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Edited by Suzanne Kite
Introduction by Martin Plot
Tanks to Charles Gaines
Press: Rachel Kennedy
Cover: David Chathas
Martn Plot
In Theme of the Traitor and the Hero Borges begins, in a quite characteristic manner, by introducing uncertain-
ties into the very heart of the narrators perspective:
Details, rectifcations, adjustments are lacking; there are zones of the story not yet revealed to me; today, January
, 1944, I seem to see it as follows:

The action takes place in an oppressed and tenacious country: Poland, Ireland, the Venetian Republic, some South
American or Balkan state... Let us say (for narrative convenience) Ireland; let us say in 1824. The narrators name
is Ryan; he is the great-grandson of the young, the heroic, the beautiful, the assassinated Fergus Kilpatrick.
Borges tells us that Ryan decided to write his great-grandfathers biography and thus conducted a careful historio-
graphical investigation. It is during this inquiry that our character identifes a certain cyclic nature to the events,
combining and repeating traces of remote regions, of remote ages. And the most noticeable of these recurrences
revealed that the offcers who examined the heros body found a sealed letter in which he was warned of the risk
of attending the theatre that evening; likewise Julius Caesar. Again, as often happens in Borges, the character
then engages in a complex metaphysical or even mythical elaboration, only to later been proven wrong by the
all-too-human intertwining intricacies of empirical reality and other peoples agency:
[The parallelisms] between the story of Caesar and the story of an Irish conspirator lead Ryan to suppose the
existence of a secret form of time, a pattern of repeated lines. He thinks of the decimal history conceived by
Condorcet, of the morphologies proposed by Hegel, Spengler and Vico, of Hesiods men, who degenerate from
gold to iron. He thinks of the transmigration of souls. [...] He is rescued from these circular labyrinths by a curious
fnding, a fnding which then sinks him into other, more inextricable and heterogeneous labyrinth: certain words
uttered by a beggar who spoke with Fergus Kilpatrick the day of his death were prefgured by Shakespeare in the
tragedy Macbeth. That history should have copied history was already suffciently astonishing; that history should
copy literature was inconceivable...
As it turns out, Ryan fnally discovers that the historical truth of what had happened to his great-grandfather was
political, not metaphysical. Kilpatricks murder had indeed taken place in a theatre, but in reality it was the entire
event that had been a representation: Kilpatricks fellow militants in the struggle for Irish independence had found
him to be a traitor, but since his executionand thus the revelation of his infamywould have been devastating
to their cause, they decided to disguise the punishment as an English crime. Borges central interrogation in the
story is evident: What should be given primacy to, the revelation of the moral indignity of the traitors deeds or the
political appearance of the heros martyrdom? Confronted with the dilemma of executing the traitor or mourning
the hero, the militants chose the latter: a political no-brainer. Borges anticipated us, however, that the political
labyrinth would be even more inextricable and heterogeneous than the metaphysical one, and concludes the story,
as if talking about a fction pieceand he of course waswith the following lines In Nolans work, the passages
imitated from Shakespeare are the least dramatic; Ryan suspects that the author interpolated them so that in the
future someone might hit upon the truth. He understands that he too forms part of Nolans plot... Afer a series of
tenacious hesitations, he resolves to keep his discovery silent. He publishes a book dedicated to the heros glory;
this too, perhaps, was foreseen.
Nolans original decision, the one made under the compelling urgency of events, gave primacy to the political over
the moralor better put, found a way of making (political) virtue out of (moral) necessity. Ryans dilemma, on the
other hand, was fundamentally diferentor was it? Te dilemma was, rather, more heterogeneous: it added to
the original dilemma, which of course remained valid, a new one of truth vs. politicswhich was of course already
present in the frst decision, only that their comparative weight now got reversed. For Ryan, the meaning of the
political appearance of Kilpatrick the revolutionary hero prevailed this second time not only over the moral indig-
nity of his treason but also over the historical truth of having unveiled it over a century later. Te story should not
of course be read, in its turn, morally: Borges is not telling us that morality and (historical) truth do not matter or,
even less so, that Nolan and Ryan choices are his. What Borges is doing is interrogating the meaning of the politi-
cal, and in doing so he identifes it as being aesthetico-political.
