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Short Story Group Reads > The Garden of Forking Paths

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message 1: by Michael, the Olddad (last edited Mar 30, 2009 03:55AM) (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
The following is an overview by Allen B. Ruch, 21 January 2004 http://www.themodernword.com/borges/b...

The Garden of Forking Paths - Ts'ui Pen

Written by the governor of Yunnan, this work is largely considered to be next to Finnegans Wake in inscrutability. Ts'ui Pen retired from rulership to write a book and construct a labyrinth; and for thirteen years he labored on that task. Upon his death, all his relatives found were the myriad pages to an almost incomprehensible manuscript -- no real book, and certainly no physical labyrinth. Saved from the fire by a Buddhist monk, the pages were organized into some sort of form and published, much to the shame of Ts'ui Pen's family. Virtually ignored in China, the work was finally revised, corrected, and restored to its intended form by the English Sinologist Stephen Albert, who began a translation. To him goes the credit for the discovery of the book's strange form: the book is the labyrinth. It is a non-linear work in which anything that can happen, does -- each possible plot outcome is pursued, multiplying into a seemingly infinite chaos. In this way, the book represents Ts'ui Pen's view of time: and endless series of possibilities that spread their web through all of eternity.

The restored and translated version had to wait several decades after Albert's death to finally find a publisher: the book was finally published in 1955 by a small company in New York. Financed by a Dublin philanthropist, the editions were quite beautiful: three volumes, each of 500 rose-colored pages, bound in black leather with golden Chinese calligraphy on the front; illustrated throughout with color plates, they bore a dedication to Stephen Albert and a forward by Joseph Campbell. Unfortunately The Garden of Forking Paths has never been published again, making the surviving volumes quite rare and expensive. (I would like to make this observation: In 1985 the American composer Stephen Albert, a direct descendent of the Sinologist of the same name, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning symphony based on Finnegans Wake. It seems that it runs in the family!)





message 2: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Thanks for this. I was just getting ready to start the thread.

This is kind of a hard story to start a discussion on... I have been mulling over what to say for almost 24 hours...!


message 3: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
Shel wrote: "Thanks for this. I was just getting ready to start the thread.

This is kind of a hard story to start a discussion on... I have been mulling over what to say for almost 24 hours...!"


And maybe that's the best place to start the discussion. After all, one of the things that makes this story so fascinating is how difficult it is to talk about. What is it's subject? Where can we find a point of entry? No matter where we try start, we find ourselves (or at least i find myself) on a circular path, leading to nowhere.



message 4: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I guess we should all just keep turning left.

I wish I were more of a Borges afficionado, but I'm not, so I'll be stumbling through this one, even with that extremely helpful other thread. What's weird is I've read Labyrinths and Ficciones but I can't say that I feel like I really know how to talk about his work. Maybe the best way to approach it is to divide up the levels of what seems to be happening... "real" vs. "imagined" vs. "metaphysical" -- but I don't know if that will make it any easier... because it's all so... inseparable...? (That and I have some other stuff going on that's distracting me.)

Ben and Michael seem to have a much firmer grasp on this whole labyrinth thing. I'm sure I'll get it if I just think on it a little more...

I thought of a maze of mazes, of a sinuous, ever-growing maze which would take in both past and future and would somehow involve the stars.


message 5: by Michael, the Olddad (last edited Mar 30, 2009 11:51AM) (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Shel wrote: "I guess we should all just keep turning left.

I wish I were more of a Borges afficionado, but I'm not, so I'll be stumbling through this one, even with that extremely helpful other thread. What's ..."


Oh no, I'm enjoying too much listening to you circumnavigate any meaning that might be here to interrupt. Please go on. I am afraid my mind is already made up, and I find the fresh eyes on the text delightful. Anyway; I am sure Oro - if that who he really is - and I, Michael, will jump in and prejudice the conversation soon enough.

mm




message 6: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
So are you the kind of guy who switches off the lights at the breakers just to watch people stumble around in the dark looking for candles? ;-)

I accept your challenge! I will use my thinker and get to the meaning of it yet!


message 7: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
So, Michael, where did that little excerpt above come from?

What we have here appears to be a story about time and ... the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure story.

