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Philosophical Concepts In The Work Of Borges: The Books Used In This Essay Are "The Circular Ruins", "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", And "The Library Of Babel".

1132 words - 5 pages

Philosophical Concepts in the Work of BorgesJorge Luis Borges, born on August 24th, 1899, originally started his career by publishing poems and essays in literary journals. It did not take him long, however, to begin the transition from writing non-fictional essays about magic to short stories that wove tales of alternate realities and paradoxical concepts. "The book which is normally considered to mark this transition is his Historia universal de la infamia(1935)" (Dyson 90). In fact, upon analyzing Borges' short stories, many literary critics cannot unanimously agree on the meaning within each work. Although Borges' works have multiple interpretations, the common theme of the physical manifestation of dreamt objects and the ideas of undefined reality are prominent in his short stories.A theory stating that reality is of the nature of thought, or that an object of external perception consists of ideas, defines idealism. Borges expands upon this definition in many of his short stories, specifically "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," a story about the effect human perception has on reality. In the story, a series of events leads the human race to physically imprint upon Earth the characteristics of the formerly fictional planet, Tlon. This assimilation bothers the narrator as he complains, "Already Tlon's (conjectural) 'primitive language' has filtered into our schools; already the teaching of Tlon's harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has obliterated the history that governed my own childhood" (Borges 81). Idealism, as portrayed in "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", suggests that simply through a nearly unanimous agreement on a particular topic or subject, the object in question can press itself upon physical reality. Such a statement then bids the question, what is real? What evidence is there that any particular object or even a specific person was not once merely an idea nursed to life within the confines of another's mental trimester? Borges addresses this question in another short story entitled "The Circular Ruins." Throughout this short work an experienced wizard attempts, with agonizing concentration, to will another being into life simply through his imagination. At first glance this, of course, seems impossible. The wizard, however, slowly but surely pieces together a human being and eventually calls upon the god of fire to officially bring to life his creation. Fire agrees on the condition that no one will be able to tell the difference between the creation and any other man, save the wizard and Fire itself. His life's goal accomplished, the wizard "lived on now in a sort of ecstasy" (Borges 100). The wizard even hears stories of his creation and how others refer to him as a magical man because he walks through fire without getting burned. However, both the wizard and Fire know that it is because he is merely a phantasm dreamt by another. The story ends with the temple in which the wizard lives burning under the undeniable heat of...

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