Borges: end of "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" - Torgo χ

2012-10-17 (Wednesday)

Dear Log,

[ This is Borges, the last few paragraphs of "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius". It's written in 1940, set in 1947 (!). I start with the paragraph where he tips his hand: ]

Almost immediately, reality yielded on more than one account. The truth is that it longed to yield: Ten years ago any symmetry with a resemblance of order - dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism - was sufficient to entrance the minds of men. How could one do other than submit to Tlön, to the minute and vast evidence of an orderly planet?

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 destined to be deciphered by men.

The contact and the habit of Tlön have disintegrated this world. Enchanted by its rigor, humanity forgets over and again that it is a rigor of chess masters, not of angels.

Already the schools have been invaded by the (conjectural) "primitive language" of Tlön; already the teaching of its harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has wiped out the one which governed in my childhood; already a fictitious past occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which we know nothing with certainty - not even a that it is false.

Numismatology, pharmacology and archeology have been reformed. I understand that biology and mathematics also await their avatars... A scattered dynasty of solitary men has changed the face of the world. Their task continues. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.

Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön.

I pay no attention to all this and go on revising, in the still days at the Adrogue hotel, an uncertain Quevedian translation (which I do not intend to publish) of Browne's Urn Burial.


Current Mood: Uqbari
Current Music: David Byrne- Nineveh


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