When I try to relate the novel and the conversation about time and the labyrinth to the plot of the story, I come up a bit short.

Is Borges trying to say that in this time, in this place, and only this time and place, Albert and the protagonist are enemies; that Albert must die because of a series of... forking paths...; that this man Albert, who may be the only person who understands this stranger in a strange land, spying for the Germans, must die because of the forking paths followed to get here?

Or am I going too heavy handed with the determinism?


message 8: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
And now, in this time and in this place, the forking path takes me to the gym.

More on all this later, provided my arms don't fall off.


message 9: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 641 comments Mod
Ok, I read the story. I think this was my third time reading it and I am still not sure how to approach discussing it. I often feel this was when reading Borges. I feel that I am often reduced to superlatives which is not really conducive to discussion.

I wish some of these characters (ie. fellow fictionphiles) would hurry up and prejudice this conversation so I can learn how to talk about this guy.


message 10: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Nonsense. We shall forage ahead into the unknown.

I couldn't help but to think of Eliot's Four Quartets: Burnt Norton when I was reading the parts about time:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.



You really have to read that shit carefully to get anything out of it at all.

Here's an interesting little theory I find compelling, from a site on geocities, of all places:


Borges and the particular story have long been recognised by current hypertext theorists to be a print precursor of hypertext. Borges has always been a favourite with the postmodernists and it was logical that people with a background in literary criticism and an interest in new technologies would see a connection in the Borgesian motive of the labyrinth and hyperlinking.

(http://www.geocities.com/papanagnou/c...)


message 11: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Now. Let's look at the story from a structural/plot/character perspective first. Because that will inform any metaphysical/philosophical understanding. That's my hope, at least.

Anyway.

So here goes. There is the plot and characters:

Dr. Yu Tsun. The spy for the Germans, in England, during WWI. Of the reason he does his work, he says "I felt the Chief had some fear of my race... I wished to prove to him that a yellow man could save his armies." He is a complete and utter alien spying on the country he lives in and delivering information to the Germans.

Richard Madden, the man in pursuit of the good doctor, who arguably drives the entire plot.

Stephen Albert, the man who is most understanding of who Yu Tsun is, the man Yu Tsun has come to murder in order to pass along his information to the German Army - to the Chief who fears his people.

The apparent plot - a spy who knows his days are numbered devises a way to make his voice "heard" and sets out to murder someone with the name of the city that is about to be bombed. He succeeds but is captured; the entire story is his statement of what occurred.




message 12: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Now. Time. History. Bifurcation.

I get the multi-forking paths, I get the whole dialogue at the end where Stephen Albert seems to almost know what's about to happen to him. The theory quoted above is quite handy - when you start thinking about this in terms of hypertext theory (not even theory, really, just how they work), it's actually really easy to understand. Instead of going to pages of text you go to events and decisions and people... of the novel (and, I think, of life), Albert says:

An infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging parallel times. This web of time, the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries -- embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them.

Culture. Alienation.

Literature... novel creation... not using the word time in a novel about time... damn, there is a lot of stuff in there...

Also, the nature of being a spy - the job itself. (I just watched Body of Lies recently.) You live in a country not your own, gathering information that could hurt the people around you directly (including yourself) and deliver that information to the hands of someone else to do with as they see fit - you have no control over, or even any say in, how that information is used. In this case, he isn't even spying for China, and he thinks Germany is barbaric. He even says he was forced to be a spy.

And this word, pullulation! Gadzooks!


message 13: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Wait. Sinology sounds familiar. Albert talks about being one.

Isn't that the sort of... not quite accurate translation of Chinese characters into English? Isn't that what Ezra Pound used to translate Chinese poetry back in the day...? When people still used the word Oriental?

According to Wikipedia it's the more general study of Chinese culture, history, etc. But I could have sworn it was a way of translating Chinese.

Which ties right back to "Fox-in-the-Morning"'s discourse on language!