Borges is for very good reasons regarded as a fundamentally philosophical writer. Tose reasons, however, are not
based on the assumption that to practice philosophy is to ofer solutions to questions regarding the human condi-
tion or some other metaphysical perplexities. Neither in his poems and short stories nor in his non-fction essays
Borges ofers solutions or morals to the problems of aesthetic form, political coexistence, or epistemological inqui-
ry. What Borges ofers are interrogations. Argentine literary historian and cultural critic Beatriz Sarlo says in her
description of what she calls Borges philosophical narrative situations (or presentations,) that Borges stories are
the narrative mise-en-scene of a question which is not posed overtly but which is presented, in the fction, through
the development of a plot. No defnitive answer to the question is, of course, ofered in these philosophical narra-
tive situations. Borges, she continues, created a type of fction in which ideas are not discussed through the char-
acters, nor presented to the reader for consideration over and above the enjoyment of an unfolding narrative plot.
On the contrary, ideas are the very stuf of the plot, and they shape it from the inside.
Borges refections on phil-
osophical topics indeed never appearin his fctions and poems, but also ofen neither in his non-fction essays
as Borges own views. However, it is clear that, to Borges, the fact of him actually holding those views or not was
irrelevant. To us, as readers, it should appear in the same light: Borges interrogates about possible political (and, of
course, aesthetic) questions in the context of which, if we feel so inclined, sides could be taken, as Borges himself
did as citizen and non-fction writer. But that is not what is at the center of his political interrogation. Borrowing
from French philosopher Claude Leforts refections on the relations between fction and philosophical writing,
we could say that the philosopheror at least the philosopher who has already abandoned the position of high
altitude thinkingis not someone altogether diferent from the fction writer. Te philosopher is a writer-thinker
whose writing, and whose thinking, are not only intertwined and indeed inseparable, but also laboriously engage
in the practice of trying to gain the ability to think what is itself seeking to be thought. [] Te [writer-thinker]
doesnt leave the cave, says Lefort, he or she only tries to gain the power to advance in the darkness.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths. New York: New Directions, 1964, p. 72. Te following quotes come from here.
Sarlo, Beatriz. Jorge Luis Borges: A Writer on the Edge. London: Verso, p. 54-5.
Lefort, Claude. Writing. Te Political Test. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000, p. XLII.
Various Futures: Borges, Game Teory, and an Intangible Swarming
Nathaniel Deines
Writing about Borges (or, if you prefer, with Borges) presents an interesting challenge. Every reading of
his short works produces new thoughts, casts some light however dim into another twisted corner of his lab-
yrinth. Invariably, I write a paragraph about some small thought that the reading provoked and halfway through
the paragraph I return to that same passage to confrm some aspect of the little thought and, in my rereading,
Im confronted with a completely new and possibly contradictory thought. Never has the word passage enjoyed
such a full double meaning. More than any author Ive read, his work is like a Hereclitean river. It seems especially
ftting to Borges that Hereclitus famed quote about how you never step into the same river twice is apocryphal.
Furthermore, it is ofen the case that readers of this fantastic quote focus on its object rather than its subject. In
fact, more important than the ever-changing river is the ever-changing you. Tis is reading Borges. In reading
him, we become a bit like Pierre Menard. Te words, Oh time thy pyramids! over a cup of tea in the morning
are completely diferent than the words, Oh time thy pyramids! later in that same day or afer fxing a fat tire
or trying to kiss someone who refuse you. For example, in that same story about Te Quixote the narrator claims
that, there is no exercise of the intellect which is not, in the fnal analysis, useless. (43) Perhaps in this moment
those words ring true but, it is also possible, afer reading the following pages they will inspire in you a despondent
It would take only the scantest powers of observation to notice the surfeit of games in the work of Borges.
