From: Colin Bennett <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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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