OK. I'll stop posting now. This is supposed to be a discussion, not just me listening to myself type.


message 14: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments As far I remember Borges chinese was born from manuals and encyclopedias... And I may say nothing, because Maureen is Oro.


message 15: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
usually when a story has a plot and a subplot, the subplot is at least partially intended to shed some light on the plot. i think it's interesting that in this case, even though the subplot takes up only a fraction of the whole story, we are left feeling that somehow the plot should shed light on the subplot, and not the other way around.

i am not convinced that time is really the subject of the tale, although it clearly takes a leading role. but i saw as equally important the life altering effects of random coincidences and the unpredictability of human motivations.


message 16: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Yeah, I see that - absolutely - the nature of the original novel, the oddness of finding someone with a last name to kill to convey the spy's message... I think Borges is playing with the form.

And the spy thing - that fits with the unpredictability of human motivations, as well as the effects of their unpredictable actions.

For one thing, I don't really buy the idea that this Chief understood that some news story with the name Albert in it forewarned the attack. Unless I'm incorrectly recalling how the information made it to the Chief, and Yu Tsun's name was in the news story.


message 17: by Michael, the Olddad (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Shel wrote: "So, Michael, where did that little excerpt above come from?"

I would recommend The Modern World site I reference at the top of the thread for study of many of the authors we discuss in this group, and the Borges section is no exception. Within that section I found a listing of fictional books whihc Borges did not write, including The Garden of Forking Paths, by Ts'ui Pen.

Here is an index of the authors on The Modern World:
http://www.themodernword.com/authors....

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this short story.

Oro






message 18: by Michael, the Olddad (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Shel wrote: "So, Michael, where did that little excerpt above come from?"

I would recommend The Modern World site I reference at the top of the thread for study of many of the authors we discuss..."


BTW, I just found the results of a contest The Modern World sponsored for "the best review of an imaginary book". These are great!

http://www.themodernword.com/contests...

Oro


message 19: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Ok, the temptation to see Borges and the hypertext together is too big, but the solution is too clumsy. It is the idea of the infinite books, the finite combinations, the casuality that matters, not putting together everything wrote...
The sub plot (the war) is irrelevant for the plot of the kafkanesque-mallarmeresque chinese author. The only thing that matters is that casuality helped a message to be build, a enigma to exist.
One thing, in the list of possible aesthetic concepts of infinite books (the eternal return, the 1001 nights) borges does not list one that he was aware, which was Shelley (all books we write, are the same book)... Time is for borges a friend of memory, memory is a creative process to him. In the chinese author stories all possibilities are still open, reality (the war story) is about closing those possiblities. Art is about giving to an object this possibility, there is the concept, the difference between the stories (Labyrinths are metaphors borges used to talk literature, books are labyrinths, Borges was fascinated with Joyce notion about a book that should be read all the time, even if he was not fascinated by the FW)... one is about the definition of literature, without concepts (Wittengstein, show not tell) and the pararel with the plot, inside the plot, the plot.
Lets remember he didn't believe in the infinite, but in the infinite combinations inside a finite space...

Anyways, Spanish is not a great language. Borges merit for building such elegance in that baroque confusion must be exalted. One of the examples is the title of this tale, El Jardin de senderos que se bifurcan (in portuguese, O Jardim das veredas que se bifurcam)... The english title is not worth.
It is not one of my favorite tales of borges, in my opinion, not one of his best, but the title is good enough to became some short of trademark.


message 20: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
True, they are not one and the same, but (a) hypertext theory is more complex than what we all understand to be hypertext... hypertext in its strictest definition goes back to ancient texts... and I think you would have to add metatext to really approach Borges with any kind of contemporary metaphor... and (b) any tool (not solution) that can be used, however clumsy, to better understand his work is one worth using.

So when you say Art is about giving an object to this possibility, oh hell, I just need more explanation, because that statement is kind of confusing to me. What possibility? The infinite book? Reality? Time? Memory?


message 21: by Michael, the Olddad (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Jcamilo wrote: "It is not one of my favorite tales of Borges, in my opinion, not one of his best, but the title is good enough to became some short of trademark.

Hence also my prejudice. I do not think this is his best story, but I understand why the title stuck. Borges says an author's work is gradually reduced over time to a single sentence (I paraphrase), and then a single word; hence, sadly "Borgesean".

I think this story would be better understood in context of other stories. Maybe we could take Ben's advice and do a companion reading of "Pierre Menard"? Maybe comparing the two would elicit more discussion?

