Miscellany page and intersting stuff.
I just found a great analysis that sums up the story beautifully. Seriously, this is one
of the best "translations" I've ever found:
"In this first person narrative, Borges, while enjoying a night with his friends,
hears of an obscure nation called Uqbar. Fascinated and curious by this
strange new nation, Borges attempts to research it further, but without success.
Apparently, the only indication of Uqbar’s existence occurs in a single edition
Some years later, Borges happens by chance onto a book entitled A First
Encyclopedia of Tlon. Vol. XI. (Tlon being a planet from Uqbarian mythology,
and Orbis Tertius being one of its regions.) Further intrigued, Borges and
his friends study this volume in its entirety, learning all about the completely
foreign (more info) world of Tlon. They postulate that perhaps some secret society
of all sorts of intellectuals in fact created Tlon, each man contributing a minuscule
amount of information.
As more time passes by, Borges begins to find more and more evidence about
the existence of Tlon, by hearing of it in a passing reference, or finding
a trinket apparently made in Tlon.
Meanwhile, while Borges tried to reconcile the existence of Tlon internally,
the rest of the world begins to discover about the "imaginary" planet as well.
The study of Tlon becomes very popular in Academia, and eventually children are able to
learn the language of Orbis Tertius in school! As a conclusion to the story, the practices
and customs of the fabricated Tlonians become so popular on Earth that one is no longer able
to discern the differences between these new ideas and the original Earthling beliefs—in
essence, Earth becomes Tlon.
Many of the details about Tlon are quite fascinating and intellectually stimulating.
For example, some languages there consist of no verbs, but instead long strings of adjectives
and nouns. In another language there, there are no nouns other than those constructed by joining
two or more adjectives (and as a result, most poetry consists just one extremely long word.)
The most important discipline on Tlon is philosophy, since they believe that every reality
is an absolute truth. No book is complete without providing both a thesis and
antithesis since both are equally true. Every aspect of life from math to biology
to communicating is completely different on Tlon that on Earth. To go into further
detail on the examples however, would defeat the purpose of summarizing the work,
since it is a short story to begin with. If you’re interested, pick up a copy!"
BIG THANK YOU!:
Ok, so I finally read the story beginning-to-end while I was hanging around the Commuter Eating Place (let's call
it that) on Tuesday. I've come up with this idea of it:
The narrator of the story finds out about this weird/rip-off edition of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. In
this rip-off there is a section (not included in the real edition that was ripped-off) about this country
called Uqbar. The guy has never heard of Uqbar, nor have any of his friends heard of it and none of them
no anyone who has been there or heard of it either.
Uqbar apparently has whole volumes of literature/encyclopedias about this ficticious place called Tlon.
These works about Tlon are so intricate and detailed that there is no way one person could have written it. Tlon
is basically an entire planet created by a super genius and a bunch of really really smart people: metaphysicians,
mathematicians, artists, poets, and engineers just to name a few. The work of each individual helped create this book(s), which
is basically an encyclopedia of Tlon, an imaginary planet with crazy rules/laws of reality.
(Ok, consulting my notes for this next section on Tlon.)
- the nations of the planet are idealist
- for the inhabitants, the world is not a concurrence of objects in space, but a heterogeneous
series of independent acts
- it is serial/temporal but not spatial. In other words (I think) it is limited by time not
of or pertaining to space.
- inhabitants do not use nouns in their language. Just verbs qualified by monosyllabic suffixes
or prefixes which have the force of adverbs are used.
- in the classical culture of Tlon, the only discipline is psychology
- metaphysicians of Tlon consider metaphysics to be a branch of fantastic literature
- each state of mind is incapable of being reduced,
or brought into a different state
- time is denied on Tlon. There is only the here and now
- whole time has allready happened, and our lives are just a vague memory
or dim reflection
More analysis coming soon. I think I'm making some breakthroughs finally, though!
Some notes I took today.
- Literature of Uqbar was fantastic in nature. Its epics and legends never referred to reality, but
to the two imaginary regions of Tlon and Mlejnas.
- Nobody had ever been to Uqbar. No mention of it in the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia.
- A First Encyclopaedia of Tlon Vol. XI. ORBIS TERTIUS (blue oval stamp on first page) complete
history of an unknown planet, with its arhitecture and its playing cards, its mythological terrors
and the sound of its dialects, emperors, oceans, minerals, birds, algebra, fire, theological and metaphysical
arguments, all clearly stated, coherent, w/o any apparent dogmatic intention or parodic undertone.
- Who invented Tlon?
- "Brave new world" the work of a secret society of astronomers, biologists,
engineers, metaphysicians, poets, chemists, mathematicians, moralists, painters, and geomatricians under
the supervision of an unknown genius.
- Each of the individuals contribution was infinitesimal: An
infinitely small quantity; that which is less than any assignable quantity