Natalie W


In the short story “the Aleph”, Jorge Luis Borges depicts a man who revisits the house of a woman he loved every year. In this process he “Borges” comes across her cousin who seems to be writing a poem that is metaphoric of the universe. As the man attempts to give proof to his mediocre poetry that Borges comes across the idea of the Aleph. The Aleph is metaphoric for the opportunity if granted infinity of viewing the universe, could we possibly know everything? The Aleph is symbolic for the co-existence of everything in the universe at the same time. The entity of knowledge rests within it. When Borges comes out from looking at this Aleph everything in the world is familiar to him. But what the real message is, is that Borges quickly forgets most of it. Ultimately, if the entity of all knowledge were obtainable to we, as humans could still not find our own identities, as we will always have the capacity to forget the exact images of our own experiences. He uses metaphor and language in particular to create certain false impression to trick the viewer into thinking it’s a reality. We see this later proved by Borges when his memories fade. We cannot simply prove the idea that our universe co-exists, forgetting all time and place because our own forms of memory and language falsify this hypothesis.

In the short story, “The Other” Borges introduces us to the idea of multiple selves co-existing simultaneously. He uses this idea metaphorically to grasp the idea that we as humans are our pasts, presents, and future concurrently. Although all fundamentally the same person we divide our selves through our personal experiences. We see this as the young man on the bench is naive where the old man is wise through experience, war, death, and love. Finally, Borges again addresses the idea of dream vs. reality, as our selves co exist in both worlds. Our identities are endless without being able to decipher one’s own state of being. We see this here, “The encounter was real, but the other man spoke to me in a dream, which was why he could forget me; I spoke to him while I was awake, and so I am still tormented by the memory” (Dostoevsky, 417).

In the short story, “The Immortal” Jorge Luis Borges portrays a man, Joseph Cartaphilus who has little self-identity and in return seeks out the city of immortals. Cartaphilus scales the earth looking for one specific city and once he reaches this place he realizes that he actually has to go through hell in order to gain eternal life. Borges uses the idea of immortality to metaphorically touch on the human’s desire for discovering truth. Borges concludes through this story that finding the search for a self, an identity is infinite. With immortality comes the further distortion of reality and paradoxically the loss of one’s personal identity. We see evidence for this here, “We accept reality so readily-perhaps because we sense that nothing is real” (Borges, 190). When Cartaphilus is given eternal life, his identity considerably changes throughout the times of the world. He becomes everything of the past and the future, for instance he is Homer in the Iliad. In conclusion Borges claims that as long as the idea of immortality exists humans will naively search for their own truths, resulting in a boundless search for happiness. “What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal” (Borges, 191).

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