Tere are games with pieces and games with people. Games with time and games with space. In his pages he has
created a world of games, some of which were not always conscious of playing. Tere is too, outside of Borges,
another world of games: Game Teory. Game Teory, as I will demonstrate, is more than just a system for making
strategic decisions; it is also part of a problematic relationship to the world, to time, and to others. In this paper
I will attempt to investigate the forms of games that can be found in the writing of Borges (focusing almost ex-
clusively on the work found in the Labyrinths collection for no other reason but to shield myself from an embar-
rassment of riches, source-wise), examine the implication of Game Teory principals in his work, allude to their
political implications, and explore the political alternatives Borges presents. As you will see, Game Teory presents
an anticipation of the world that is rationally determined and our good Mr. Borges believes in infnity and idealism
and, as such, is at least suspicious of that kind of determinism and is quite possibly violently opposed to it.
It should be established immediately that the book, or the story, is one of Borgess games. Te one he plays
best. Te book is a labyrinth and the labyrinth is a game. Tis observation functions on a number of levels: Te
game, like the book, is always a reduction. It is a simplifed scenario of a functionally infnite system and Borges
famously questioned why anyone would write a book when a summary would sufce. A full-length book is still a
reduction, no book can contain the totality (a fact Borges toys with in a number of stories {see Book of Sand, Te
Library of Babel, Te Aleph}), but the book and the labyrinth share a specifc quality diferent from many other
games to which game theory is typically applied. Tat is, the book and the labyrinth are both given to the player/s.
Books and labyrinths are diferent from say, chess, in that an author designed them (see Garden of Forking
Paths) and this author/reader relationship constitutes the game. Te cryptogram, documents like the Sefer Yet-
zirah, and the secret pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (all noted preoccupations of Borges) also fall into this
category of game. Games like these present an incongruity with Game Teory in that the opponent, if we can call
it that, is the author/god. In this sense, the opponent has perfect information about the game. S/he knows all the
possible solutions, is totally aware of the order that exists beyond the understanding of the player. Similarly, the
cryptographer knows the cipher that will reveal the true meaning of the text, the pious kabbalist knows how to
pray things into existence or how to pronounce gods secret name. And, of course, god knows all this as well.
Tere is, in fact, a sense that this genre of game is of a higher order to Borges. Note that chess in particular
is a game ofen mentioned in the context of its own dismissal. Tat is to say, there are instances when characters
have interest in chess and then give it up for more satisfying endeavors. Pierre Menard explores a modifcation of
chess before beginning the Quixote, Herbert Ashe plays taciturn games of chess before the arrival of the eleventh
volume of the Encyclopedia of Tln bursts an artery in his brain, Jeromir Hladicks nightmare before his execution
(and miraculous completion of his magnum opus) is set on a giant chessboard, and in Te Garden of Forking Paths
Stephen Albert describes Tsu Pn as, Governor of his native province, learned in astronomy, and in the tireless
interpretation of the canonical books, chess player, famous poet and calligrapherhe abandoned all this in order
to compose a book and a maze. He renounced the pleasures of both tyranny and justice, of his populous couch, of
his banquets and even of erudition (24) Chess is a preliminary state and a regrettable one. Chess is a problem.
In many ways, the issues Borges takes with chess are congruent with the political underpinnings of his
work. Ill return to the examples found in other stories later on, but for the moment Alberts description of Tsu
Pns life and career trajectory identifes a number of these concerns in a single sentence that we can address point
by point.
First, let us consider Pns former position as governor of a province. Here we fnd the mark of politics (not
the political, per se). Te game of chess is a model of the world that is compatible with a certain kind of political
outlook, such as the one outlined in Carl Schmitts Political Teology. It is an imposed order that reduces interac-
tion between individuals to a binarial, adversarial relationship. Te world is literally black and white, cooperation
is nonexistent, and, most importantly for the Schmittian doctrine, is necessarily constituted by the distinction
between friend and enemy. Furthermore, the pieces within the chess game are based on a monarchical structure,
which itself is based on a theological structure, thereby operating within Schmitts assertion that all aspects of the
political are secularized theological systems.
