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The Garden of Forking Paths by Jose Luis Borges - A Literary Essay Example

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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The Garden of Forking Paths by Jose Luis Borges is viewed as a unique piece of literature that illustrates the possibilities of multiple futures and timelines which are linked by various events. The events, in this case, serve as nodes that provide a platform for the convergence and the divergence of the platforms. Time is depicted as a labyrinth in which Yu Tsun, the main character, is led by it to his fate. The story puts into view extra dimensions or rather alternate realities (Balderston 40). The focus of the analysis is on the labyrinth regarding nature of time as illustrated in the story, The Garden of Forking Paths by Jose Luis Borges.

The Garden of Forking Paths, presents a comprehensive explanation of the allied attack that took place in the First World War at the Serre-Montauban which experienced a delay for about five days in the year 1916. The story includes a personal account of Dr. Yu Tsun who was a German spy. The account begins at the narrators media res until the time he is arrested. The account includes how he escaped from Richard Madden who was an Allied Captain and his attempts to provide warning to the German leader on the potential places that allied forces planned to attack. Yu Tsun manages to flee the captain by train in which he confirms his current location with some boys loitering at the station. One of the boys guides him to Dr. Albert with the assumption that Yu Tsun wants to see him (Borges 18). The boy provides him with directions to the courtyard in which Yu Tsun reflects on how to go about a particular maze which makes him think about his ancestor. His ancestor, Ts'ui Pen, was known for stepping down from leadership in order to put down put down a revolutionary manuscript and construct the vital manuscript. However, after his death in the hands of a foreigner, the manuscript became unclear and the maze could not be located. Yu Tsun engages in meditation whereby he views all forms of time as labyrinth in which he positions himself as an abstract observer beyond the time frames. The escape and the delivery of the message to Berlin imply that Yu Tsun has to main tasks (Borges 22).

To understand the concept of labyrinth, Weed distinguishes between physical and textual labyrinth (Weed 159). A physical labyrinth consists of an order or plan but the victim cannot access it. However, a textual labyrinth includes ideas and signs such that it becomes difficult to point out a labyrinths plans. Also, a physical labyrinth contains distinctive boundaries such as walls that either block or guide the movement of the associated subject. However, a textual labyrinth does not have distinctive walls in which one cannot tell whether he or she has arrived at the center (Weed 159).

The scholar further explains that putting up a physical labyrinth tends to be a symbolic act. The given example is that of a prisoner whereby it would be manageable to put up a cell that includes a locked entrance. However, the image of a cell or prison presents a symbolic labyrinth due to the associated experiences of either walking without direction, which is viewed as a significant metaphor in the life of humans. Weed states, We all have, then, an intuition of the labyrinthine; my task will be to describe how this sensation is realized in the reading of The Garden of Forking Paths, (Weed 162).

One of the significant labyrinths is the Chinese labyrinth. The labyrinth is perceived to enable the reader engage with the text. The labyrinth is associated with Yu Tsuns walk across the English countryside whereby he reflects on his ancestors manuscript. He states, even more populous than the Hung Lu Meng (22). The reflection then turns into a dream in which the reader is transferred into a sequence of dreams unknowingly. The dreamer comes across two monks who vanish in a gate with strange wordings such as the truth becoming fiction, the real becoming unreal. The dreamer wakes up and goes outside where he finds the same monks who had appeared in his dream standing outside his home. He perceives the monks to be products of his thoughts.

The discussion between Tsun and Albert plays a significant role despite exhibiting irrelevance. Tsun aligns with the views on time as per Pens theories. Pen states, I leave to the various futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths, (Almeida 125). The words can be perceived to touch on his theories which are affiliated with time. The time, in this case, puts into view dimensions whereby pen perceives that the time dimensions will not all include his garden which indicates that there exists alternate time dimensions. Albert states, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Tsui Pen, he choosessimultaneouslyall of them. He creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork (5-6), a perspective that he perceives to be common in most narratives. According to one of Pens perspectives, the time dimensions tend to be infinite as every decision made is duplicated into more decisions which also influence more decisions into a state of ad nauseam. Tsun appears to be convinced by the theory. However, Albert explains that it is possible that among his pasts, Tsun was an enemy in one of them and a friend in another. Despite the analogy being subtle, it can be viewed to interest Tsun such that it provokes him. Tsun thinks to himself, It seemed to me that the humid garden that surrounded the house was infinitely saturated with invisible persons. Those persons were Albert and I, secret, busy and multiform in other dimensions of time (Almeida 127). The example is viewed to illustrate that Tsun is either engage in imagination or is connected to one of the time dimensions. His mind takes a slight shift such that he refrains from the view present in Pens book whereby he described is an unclear collection of contradicting notions. However, he believes that the book possible explains reality.

