Borges would’ve loved YouTube. That’s what I thought as I watched the video. It’s a video of two people reacting to a video of a man reacting to a woman reacting to a Chewbacca mask she just bought. Yes that’s two reactions on top of one video. Forming a somewhat golden ratio in screens one on top of each other. And as I watched I had the feeling of watching our entertainment mediums folding on itself.
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator. I’ve been reading his work lately in my efforts to improve my literary literacy. I’ve just finished “Ficciones”, one of the two short story collections that gave Borges worldwide fame. There are two major kinds of stories: 1) Idea based, 2) Mock or fictional reviews about imaginary things.
Library of Babel, the Garden of Forking Path, The Lottery of Babylon are famous examples of the first kind. And Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius , The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim, Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote are three of the latter category. Here he writes scholarly articles about imaginary writers, imaginary works and imaginary encyclopedias which are in turn about an imaginary civilization on an imaginary planet.
Some of these might not seem so great feats of brilliance to you but just consider works of Ted Chiang. The writer recently shot to pop culture fame due to the Denis Villeneue movie Arrival. Lifecycle of Software Objects, Tower of Babylon, Alchemist’s Gate, Story of your life etc are idea based short stories like Borges. He writes one of these per year and most of them won Hugo or Nebula awards of those respective years. Now consider the brilliance of Borges and the amount of work he produced. (But you see by considering Ted Chiang by the way of Borges gives rise to a philosophical problem itself termed “Borges Conundrum”.)