally justify consideration. Books, for Borges, can stand for any human attempt. In 'The Library of Babel,' an anecdote about an endless library and its frustrated occupants, books represent the illusive significance of information and accomplishment. Writing is the stupendous vehicle of human insight, however it is likewise contains the most noticeably awful of human untrustworthiness. These qualifications, to Borges, are no little issue. One can't morally celebrate all forms of writing, in case we watch our reality breakdown under the obtained thoughts of savage yet successful writings.

In any case, Borges pairs (or mirrors?) his very own strategy — that of expounding on non-existent messages as though they exist — by having the writings in 'Tlön, Uqbar, Obris Tertius' likewise reference and portray anecdotal books and places and things with scholarly assurance. His befuddlement — Borges's, that is, the storyteller Borges, not the essayist—is a great deal like the reader's, making us a fast partner in taking care of the issue. In any case, soon Borges ventures in front of us, in exacting time, yes (into the future, indeed) yet more significantly as far as account information. Borges moves from portraying the reference book's depiction of Tlön to depicting the development itself. He cautiously drops the confused researcher act to supplant it with the job of fabricator, in this way wiping out the individual story and moving the weight of comprehension (and in this way the story's curve) onto the peruser.

Borges the author, distinctively, doesn't give the peruser much in the method for direction however rather over-burdens the piece with sources and references, a significant number of them genuine, numerous not, all in the exertion of obscuring the fiction/true to life line, regardless of whether just subliminally. A vital aspect for filtering your way through this labyrinth is Borges' utilization — or all the more precisely the degree of his utilization — of academic strategies to approve his position or move the plot along. Take the commentaries, for example — exemplary signs of intelligence as well as exceptionally obvious ones. Of the six commentaries, a closer looks shows that four are utilized to help or remark upon imagined stuff, and just two on something genuine. The two authentic commentaries are on Bertrand Russell's Analysis of Mind and the duodecimal framework — they work as they should, i.e., to confirm a case or offer a short aside, and their veracity loans believability to the bogus ones. The invention and expound recording of the planet Tlön is at the command of a rich American named Ezra Buckley who, a commentary lets us know, 'was a freethinker, a passivist, and a theological rationalist for bondage.' By staying this information in a reference Borges disengages this fact and causes more to notice it. The brilliant incongruity of Borges' technique is that commentaries are customarily of optional or tertiary importance, forlorn little partners consigned to minor textual styles and squished into the edges, however Borges, 'the human as peruser,' as Peter Ackroyd called him, made sense of an approach to residue off those new words and inhale new life into them.

The most intriguing commentary, however, is one on a non-existent content referenced in the Uqbar entry, History of a Land Called Uqbar (1874) by Silas Haslam. The note coolly educates us that Haslam likewise wrote a book called A General History of Labyrinths, which clearly seems like a book Borges would write. What's so captivating here isn't simply the note, or even the note's capacity in the story, however the reality that A General History of Labyrinths by Silas Haslam has started, as Tlönian coins, to spring up in all actuality. One can discover it listed on Goodreads (with appraisals!) and even refered to in peer-looked into scholarly diaries (goodness, how Borges would have adored that). A Google picture search raises various spread plans, including one (presented underneath) appointed by a British workmanship display. Presently obviously these genuine developments are reluctant, workmanship and eccentricity propelled by Borges' own craft and caprice, yet they in any case delineate, regardless of their inspirations, reality of Borges' point: when thoughts are acquainted with the world they definitely become realized. Haslam's phony history was delivered in reverence to Borges; yet different thoughts, similar to the methods of reasoning of Tlön or the crazy plans of Hitler, can wake up through intimidation, power, and the complicity of the individuals who aren't focused by partiality or abuse. The 'presence' of A General History of Labyrinths is a good time for aficionados of Borges, a whimsical tribute to his virtuoso, but at the same time it's significant of humankind's risky inclination to twist reality to accommodate its fictions.

The occupants of Tlön are emotional dreamers, a philosophical precept going back to Buddhists Asaṅga and Vasubandhu in the fourth century however for the most part connected with George Berkeley in the mid 18th century, that fundamentally guarantees that our general surroundings exists just if our brains see it and that our insight into our physical environment (i.e., powerful substances autonomous of our recognition) can just check them as thoughts, not divergent issue. Somehow or another, Berkeley's contention appears to be absurdly explanatory — or rather it conflates what is at last a semantic point to an amazing, clearing philosophical framework — particularly since Berkeley doesn't prevent the literal existence from securing things yet rather the exact cases to corporeality that are made about those things. So he's not saying that the world is some aggregate dream however that on the grounds that our lone information of life (locate, sensation, memory, arranging, abstracting) begins, is characterized by, and stays in our discernments — in light of the fact that there isn't anyplace else for us to be yet as far as we could tell—recognizing a genuine world with genuine articles and an apparent world with saw things is past our capacities and in this manner basically good for nothing.

Borges, whose father was an optimist (be that as it may, as depicted by Joseph Epstein, of the 'we are living in a fantasy world' assortment), takes Berkeley's thoughts and literalizes them, makes a human advancement for whom vision isn't semantic or excellent yet basically the status quo. Truth be told, in Tlön a savant displays a contention for 'the tenet of realism' — that will be, that things are genuine and exist outside our observation, i.e., our regular perspective — that affects shock and debate. As obscure diversion, this is lovely on point, yet what else is Borges up to? It is safe to say that he is just caricaturizing the silliness of emotional optimism by standing out it from our very own ideas? Or on the other hand is there something different at work? Consider the impact the reference book has on human culture: the thoughts and even the language of Tlön creep into our development, into schools and books and discussions, in the long run 'disintegrat[ing] our reality.' This may appear to be an unambiguous assault individually father's convictions, however I think too that Borges has another expectation here, and it relates — at long last! — to the manner in which Borges took care of genuine.

Give us a chance to take the points of interest of Tlön and the thought of emotional vision and sum them up into what they fundamentally diminish to: writings. They are, fundamentally, just that, and on the off chance that we consider them writings we can see a bigger, progressively tricky point to the story. Fictions can be similarly as, or significantly progressively, risky and powerful as hypothesis taking on the appearance of truth. The universe of Borges' story didn't find out about abstract vision from Tlön; George Berkeley had been dead for almost 200 years when 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' was distributed. No, the explanation Tlön's ways of thinking found their way into human life was not a result of any inborn legitimacy of the thoughts but instead the way wherein those thoughts were introduced. The secret and the charm of the reference book — its far reaching mystery — makes the thoughts basic it even more successful — way progressively powerful, at any rate, than Berkeley's various treatises. To a degree this story anticipates the composition of Marshall McLuhan, whose well known expression 'the medium is the message' is to a limited extent what Borges is appearing with this story. In his influential Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) McLuhan contended that the type of workmanship is a higher priority than its substance and that, consequently, mediums, instead of primary thoughts or even method, are what ought to be considered. Borges, however, suggests the equivalent idea but does as such by degrees. Berkeley's books are not — and arguably cannot — be as generally perused and mentally instrumental as a designed race of outsiders, the ramifications of which is that it is not ideas that change the world but effective presentations of those thoughts. An admonition, maybe, that we can never limit the significant peril of any way of thinking in view of its bundling and in actuality once in a while the more silly and impossible a structure may appear, the more commanding and omnipresent it can become.

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now