Similarly, Pn has renounced the pleasures of both tyranny and justice. Rather than a Schmittian reading
of this renunciation, I think Michel Foucault is more useful whenduring a 1971 televised debate with Noam
Chomksy (with whom I expect Borges would share more afnities than with Foucault)he remarked,
If you like, I will be a little bit Nietzschean about this; in other words, it seems to me that the idea of justice in
itself is an idea which in efect has been invented and put to work in diferent types of societies as an instrument
of a certain political and economic power or as a weapon against that power. But it seems to me that, in any case,
the notion of justice itself functions within a society of classes as a claim made by the oppressed class and as justi-
fcation for it.
In this way, justice and (by extension) tyranny are but game pieces in the imposed order of class-divided societies.
Describing them as pleasures then is hilariously apt. Tey are invented, stabilized concepts (pawns, to use the
common analogy) in which we indulge ourselves when it suits our agendas. Tey ofer the appearance of certainty
and reassure us of the order of the system.
To be frank the bits about astronomy and calligraphy do not make compelling additions to this argument
or, rather, I did not make them compelling so I have elected to omit them. One ought to be cautious of allegedly
complete texts anyway.
Te mention of canonical texts accesses an essential component of Borgesian critique. To canonize is to os-
sify. It is to impose an enduring identity for what is in fact an arbitrary collection of objects and for Borges, I would
argue, this imposition of order onto chaos is the stuf that fascism is made of. Borges interrogates the canonization
of texts directly and charmingly in Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius when he details the idealist version of authorship
wherein, critics ofen invent authors: they select two dissimilar worksthe Tao Te Ching and the 1001 Nights,
sayattribute them to the same writer and then determine most scrupulously the psychology of this interesting
homme de lettres (13) But Borges also interrogates this ossifcation of identity directly in works like Borges and
I and its tragic verso: Everything and Nothing.
To modern readers, poetry may seem incongruous with the other forms of order-imposition but this in-
congruity can be challenged with a historical context and a consideration of language in general. Historically, Hsi
Pngs story takes place in 1912, which would place his grandfathers life roughly in the Late Qing period, teeter-
ing on the edge of the advent of literary modernism in China. Toroughly classical, poetry at that time would be
highly ordered. More interesting, perhaps, is a larger view of language as an imposed order with its own ensuing
power relationships. In an undated television interview he declares that, Language is an artifcial system that has
nothing to do with reality. He challenges the confnements of language in a number of ways but most notably by
imagining truly idealist languages such as in Te Immortal where he writes, I thought of a world without memory,
without time; I considered the possibility of a language without nouns, a language of impersonal verbs or inde-
clinable epithets, (112) and in Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius he writes, Teir language and the derivations of their
languagereligion, letters, metaphysicsall presuppose idealism. Te world for them is not a concourse of objects
in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial. (8) Te world
of chess is this idealists opposite. It is composed of objects in restricted space and these objects are necessarily
defned by their qualities. Tere is not a knightness or a bishopness outside of their function. A knight moves up
three and over one, a bishop moves diagonally until impeded. Tere are no qualities of the knight or the bishop
that are contestable or subject to experience. Tey are fxed material entities operating within an internally consis-
tent system that is only the dimmest refection of reality.
Such is the chess world: the allegiance to the arbitrary imposition of order. It is in this world that Game
Teory can function with the most predictive capabilities. Game Teory is largely applied to economic decision
making as a methodology for determining the actions of rivals. But its desperately rational strategies have enjoyed
implementation on a world stage as well. One need think only of the Cuban Missile Crisis and, really, the Cold War
in general. More recently that special brand of brinksmanship was played out during the contrived Federal Debt
If you are unfamiliar with Game Teory, I can tell you without a moments hesitation that I am not the
right person to explain it. Still, I believe that by touching on a few of its aspects (some of which have already been
mentioned or alluded to) its relevance to Borges work will become apparent. To state it briefy, Game Teory is
a method of study of the decision making situations of confict. (8) MS To be sure, there are much, much longer
ways to put it. Te essence of its implementation is that entities (who have no specifc knowledge of each others
intended actions) with some kind of shared interest attempt to determine (either in competition or cooperation)
how the resources are to be shared. Anticipating the actions of the opposing entity determine the strategy which
will bring about the most desirable outcome.
