Monday, February 9, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 31.6 (Jorge Luis Borges)


El Aleph
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Borges, Jorge Luis
El Aleph


I am not really sure where I bought this, though I definitely bought it used. This is the last Borges book on my shelf, excluding the biography of Borges that will conclude this section. Reading the story "El inmortal" inspired a weird little partially-finished piece I wrote a long time ago, which probably should stay on my hard drive, but what the hell:

History According to Jorge Luis Borges

There is a book. This book lies atop another book, which was written before it, and beneath another, which was written after. That book in turn lies beneath a book written after it, and so on. The stack rises to infinity; however, it always contains a finite number of books. It is the job of a dwarf named Albert, who graduated from a school for dwarves at the foot of a volcano, to know at all times the number of books in the stack. When Albert dies, he will pass the job onto his son, Albert Jr., and so on.

Another dwarf, named Vincent, is a historian. He has the task of determining the value of each book. The value of the books at the bottom of the stack is higher than the value of the books at the top. Their value rises according to the number of books above them. Conversely, the book on the top of the stack always has the same value.

Vincent and his wife, Fiona, are incapable of producing children. He will have to pass his job on to someone outside his kin when he dies. This will not necessarily effect the value of the books; however, Vincent, with good reason, fears that someone who does not have the same respect that he does for the value system might come along and change the order in which the books are stacked, thus altering their values. For this reason, Vincent and Fiona are seeking to adopt a child in whom they can cultivate the propers respect for the value system that has ordered their lives for generations.

Thus far, they have been unsuccessful in America, but they have been told they might have better luck in China.

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