The change in Tsuns perception is considered significant as it aligns with the despair that he experiences when the story ends. Tsun states, No one can knowmy innumerable contrition and weariness (Chibka 101) during his explanation regarding Alberts death. His exhibits regret and guilt in addition to weariness. Albert uses the term innumerable in most occasions when discussing the dimensions of time. In one occasion, he states, Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures (Chibka, 104). The term can be used to describe Tsuns emotions as innumerable similarly to time. In other words, Tsun experiences guilt and worry due to the belief that there exists alternate dimensions. Also, his viewed heroism act which aimed at impressing the chief become irrelevant because the chief did not indicate any form of heroism among his people in the alternate time dimensions. Before Tsun came to hear about Pens theories, he held the belief that time was only singular and linear which meant that he was capable of proving himself and individuals in the community in the existing reality. Nonetheless, Albert states, We do not exist in the majority of these [all possibilities of time]; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us (Chibka 107). In other words, the existence of infinite realities limits Tsun from engaging in any heroic act. It is perceived that Tsuns responses is in two dimensions whereby he exhibits regret with the view that the associated task was challenging and he exhibits weariness for failure to achieve his task. He turns to regret after recognizing that Alberts death was not worth it. Tsun views himself as significant in the presence of alternate time dimensions.

The facts about the story appears to exist in a reality of unbounded measurements of time, and the story does not resolve an opening quote, which recommends the story itself is unending. The basic structure that underlies the narrative starts with yet another likeness when the narrator extrapolates the first two pages of the document are not available. Whereas this clarification informs the reader about the missing initial pages of the document, it may also divert the reader form another truthful information: that the underlined features an opening quotation marks that is never finalized. This unavailable citation is especially critical, in light of the fact that it connotes that the documents has not appropriately finished. The exclusion also seems to be of much value as it is related to Alberts assertions that an infinite story embraces all the likely possibilities. Having a clear thought on this direction the exclusion of quotation marks implies the finalization of the story, in any case, that there are an endless number of option adaptations of this story that come after it .for example Tsun laments that in the initial chapter of Pens novel the champion passes by while in the fourth he is alive, which happens because Pen adopts the idea of all possibilities if a similar way , its looks that the ending of the story is an intervention or incomplete ending that should have been followed by another story of similar nature, which takes in to account all the different possibilities (Almeida 122). Assuming it is genuine, the only means the story could have finished with citation is whether the story was told contrastingly each time grasping each and every single different decision and afterward investigating the consequences of that decision to endlessly. Most likely, such a story would be unbounded. It appears to be at that duration, that the storyteller presents a quote while never resolving it, with a specific end goal to show that the story, similar to Pen's novel, is both in text and unending.

In Borges story, it makes someone completely baffled, showing his inventiveness and undeniably thick. Nevertheless close readings seem to appreciate the reader with, if not anything else, challenging, mind-amending thoughts. The story in itself is quite simple; yet one should take note that the story is likely to be used in order to bring about a discussion on the nature of time. The negotiations about time however seems to be the most important to the narrative itself, because it makes Tsun come to terms and believe that the underlined dimensions of time are endless, which leads him to contrition and this manner, the subject of time is more significant both as metaphysical conversation, and in the manner that it affects Tsun intense addition to the logic of the story appears to show that time is actually endless in measurement which is quite critical since the story brings about enough room for the interpretation to suggest that the story itself is unbounded. Excluding even this thought possibly acts as a likeliness that diverts the readers attention form the unprecedented and terrifying likeliness: that our current reality exists alongside an unbounded number of actuality separated only by time (Almeida 148).

As stated earlier, the focus of the analysis is on the labyrinth regarding nature of time as illustrated in the story, The Garden of Forking Paths by Jose Luis Borges. Some of the highlighted issues by scholars include the labyrinth found in the text and the views regarding the nature of time. Time is viewed to possess alternate dimensions. The knowledge on alternate dimensions makes Tsun regret his action of killing Albert.

Works Cited

Almeida, Ivan. Un hecho inquietante: Borges sigue publicando. Variaciones Borges. 16 (2003): 227-235.

Balderston, Daniel. Historical Situations in Borges. MLN. 105 (2) Hispanic Issue (March, 1990): 331-350

Borges, Jorge Luis. The Garden of Forking Paths. CS 32: Puzzles, Games, & Algorithms. Trans. Donald A. Yates. Annotated Robert R....

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