Aleph

On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph’s diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror’s face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I’d seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny — Philemon Holland’s — and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon — the unimaginable universe.

The whole text of his narration can be found here.
I wrote a little about Borges here. Some days ago I read “The Aleph” again. In one of the latter volumes of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Ger., Eng.) Douglas Adams lets appear a kind of “Großen Durchblicksstrudel”, but as I remember he describes only the results for the poor humans that are thrown in it. It also may be used as a kind of punishment – but I’m too lazy now to go in the other room and scan for the book. Poe’s maelstrom comes to mind, Scylla and Charybdis (of course there must be a German article from 1940, Oh Herr!) in the Straße von Messina, Strait of Messina, where they want to built a bridge now, crazy.

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15 thoughts on “Aleph

  1. Long ago I read the stories in “Labyrinths,” in English. I remember that I loved Borges at the time–I guess he needs to be revisited. I’ll go check out the full text of the story and be back to weigh in.

  2. LeahIf you like to have a look …savannahYou started that with a post some weeks ago when you wrote about Spanish-speaking, Southamerican writers, but forgot the “connection”.Time to go now, another night of security, oh yeah …

  3. Mr. Blue has Borges. It’s one of so many I keep meaning to read. This passage definately inspires me to do so.Was he known for having visions? If I strung my visions into the form of words I should think it would have a similar timbre.Fascinating.I could be fired for being here, but today seems to be a day of wanting to take risks. mmm….

  4. Thankfully this night was uneventful, only in the morning the rain froze to the cold earth and driving home was a nice experience, but I took no risks, I can’t afford a dang in a car or to have to repair the one I use.Risks Proxima? Like in “I bet the gun is not loaded”?

  5. I just <>know<> this is trying to tell me something, but my brain is not very receptive right now. Sounds like Kafka and Castaneda had a kid together, who wrote a book while on drugs.

  6. PortiaThe lottery. The Babel library. The evangelium. Should be the most known. I am sure there are English readers and editions, Leah mentioned “Labyrinths”. In German(y) it is very limited there is no Borges edition. Read two very interesting lectures he gave end 70s.JumpingInPuddlesI am glad to see you here. Do you have time to read?

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