No.9: the interstices of unreason (Jorge Luis Borges + Charles Fort)
“the interstices of unreason” in the fabric of reality
– Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Avatars of the Tortoise’; I’m indebted to William Rowlandson for bringing the phrase to my attention
And here are some links.
There is a part of us that is magical, unreasonable, alive.
Enchantment and taboo always go together – like glamour and lawlessness. They’re the two sides of the drama: that which gives things their place, which injects life into them.
Of course, it’s an invasion: insistent, unreasonable. But it releases something too – something that has enough heat and darkness to flow on, flow on. It may look as if it’s stopped or disappeared. In fact, it’s just gone underground. It’s waiting for us.
Every day someone gets a sign
It rips apart the fabric of their daily lives.
Reality is too much for us to take in all the time. This is a kind of subversion and it’s woven into the very fabric of existence.
There is a universe – a reality – that has existed since the human race began (actually, since time began). It is vast and unpredictable. There aren’t many signposts and those that exist are often misleading or written in code. So it’s easy to get lost. But the possibilities are endless. There’s a lot of power available – too much, some say. Like a ten-foot wave, it can roll you over and bury you. It can’t be controlled. It’s slippery, fickle. Search through every other universe in existence and you’ll never find anything like it. Yet it’s round every corner, ticking over easily, ready to go.
The hit comes out of reality and gets us – and then we go after it. It can break through in any guise. This leads us into that hall of mirrors known as illusion and reality. The ultimate frontier. But the true and the false do not exist in themselves with a frontier between them; the frontier creates them. And it isn’t straight. It moves. Sometimes it’s narrow, sometimes it’s wide and most of the time it’s invisible. It’s the source of all secrets, riddles and jokes, the source of all knowledge. Things are not what they seem: they’re both more and less. And so are we.
We’re bound to break out sometime, somewhere. It’s what human beings do: reinvent reality, which is to say create and distort it. And it’s done by being short-circuited, by being hit. The hit comes out of the gaps. So do we.
Reality leaves a lot to the imagination – and it’s the hit that lets us in on the secret.
Of course, all order is found in reality – and so are all departures from it.
When you’ve been hit, the game of love and disguise begins.
There is no reality without identity, and identity is a show. I’d say ‘Work that one out’ but you already are. You’re alive.
Here’s some more Borges (p.52)
THE ULTIMATE DERANGEMENT
In his story, ‘The Lottery in Babylon’, Jorge Luis Borges gives an account of how life – social life – came to be as it is. The lottery started as you’d expect: you buy a ticket and win a few silver coins. Then negative prizes – fines – were introduced. Why? To thicken the plot. Then non-monetary prizes, both positive and negative. You come home and hear a nightingale. You’ve won the lottery. You come home and find a dead body. You’ve won the lottery. How did you enter? You don’t know. Someone entered you.
Who knows the history of the lottery? No one. Even if you came across such an account, all that would show is that you’ve won the lottery.
Of course, the lottery has no beginning and no end. (And no sides either, come to that.) Performance becomes reality, a non-stop variety show that is both trivial and full of dread. It’s being put together right now.
And here’s a metaphysical buddy of his (though they did not know each other), Charles Fort (p.136)
We conceive of all ‘things’ as occupying gradations, or steps, between positiveness and negativeness or realness and unrealness…
This is Charles Fort (1874-1932), an American researcher who collected reports of anomalous phenomena: falls of frogs (and other creatures and non-creatures), UFOs (years before ‘modern’ UFOism, which began after WW2), bizarre beasts (some living, some fossils – in places they shouldn’t be, should they ‘be’ at all). Fort called these anomalies the ‘Damned’: events that won’t fit in with common sense or an ordered, lawful view of reality.