Auto-engendramiento del texto en Borges (10/22/03)

All four of the short stories from Ficciones that I read for today’s class with Professor Sandra Cypess seem to me to be centered around a celebration of the act of creation – but none so much as “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” and “Las ruinas circulares.” In these two stories, Borges creates entities that have the power to auto-generate other entities in an infinite cycle. His enthusiastic experimentation with the theme of invention and the process of creation can here easily be seen metatextually as a reflection of the act of writing – the act of producing fictions. More than an exploration of the metafictionality embodied in Borges’ works, however, I would like to use this space to investigate more deeply into precisely how this moment of creation is envisioned within these two texts.

Borges seems to conceptualize this moment of creation as a momentneedful of separation from other spacial/temporary relations. This needfor emphasis, for a separation from the normal, can best be seen in thestory “Las ruinas circulares.” Here the protagonist must find a distinctspace in which to begin to create: a sacred space deserving of theholiness of the engendering that will take place there. The narratorcharacterizes the very mud as “fango sagrado” (56) and lets the readerknow that the place that he comes to rest used to be a temple, thedwelling of a god. These circular stone walls, whose shape is suggestiveof the shape of the womb and whose function is certainly similar, serveas a physical reminder of the boundaries and protections of thisenclosure.

The use of the image of fango as sacred may surprise some readers- but the jungle and its mire is sacred in this context preciselybecause of their relation to the imminent act of creation. This mire iswhat generates life. What Borges explores within these ruins is thefecundity of the creation act. The ruins function as a sacred/magicalspace of engenderment – precisely as the page is a space rich inpossible creations.

This underlying theme of an examination of texts as a space for the creation of worlds, as the text as a space which generates texts/fictions/entities, is what makes the metafictitious references in these two stories so important. The reader must never lose sight of the fact that the act of creation in Borges is double: that it has to do as much with the propagation of ideas as it does with the generation of the text itself.

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