Wed 6 Dec 2006
In “The Aleph”, Jorge Luis Borges examines a single point in space where everything in existence is contained. What he sees is essentially impossible: he sees everything in existence. However, he can not remember all of this, which relates to the question of “Who am I?” because though everything that we ever encounter or experience makes us who we are, we cannot remember every second of our lives, just the way in this one instant the narrator can see the entire world, but cannot remember all of it, so he still does not know what the whole world consists of or what the whole world is. If we could remember everything that ever happened to us, there would be no questions in life for us and our existence would be boring. If the narrator of the Aleph could remember the entire world that he has just seen in the Aleph, his existence would then be pretty pointless because there would be nothing left for him to explore or question. Also, if the narrator can only see things that are in existence, this means he cannot see anything in the past or the future, which still would not explain the entire world and its existence because it cannot explain what has happened to the world and what is going to happen to it to make it what it is, just as we cannot collect our entire past and future to know who we are. In “The Aleph,” Borges draws parallels between seeing the entire world in the Aleph and seeing our entire self, and these parallels help to explain why we can never fully answer the question “who am I?”.