I also like his "Handwriting of God", "Funes the Memorious", "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins", "New Refutation of Time", "Pascal's Sphere", ...any takers?

mm





message 22: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Well, art is not an object or the specific manifestation (also something borgesian) but the artist have his say. He deliever a product that the different audiencies will transform due the aesthetic effect. Hundred of interpretations. Hence, the infinite book is the Iliad, we have been writing it again and again since ever. Because we try to fullfil the possibilities that a single writer was unable to (reality - a romance conveys one solution). So art is possiblities.

If I would think of basic borges texts...
Almostasin - Alleph - Library of Babel - Funes - Pierre - Asterion - Two kings in a labirinthy - Death and compass ... maybe some other... The essays...Seven Nights would be enough.
The garden is a mix between Death and Compass with Almostasin... I think Borges needed to proof that repetition was logical.


message 23: by Michael, the Olddad (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod

Looks like you and me about kilt off this here discussion Oro. You want to meet me at the saloon for a whiskey and wait an see if anyone comes around back agin?

mm


message 24: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments I was drinking wine, Oro, but we need to provoke someone to talk about something else, this or I will take Borges to the Faulkner thread, which is just suitable.
Forget Ben, he is gazing the ocean.


message 25: by Ben, uneasy in a position of power; a yorkshire pudding (last edited Mar 31, 2009 08:32PM) (new)

Ben Loory | 241 comments Mod
the ocean is beautiful and contains all stories. except ones about the ocean, which don't fit. i haven't had time to reread forking paths (i've been too busy reading "the feather pillow") but i'll get to it soon. like everybody else, it seems, it is not one of my favorite borges stories, probably because it is the most "normal" of them. i like him best when he is writing stories in the form of essays or explications of other stories (whether or not they exist). and garden of forking paths also isn't very funny. i like funny. i think the problem in general with borges is that he explicates himself, his stories are already explicated. they just sit there, saying themselves, and you go: yeah! there it is! and now i am going to stop typing.


message 26: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Sorry I missed the fun. I had a French class yesterday and then there was this wine waiting for me at a bar.

So anyway.

It's just after 6 am, I can feel the bags under my eyes, and I have nothing good to say just yet.


message 27: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
to those who think we need to add another story to the mix, i disagree. i'm perfectly enjoying thinking about this one, and don't want to confuddle myself even further, at the moment. (anyway, i think we've all read other borges stories. i think i've read all of them at least once.)

and talk of having killed a thread only hours after your last post? come on! give us a minute! i'm still mulling!




message 28: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments That oro guy, thread killer...


message 29: by Patrick, The Special School Bus Rider (last edited Apr 01, 2009 09:32PM) (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 269 comments Mod
I could not help but point out that despite all the talks of twisted paths, circular or otherwise, labyrinths, forking paths, infinite actions, choices, the past, present, and future, the spy Dr. Yu Tsun appears to be very single minded in his mission. He has already decided the future for himself and for Albert and even took a single turn, the left turns that would end eventfully at Albert's house. It seems as if the author is purposely contradicting himself when he used the main character's as a chess piece moving relentlessly toward his goal: to use Albert's dead body as a code for the city Albert. Also, it looks to me as if the circle, which is closed, is more inevitable than the infinite possibilities of different lines or different acts.

The shape circle is known to be a symbol of perfection, from the legend of the Pope making Leonardo Da Vinci draw a circle to prove his artistic skill and talent.

I think the author is also hinting on the idea of story telling, or rather the shape of the story, whatever be a circle or a twisting path reaching the end. It seems to paraphase Stephen King's story telling labyrinth club in which the bulter said that you could get lost in there.

I think there is a bit of complaint on how darn hard it is to make up stuff on paper in every novel that I have read.

Just a few things that I mulled over while reading this neat short story.


message 30: by Esther (new)

Esther | 83 comments Mod
What I got from this is -- In life we make choices, once the choice is made we abandon the ability to go back and forsake that choice for another. Time itself, in the world of reality, moves on a linear plane and we move from point A to point B, regardless of the twists and turns we take to get there. What this book said to me is that literature does not have to move on this defined linear path. Once a choice is made in literature, you can go back and unmake it, because literature is, in a sense, imagination and, as my Fiction lit teacher said – You can make people believe anything, if you build the foundation upon which they should believe it. In literature everything can happen and nothing can happen, it is in no way limited by the sense of time and reality in the way our lives are governed.

