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Breakout Of The Fictions

From: Colin Bennett <colin@bennettc25.fsnet.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 04:12:24 +0100
Fwd Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 10:14:16 -0400
Subject: Breakout Of The Fictions

Breakout Of The Fictions

As a newcomer to the List, I thought I might offer a new idea.

On re-reading Borges=92 short story Tl=F6n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,
it occurred to me that there might be something of genuine MJ12
interest in this curious tale. Though according to Andre
Maurois, Borges wrote the first version of his story in 1940, it
first appeared in the Argentinean Spanish-language publication
Ficciones in 1945. It is odd than no MJ12 researcher appears to
have noticed this work. It outlines no less the complete body of
the MJ12 story, and was written significantly within that
stretch of years representing the formative middle-ranking
period and accelerated wartime promotions of the significant top
players of MJ12.

Since a great planetary war was raging, intellectual life and
literature and the arts had come almost to a stop, and therefore
what little literary activity there was (particularly of the
avant guard type) existed in the form of very few magazines,
often of an A5 size, such as the British Lilliput and Men Only
(this latter has no connection to its modern equivalent!) that
could be carried in the map pocket of a military uniform. Short
stories and short articles were all that existed practically for
contemporary intellectual food, received and absorbed as it was
under often very strenuous work and battle conditions It is
possible therefore that Borges=92 original story was sought out in
these conditions by very small elite groups such as those who
worked on the Manhattan Project. It can easily be imagined for
example, that the main high-level high-IQ figures around
Oppenheimer (including Teller, Fermi etc) reading at least the
earliest version of Tl=F6n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Richard Feynman
for one, would have loved it. The Los Alamos staff in particular
would hardly been able to avoid Spanish-American culture.
Needing intellectual food in their mental and physical isolation
they would in all likelihood have sought it from such
Argentinean writers as Borges whose country was hardly affected
physically by war, and whose publishing and printing houses
still had time, inclination, and materials for such luxuries as
free literary expression

Of all writers Borges is the most difficult to summarise. I have
attempted such a sacrilege to give only the briefest outline of
Tl=F6n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Those who wish to read the whole
amazing story can find it in the Penguin Modern Classics edition
entitled Labyrinths.

The story begins with Borges=92 friend Bioy Casares, remarking to
Borges that mirrors have =93something monstrous about them=94. He
adds that he remembers a quotation declaring that both =93mirrors
and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number
of men=94. Borges asks Casares about the source of this remarkable
thought, and Casares says that he remembers it from the Anglo
American Cyclopedia (sic) that attributed the statement to one
of the heresiarchs of Uqbar (pronounce erkbar as in Ur-text).
This being a country neither Borges nor Casares can remember
ever have heard of, the pair decide to trace the exact source of
the quotation. But despite both men being expert researchers and
dedicated fanatical litt=E9rateurs, Uqbar cannot be traced in
standard editions of the Anglo American Cyclopedia. A name such
as Uqbar should appear phonetically in the XLVI volume of the
Cyclopedia, but there is no trace of it there.

The following day Casares calls Borges from Argentina and says
that he has made a truly remarkable discovery. He has in his
hands a XLVI volume of the Cyclopedia, but this volume has 921
pages and not the usual 917! These extra pages describe the
country of Uqbar, and Borges has in his hands a =93vast methodical
fragment of an unknown planet=92s entire history=94. But this is a
very different universe. Its geometry is quite different from
the ones we know, just as is its use of metaphor and
mathematical logic.

These few pages hint that they are drawn from some complete
encyclopedia consisting of many volumes.

Years later, Borges has the good fortune to come across a single
volume of this vast work. This is A First Encyclopedia of Tl=F6n,
Vol. XI. Hlaer to Jangr. Tl=F6n (pronounced as the =93o=94 in =93nose=94)
is the planet on which Uqbar in located. In Volume XI there are
allusions to preceding and succeeding volumes, as well as a much
more detailed description of the land of Uqbar and culture and
inhabitants. These other volumes have never been found, despite
Borges and his colleagues upending =93the libraries of the two
Americas and Europe=94.

But at this point in the story, all appears to be explained.
Borges discovers that the partial and fragmentary texts are the
work of a secret cabal of scholars whose forgeries have been
carefully built over hundreds of years by generations of
dedicated and specially chosen disciples. These scholars have
left fragmentary footprints of their terrifyingly detailed
labours in sole support of the idea that only the utterly
astounding is in any sense =93real=94. This singular binding idea of
Tl=F6n culture supports both morals and mathematics, and the view
that metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature.

But to what point, other than demonstrating an entertaining (but
a little precious) cleverness as regards the theory of
literature and imagination?

Borges continues his tale. He tells of the purchase by a certain
Princess Faucigny of a strange compass whose needle =93longs for
magnetic north=94 but will not point in such a direction. Around
the concave (!) metal case is inscribed the alphabet of Tl=F6n.
Some months later, he comes across a small metal cone dropped by
a dying drunk outside a primitive lodging. This cone is
impossibly heavy, and such cones in the =93fictional=94 country of
Tl=F6n are =93images of the divinity in certain regions of Tl=F6n=94.

