Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)


Gemma Curto


The article proposes a methodology for the analysis of the logical structure of the time and plot in Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Garden of Forking Paths” (1941). It builds on the ways Borges transmutes mathematical aesthetics into language through the lens of chaos theory and its links with literature. It becomes apparent that “The Garden” is a metaphor for a mathematical concept of time and its infinite bifurcations. This analysis of the ‘orderly disordered’ narrative focuses on the three main properties of chaotic systems in “The Garden”. Secondly, temporal iteration and folding become the main structural devices employed by establishing analogies among fictional levels. In “The Garden”, Borges describes a novel by Ts’ui Pên whose plot bifurcates at every point in time, with all the possible worlds coexisting in some sort of ‘super-space’ and ‘super-time’ coalescing in a moment. Then, the analysis shows that the story is a deterministic system by means of the moment-bound nature of the events. Thirdly, “The Garden” is sensitive to initial conditions because small changes generate infinite bifurcations. A close reading through the recursive symmetries across narrative levels confirms the structural pattern and elicits the experience of time as being complex and dynamic.

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