Believing is Seeing, DWJ, and JL Borges

lpuszcz at lpuszcz at
Thu Jul 27 16:44:39 EDT 2000

The digest message about the call for papers on DWJ reminded me of
something I intended to post to the list before, but had forgotten.  In
the Introduction to Believing is Seeing, IIRC, DWJ talks about a Borges
story that she read and forgot (I can't double check; the library demanded
their book back several weeks ago.  Has anyone ever felt the temptation to 
(ahem) permanently boorow a book from the library, feeling that you could
give it a much better home?  Not that I ever do this, of course, but the
temptation is often there...:) )  Anyway, I was re-reading a few Borges
stories in preparation for the Dreaded Comps and I came across this
passage. See if this reminds you of anyone:

"The phrase, "To various future times, but not to all" suggested the image
of bifurcating in time, not in space.  Rereading the whole work confirmed
this theory.  In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives he
chooses one at the expense of the others.  In the almost unfathomable 
Ts'ui Pen, he chooses---simultaneously--all of them. He thus creates
various futures, various times which start others that will in their time
branch out and bifurcate in other times.  This is the cause of the
contradictions in the novel.

"Fang, let us say, has a secret.  A stranger knocks at his door.
Fang makes up his mind to kill him.  Naturally there are various possible
outcomes. Fang can kill the intruder, the intruder can kill Fang, both can
be saved, both can die and so on and so on.  In Ts'ui Pen's work, all the
possible solutions occur, each one being the point of departure for other
bifurcations.  Sometimes the pathway converge.  For example, you come to
this house; but in other possible pasts you are my enemy; in others my
		--"The Garden of Forking Paths" in _Ficciones_ by Borges, 
			trans. Anthony Kerigan, p 98   

Isn't that amazing? When I read that, I immediately thought of _Witch
Week_.  Hey, for any DWJ scholars out there, I think a paper on the
influences of Borges on DWJ would be fascinating.


To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list