Toy games like chess fgure into Borges work but there are also instances of games operating at the narra-
tive level. Tis is not an innovation on the part of Borges. It has been observed, he would likely be the frst to ad-
mit, that his work was infuenced by detective stories from Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, both names
that appear in Game Teory literature. Poes Te Purloined Letter and Doyles Te Final Problem both employ the
simple Matching Pennies game common to Game Teory (feel free to check that one out, even the simplest game
would overwhelm this essay with explanation).
Te clearest implementation of Game Teory-style reasoning occurs in Death and the Compass and Te
Garden of Forking Paths. In the former, Scharlach the Dandy has defly anticipated the actions of Inspector Ln-
nrot in order to kill him in order to revenge an unstated wrong. An essential (and maybe tragic) facet of Game
Teory is the necessity of rational actors. It cannot be applied successfully to irrational decisions unless, of course,
someone is reliably irrational but that distinction is more semantic than practical. Lnnrot, then, is a fne candi-
date for this scenario since he, believed himself a pure reasoned, an Auguste Dupin, but there was something of
the adventurer in him and even a little of the gambler. (76) Devotees will no doubt recognize Dupin as the perspi-
cacious investigator from Poes detective stories (before the term was coined), including Te Purloined Letter, who
is the prototype for Doyles Sherlock who, in turn, appears to be the prototype/namesake for/of Borges antagonist,
albeit altered with an Irish brogue or Hollywood pirate patois.
In typical Borges fashion, he perverts the typical detective story by handing victory to the Inspectors
nemesis. Scharlach cannily orchestrates a series of murders, certain exegetical qualities of which Lnnrot will
fnd irresistible, leading him (Lnnrot) to avail himself to Scharlachs pistol. In Game Teory this kind of strategy
is known as backward induction. Scharlach begins with the desired future endpoint, Lnnrots death, and works
backwards to the present. I include here an image that depicts a backward induction decision tree for the earlier
Cuban Missile Crisis example. It would be difcult, no, it was difcult to try to create a coherent decision tree for
Death and the Compass and so this will have to sufce. What is important about this illustration is the forking
decision tree. Replace Khrushchev and Kennedy with Scharlach and Lnnrot and replace missiles, blockades, and
air strikes with Tetragrammaton-inspired, cardinal-direction killings and you get the idea.
But the purpose of this essay is not to illustrate some conformity of Borges in particular or literature in
general to the insights and formulas of Game Teory. I think its presence is sufciently evident. Te purpose of
the essay is to attempt a deeper understanding of Borges view of the sort of engagement with the world of which
Game Teory is emblematic. Te ending of Death and the Compass begins to articulate this view when Lnnrot,
moments before his death, looked at the trees and the sky subdivided into diamonds of turbid yellow, green and
red. He felt faintly cold, and he felt, too, an impersonalalmost anonymoussadness. (86) Note as well that the
location for this fnal scene is Triste-le-Roy, roy being the Anglicized version of roi, thereby translating literally to
Sad, the King. How can we think of this sad king without thinking of the checkmated King and the sadness that
comes at the fnal, terminal branch of the decision tree? In this place the rhomb Scharlach plotted in murders is
completed, the game has ended.
Te reason Lnnrots sadness is impersonal and almost anonymous is that his death, and the course
which brought him to it, existed entirely outside of himself. Tat is to say, it was determined. Imposed. He believed
himself to be in charge and more than a little clever about everything only to fnd out that his choices had been
made for him. In short, he was not free. Beref of uncertainty and contingency he ceases to exist for himself and
becomes part of the vague material of the universe.