But maybe I’m just making too simple a point out of something that is much more complex than I have the ability, as of yet, to understand…Maybe I'm reading into it what I need out of it. I have a big decision coming up about whether to quit my job or not and I'm stressing!


message 31: by Ben, uneasy in a position of power; a yorkshire pudding (new)

Ben Loory | 241 comments Mod
just finished reading the story; haven't had time to process.

couple things:

1) good thing those folks in germany thought to use the murder victim's name to designate the city to be bombed! i would've just figured the chinese guy went nuts.

2) i was recently reading about this book which borges was supposedly very interested in, and which was included in his "personal library" of favorite books:

An Experiment With Time (Studies in Consciousness) by J.W. Dunne An Experiment With Time

i ordered it a couple weeks ago, but when my copy came it was missing the first 10 pages (strange coincidence) so i got pissed off and threw it away. but basically, the idea seemed to be that "reality," the way we live along a horizontal timeline, is actually false, that we live in all times at once, and that our dreams are sort of connecting paths that go backward and forward. it's sort of like the aboriginal dreamtime thing. anyway, the book appeared in 1927 and to my cursory view would appear to have been quite an influence on this story.

back later.


message 32: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
I just reread this and am also digesting yet but would offer this

it is also easy to overestimate what is going on here - on one level this is a fairly straightforward genre exercise adorned with some cool stuff about labyrinths


message 33: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "the spy Dr. Yu Tsun appears to be very single minded in his mission. He has already decided the future for himself and for Albert and even took a single turn, the left turns that would end eventfully at Albert's house. It seems as if the author is purposely contradicting himself when he used the main character's as a chess piece moving relentlessly toward his goal: to use Albert's dead body as a code for the city Albert. Also, it looks to me as if the circle, which is closed, is more inevitable than the infinite possibilities of different lines or different acts."

i have nothing to add at the moment, but just have to say that i thought you made an excellent point.


message 34: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments I think the main reason why the most borgesians fans here are talking about other stories (besides the fact this is not Borges best story) is because everything in Borges is incomplete without a mirror where it reflects. Sometimes, oftentimes, it is only possible to read Borges if you read other writers as well. Sometimes You need other Borges stories.
This story for example, they are other borges stories. (Repetition is a key aesthetical factor for Borges). This one for example, it is very much The Aleph, Funes or Death and Compass. There is a plot (with Aleph and Deat and Compass, two enemies) which leads to discovery of a metaphor (or, to please the blind man, a giantic Kennigar) which symbolizes one of the key concepts for Borges. The Aleph, Memory or the Infinite Book.
Also, it is relevant, Borges said he wrote first the begining, the then the end, and finally adding the middle. Also, to borges the mistery is more ellegant, more appealing than the mistery (in fact he accused the final soluction of detectives to be just chance, an attempt to hide from the reader that several other possibilities are also possible, as we can see in Isidro Parodi tales)...
The sub-plot of This garden is also present in other books. At somepoint of Library of Babel he said all Library could be useless and replaced by a single book, one that could be combined in different ways. It is the infinite book, which is also an Aleph or a lotery. Borges adhered to Shelley notion of Infinite book, because we are Infinite individuals, and all writers are Homer or Shakespeare. The idea is here.Also the Labyrinth (Literature, a book, because the interpretation) is present in Asterion.
Also, he is economic, he would not say that Yu Tsun would despise his ancestor work for nothing. Reality - pragmatism despite metaphysics and Borges is moking it - he is an adept to some idealism and he is giving his humor here. Yu Tsun, with all his logic, had to deal with chance and a clumsy enigma. There was considerable chance that would fail.
More than ever, his decision does not cease the different lines and possiblities. He didnt denied his ancestor. To borges one decision, the real happening, is not realted to the possibilities. They do not cause each other (cause and consequence, irrelevant to him). Plus it is good to point that Borges didnt belief in a timeline. Past-Present-Future are all the same to him. Future could manifest in the past as easily as the past could in the future. Thus, the sequence how the things happens, irrelevant, the Fact Yu Tsun seems single minded only shows that his destiny was set, not that he was aware of this destiny.
Anyways, to remind to Oro, lack of trust on time, like Borges, is a trait of the skeptical, non-religious people. Time is a manifestation of religiousity, everytime you check what hours is, you pray.


message 35: by Michael, the Olddad (last edited Apr 04, 2009 06:40PM) (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "Also, it looks to me as if the circle, which is closed, is more inevitable than the infinite possibilities of different lines or different acts."