Both the extraordinary compass and the super-dense cone are
breakthroughs in part of the world of Tl=F6n, appearing appearing
in our own world just as certainly as a foot is put through a
faulty floor. Borges finds himself in the middle of an
interpenetration of worlds, the kind of thing which we are now
gingerly approaching legitimately by tentatively rehearsing such
ideas as =93quantum entanglement=94.

Of course it follows that once the hair-line cracks appear,
greater penetration follows. Borges continues his story by
saying that =93around 1944=94 a researcher for the newspaper The
American eventually brought to light in a Memphis library the
forty volumes of the First Encyclopedia of Tl=F6n. In these
(obviously later) volumes, the fantastic aspects of the previous
descriptions of Tl=F6n culture have been toned down somewhat. =93It
is reasonable to imagine=94, says Borges =93that these omissions
follow the plan of exhibiting a world which is not too
incompatible=94 with that world we ourselves experience as =93real=94.
Suitable modified and re-designed, effective seeding of the
interpenetrating world of Tl=F6n does indeed take place: =93=85the
international press infinitely proclaimed the =91find=92. Manuals,
anthologies, summaries, literal versions, authorized re-editions
and pirated editions flooded and still flood the earth. Almost
immediately reality yielded on more than one account. The truth
is that it longed to yield.=94

Borges concludes by giving us nothing less than the theory of
conspiracy theory brought to its ultimate conclusion and summed
to infinity. Already he says, the history of Tl=F6n has wiped out
the history of his childhood: Perhaps, for the invasion of Tl=F6n
we may read ufology=92s progress through Adamski via von Daniken
to Area 51, complete with the equivalent to elliptical
compasses, super-heavy cones, in terms of streams of
hieroglyphics on Roswell debris, and very strange crash-
retrieval manuscripts arriving from nowhere: =93=85a fictitious past
occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which
we know nothing with certainty =96 not even that it is false=94.

His punchline is an anticipation of both the formation of MJ12
and Eisenhower=92s early warning (in his retirement speech)
warning about the power of scientific elites. Borges says =93a
scattered dynasty of solitary men has changed the face of the
world. Their task continues=94. And sounding rather like Charles
Fort, he continues: =93If our forecasts are not in error a hundred
years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the
Second Encylopedia of Tl=F6n. Then English and French and mere
Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tl=F6n.=94

Already the =93alien=94 is breaking through in the manner of an
object from Tlon. Perhaps gung-ho alien base believers are not
right or wrong, but have gone too far too soon. The alien as
Tl=F6n artifact can only intrude first in a version that is
psychologically scaled down, such as the heavy cone, which is of
no use to anyone. Even the most conservative of scientists admit
that yes the alien is there, but is impossible to get at =96 they
exist millions of totally inaccessible light years away. Then,
as cultural time passes, the alien life form gets nearer: the
alien is now small, a bio-particle in the frozen waters of Mars.
As the metaphors expand further (and metaphors are the purest
form of show business) we (officially) prepare legal grounds
concerning alien rights. A the same time as we do this, we
prepare to demolish the space and time separating us by (at
first) teleporting a laser beam. Thus the very gradual approach
to the acceptance of the alien idea: we =93accept=94 covertly and
otherwise a series of scaled-down rehearsals in the manner of
the teleportations of Tl=F6n, of which the UFO could be just one.

Often we hear of the idea of a paradigm being operational in
human affairs. If we could put a paradigm under a microscope,
its interior structure would show up as linked metaphors that
can be looked upon as almost live information animals
themselves. The metaphors of Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius are
analogous with very possible line of development of ideas that
might just have appealed to the first-generation elitists of the
young military-industrial complex. The metaphors binding these
men together and the themes of Borges=92 story are very close. As
first-generation nuclear scientists that knew that in the heart
of the nuclear furnace input may or may not equal output.
Perhaps some of these men were of the opinion that the ideas of
fission and chain reaction with which they had played with so
long could possibly go into action as metaphors and produce the
kind of quantum interpenetration described by Borges.

The MJ12 group was a proud techno-aristocracy. Well-heeled and
over-protected, and presumably as fond of decadent games as is
every aristocracy. Could some of these socially isolated people,
over-endowed with brain (as was Borges), in a supremely decadent
moment, have cooked something up from this story? Inward
looking, and possibly in a state of shock after the most intense
five years any human could live through, they faced an immediate
post-war world that they did not understand, and moreover a
world that had taken their youth away, and given almost all of
them fatal cancers. As Eisenhower hinted, certainly Borges=92
ideas could have represented to them a kind of fantastic super-
science, the next quantum step as regards conceptions of Matter
and Idea, and there were as many forms of such things flying
around Los Alamos in the late forties as there were desert
flies. As Friedman and the Woods have so convincingly
demonstrated, the MJ12 papers show access to vintage top-secret
material. Is it possible that like the heresiarchs of Uqbar, the
elite of the military-industrial-complex attempted the
experiment of seeding powerful suggestions if only to sit back
and watch such new-born information animals attempt to clone
themselves, producing almost-appearances and almost-objects such
as the UFO?

And when they had done so, did they attempt unsuccessfully to
shut the pile down?

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