Te Lottery of Babylon describes a republic permeated by a grotesque concept of chance and randomiza-
tion that, in practice, reveals itself to be the opposite: an intense imposition of order. In Game Teory lotteries are
used in investigations of probability and payof and in the story our narrator claims to, come from a dizzy land
where the lottery is the basis of reality, which, operates [] in an imperfect and secret manner. (30) In Baby-
lon the people have abandoned themselves to the vicissitudes of an invisible (downright mythical) administration
known as Te Company. Although the notion of chance is revered to the point fetishization, it is also an operation
determined by a party whose exercise of control is functionally total, perverting the notion of indeterminacy al-
together. Of the Babylonians the narrator says they, ...are not very speculative. Tey revere the judgments of fate,
they deliver them to their lives, their hopes, their panic, but it does not occur to them to investigate fates labyrin-
thine laws nor the gyratory spheres which reveal it. (33) Tey believe every aspect of their lives is determined by
an unseen casting of lots but to such an extent that it becomes parodic and impossible to diferentiate from our
own impression of the world. In this we see again the collapsing of theological and political control. Te particular
use of the Company is even more evocative of totalitarian forms of political order. But Te Lottery of Babylon
entertains the implications of a society structured by games of chance in fairly broad strokes. We should return to
Te Garden of Forking Paths where Borges ofers his most intimate exploration of life chance and determination.
Te Garden of Forking Paths is unique not only for its intimacy but also for the sense in which it articu-
lates its line of fight, the alternative to the determined, Game Teory-style engagement with the world. Contained
within it is many games, but at its essence it is a duel. Let us begin most intimately though, with the contents of
Pngs pockets:
Somethingperhaps the mere vain ostentation of my proving my resources were nilmade me look through my
pockets. I found what I knew I would fnd. Te American watch, the nickel chain and the square coin, the key ring
with the incriminating useless keys to Runebergs apartment, the notebook, a letter which I resolved to destroy
immediately (and which I did not destroy), a crown, two shillings and a few pence, the red and blue pencil, the
handkerchief, the revolver with one bullet. (20)
Tis rummaging takes place on the storys second page and reveals much of what is to come. First, he has
the sensation that something is compelling him to act a certain way, as if he has fallen into a groove in time that
is directing him towards an inexorable conclusion. Tis same sensation appears later in the story as well, such as
the moment when he remarks, Something stirred in my memory and I uttered with incomprehensible certainty,
Te garden (24) Tat he fnds what he knew he would fnd further establishes the notion of a pre-established
telos. Many of the contents of the pocket are suggestive of diferent elements of games: coins for fipping (also the
red and blue pencil, probably used for navigation, is double sided), a watch for time, and the pistol with a single
bullet cannot help but evoke Russian Roulette, one of the most deadly games of all. Also contained in this moment
is an elegant, almost parable-like momentary consideration of freewill and determinacy: his resolve to destroy the
letter and the immediate, parenthetical admission that he did not. Maybe it is overreaching to identify the hand-
kerchief with some notion of obscurity, the je ne sais quoi of the future condition. Im not sure that it works that
way, but Ill mention it anyway.
It is this certainty of action, the foreclosure of possibility, that Png shares with Lnnrot and, to a certain
extent, the people of Babylon. Tis is the critical implication for the use of Game Teory in political decision-mak-
ing. Png remarks, I told myself that the duel had already begun and that I had won the frst encounter by frus-
trating, even if for forty minutes, even if by a stroke of fate, the attack of my adversary. I argued that this slightest of
victories foreshadowed a total victory, and (in one of Borges most devastating lines), Te author of an atrocious
undertaking ought to imagine that he has already accomplished it, ought to impose upon himself a future as ir-
revocable as the past. (22) By foreclosing on any number of potential outcomes by way of some internally logical
system of rationalization, a person (or a country) can be inextricably attached to its contrived end and becomes
capable of justifying almost any act in its service.