> I'm still ringing from this great quote Patrick. But I might add that the circle might be the more successful form, but I think the dimension of possibilities to which you refer - and which Borges once masterfully referred to as the Museum of Platonic Archetypes - is a) overpopulated with potential geometries and histories, and b) less conscious of the degree of actuality which this thing or that thing have over each other, and is more about "fair play", chap, and equality of potential than even the success of the circle would allow at first blush. Don't get me wrong, I like circles. Don't want to get on the wrong sign of any circle lovers out there.

Jcamilo wrote: "Time is a manifestation of religiosity, every time you check what hours is, you pray"

> Man, I heard the sound of one hand clapping with this one. Need to think about it. But I think Mr. David Hume would agree with you here Señor Jcamilo.

Great comments continue to come to this thread people! I've been out leading a real life and been away pretty much the past few days. Good to come back and see it lively here at ffredux. It’s why I keep coming back.

Bueno,
Oro



message 36: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments All right, Michael stop gazing the abyss, altough it is too late...
What I can say about this tale is that, Ts'Pei still writing his very book. That is the best possible solution. He never ended, The story of Yu Tsun is Ts'Pei story, they are both the same individuals, because to Borges one man, could be all men. The story of Yu Tsun is inside the work of his ancestor (chronology is reversible), that is also what explains his last words to Albert: "I am your friend". He could be lying, he could be telling the truth. The same story changed by this simple line. Yu Tsun decision, a irrelevant fact, does not change that he could have planned it all or that he had no option. That is the labyrinth, that is Ts'Pei book, that is the forking paths, not the actual decisions of Tsun, but what can be understood by it. They are all the same men.

I would remember however, that Borges regreted his metaphor of musuem, Borges was a bit platonic after all...


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Came back to read this for the compare stories thread.
SO we have a spy who is caught and is telling a story. We only get to listen in at the part where he is about to be caught. The man Madden is closing in to capture or more likely to kill him. Lying in his room he works himself into a state of panic, fight or flight. He runs for it probably because he has been programed to. He becomes hyper-aware and places significance on meaningless circumstances, catching the train, the kids at the train stop telling him take lefts. In one breath he is a spy to prove the worth of the Chinese, in another he is being made to be a spy? He's completely unreliable. He can't even tell us how he gets into Albert's house. And so at the end he decides his voice will be heard and so his life and words will have meaning. More importantly, to him, we will understand his bravery and sacrifice (the part where he kills the one man who understands his ancestors mystery.) He convinced himself of his own importance.

Hm. I bet all my therapists read a lot of this guy.


message 38: by Michael, the Olddad (new)

Michael (olddad) | 255 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "Came back to read this for the compare stories thread. SO we have a spy who is caught and is telling a story. We only get to listen in at the part where he is about to be caught. The man Madden is..."

RE: He becomes hyper-aware and places significance on meaningless circumstances...

Bingo! But I am sorry, is this something that needs to be cured? I thought "significance" was the goal here, not the enemy.

I think the relevent question/questions are whether/not any/all such significance is subjective/objective, personal/universal, etc.

But I guess one could question whether such significance is healthy/hurtful. The goodness of it is something I've always just assumed I guess; nothing to fear here, consider the liles of the field and all. But it is an interesting viewpoint, that there is some harm to be found in non-grounded, misleading significance...and I am opening to listening about it.

mm





message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 20, 2009 07:37AM) (new)

Not cured (dont know if there is a cure) but certainly taken into consideration. How much of what he is telling is actually happening and how much is he percieving to be happening? how much is given greater or even undo significance? He's about to die. He's freaking out.


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