Tis critique of Borges is applied in the most overtly political sense against the historical materialism
of Marxist tradition. In the case of Te Shape of the Sword his narrator observes, Te reasons one can have for
hating another man, or loving him, are infnite: Moon reduced the history of the universe to a sordid economic
confict. He afrmed that the revolution was predestined to succeed. I told him that for a gentleman only lost
causes should be attractive (69) But the critique need not be relegated to Marxism when it appears to be just as
easily leveled towards any system of power and order that proves inescapable. In their book A Tousand Plateaus
Deleuze (himself a great fan of Borges) & Guattari (silent on the subject of Borges in his individual work as far as
I know) write,
A frst type of book is the root-book. Te tree is already the image of the world, or the root of the image of the
world-tree. Tis is the classical book, as noble, signifying, and subjective organic interiority. [] Te law of the
book is the law of refection, the One that becomes two. How could the law of the book reside in nature, when it
is what presides over the very division between world and book, nature and art? One becomes two: whenever we
encounter this formula, even stated strategically by Mao or understood in the most dialectical way possible, what
we have before us is the most classical and well refected, oldest, and weariest kind of thought. (5)
Again, the critique of historical materialism or Hegelianism is not static. Tat is to say, it is the critique of hierarchy
in general. Sure it exists in communism but it also exists in republicanism. It also exists in language and taxonomy
(see Te Analytical Language of John Wilkins), science and economics. It is a troublesome condition grown from
the aferbirth of the objects separation from the subject. But there is an alternative. For Deleuze and Guattari it is
the rhizome; for Borges it is the infnite labyrinth.
On his way to Stephen Alberts home, and the location of his murderous destiny, Png pauses for a moment
of prescient refection on the labyrinth created by his ancestor:
Beneath English trees I meditated on that lost maze: I imagined it inviolate and perfect at the secret crest of a
mountain; I imagined it erased by rice felds or beneath the water; I imagined it infnite, no longer composed of
octagonal kiosks and returning paths, but of rivers and provinces and kingdomsI thought of a labyrinth of laby-
rinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve
the stars. Absorbed in these illusory images, I forgot my destiny of one pursued. I felt myself to be, for an unknown
period of time, an abstract perceiver of the world. (23)
How ftting that in this meditation of an infnite labyrinth Png achieves a kind of mystical dissolution of the
self! Notice too that the notion of successive time is dissolved as well and the experience lasts for an unknown
period of time. Tis is his fantasy: to imagine a world where he is not carried along by the arborescent, dialectical
conclusions of fate. Another way to put it is that Png wants to be lost, to rid himself of the certainty that plagues
him. Tis is, afer all, the primary function of a labyrinth. Tis fantasy turns into a kind of reality when Albert
reveals Pns labyrinth, explaining, In all fctional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives,
he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fction of Tsui Pn, he choosessimultaneouslyall of them. He
creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork. (26) Te fact that
this choice to choose everything is emphatically creative (the italics in the above quotation are not mine) reveals a
critical disruption of power. Pns labyrinth is generative and decentered. It is the rhizome. Opposed to root-style
books, Pns project generates possibilities rather than forecloses on them. Deleuze and Guattari write, A rhizome
has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. Te tree is fliation,
but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. Te tree imposes the verb to be, but the fabric of the rhizome is the
conjunction, andandand (25) Tis fabric of conjunction is Te Garden of Forking Paths exactly.
Of course, this particular labyrinth comes to a kind of an end, or a number of ends. It ends somewhat when
Albert is shot. It ends a little more when Png is apprehended by Madden and then still a bit more as Png antici-
pates his own hanging. But are there any resolutions in this? Is Png a hero or a villain? He evaded his assassin and
communicated essential information to his commanders so in that sense he is a tragic hero. But those commanders
were ofcers of the Central Powers back in Berlin, making the hero designation fairly unlikely. Of course, Argen-
tina was technically neutral during the First World War so its possible Borges is indiferent to global politics of
that particular war but that seems exceedingly unlikely considering his apparent concerns for the World War that
follows. Or is it something to do with the nearly forgettable mention of Liddell Hart and his History of World War
I, a rain delayed artillery attack against the Central Powers on the Serre-Montauban line in the opening lines of the
Liddell Hart was a real person, a soldier and a strategist. Prompted by the unthinkable death tolls during
World War One, Hart attempted to discern a strategy beyond the direct attack approach that pitted adversaries
head-to-head, creating vast lines of trenches, scarred no-mans-lands, and stacks of corpses. A stalemate, as they
say. In a paper from the National Defense University, F. Lee Campbell IV writes of Harts strategy that, By upset-
ting the balance in the mind of ones opponent, one seizes the initiative and creates the conditions for favorable
future actions. Rational actors evaluate the situation and take actions based on their evaluation. By taking a line
of least expectation, these evaluations are upset and balance is lost. (2) Here we see that there is a kind of kin-
ship between Borges and Hart. Not a fliation but a kind of alliance. Tere is, in both of them, a certain afection
for uncertainty, for fexibility, and for possibility. For his part, Harts afection births the Blitzkrieg. Borges births
something else entirely. A new notion of time and with it an ethical challenge.
Afer all, Te Garden of Forking Paths is an enormous riddle, or parable, whose theme is time (27) In
A New Refutation of Time Borges writes, I deny the existence of one single time in which all things are linked as
in a chain, and on to say, I deny, in an elevated number of instances, the successive. (222) Ive explored elements
of this in earlier sections, in so many words, this rhizome-like time, a growing, dizzying net of divergent, conver-
gent and parallel times. (28) But how do we act in these conditions? If Game Teory (and similarly structured the-
ories) encourages us to act as if there is but one outcome, how do we act if there are uncounted possible outcomes?
Fittingly, the answer is not certain. Tere is more than a hint of a need for autonomy but I dont think this is so in
the strictly neoliberal, rational-actor sense. Borges is no collectivist. But his anarchism lacks the cold rationalism
of many of todays liberalist movements. Maybe the best way to put it then, is that most critical to Borges politics is
the elimination of necessity. What does a human do when they are not forced to do anything? Or maybe better yet,
what can a human do without being forced? I think now of Te Secret Miracle. When Jakob Bhmes story begins
he is trapped in a nightmarish chess game, doubly laden by flial antagonism. In his waking hours hes plagued by
the possible futures of his immanent demise but, just before the fring line release their hammers Hladik is given a
reprieve: time is frozen so that he can fnish his creative work. He was not working for posterity or even for God,
whose literary tastes were unknown to him. Meticulously, motionlessly, secretly, he wrought in time his lofy, in-
visible labyrinth. (94)
Binmore, K. G. (2007).Game theory: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Borges, J. L., Yates, D. A., & Irby, J. E. (2000).Labyrinths: Selected stories and other writings. London: Penguin.
Brams, Steven J. (1985). Ration politics: decisions, games, and strategy. Washington D.C.: CQ Press
Davis, Morton D. Game Teory, a nontechnical introduction. New York, Basic Books
Rosenthal, Edward C. (2000). A Complete Idiots Guide to Game Teory. New York: Alpha
Schmitt, C. (2005).Political theology: Four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Shubik, M. (1964).Game theory and related approaches to social behavior: Selections. New York: Wiley.

Where Sleep Should Live, I Ask my House to Exist

During the daytime hours the vault of heaven wears a pale blue guise, a
smokescreen that serves to eclipse the abyss and safely disguise the harrowing
notion of the infinite. The sensation of paralysis experienced when confronted with
the uncertainty of the space between spaces, is the anxiety that functions as the
catalyst to relinquish all personal agency in order to be swaddled by the artificial
reprieve of The Static: a coercive, alchemical masquerade of simulations that
promotes a seductive homogeneity that immobilizes the ability to perceive and
distinguish the textures of the real. When the firmament again resembles a glittering
Where Sleep Should Live, I Ask my House to Exist
During the daytime hours the vault of heaven wears a pale blue guise, a smokescreen
that serves to eclipse the abyss and safely disguise the harrowing notion of the infnite. Te
sensation of paralysis experienced when confronted with the uncertainty of the space between
spaces, is the anxiety that functions as the catalyst to relinquish all personal agency in order
to be swaddled by the artifcial reprieve of Te Static: a coercive, alchemical masquerade of
simulations that promotes a seductive homogeneity that immobilizes the ability to perceive
and distinguish the textures of the real. When the frmament again resembles a glittering
vacuum and consciousness is no longer engaged in the sedative business of
soliciting the divine, orgiastic approximations of modern life, I am standing naked in
the wilderness, pulling at the weeds of my malcontent.
It is in the primal chaos of night that we are no longer bound by that delicate
molecular logic and are confronted with a solipsistic restlessness that compels us to
conjure drunkenness, to anaesthetize the sleepless anxiety of being separate,
illuminating difference and assigning the parameters that cleave the antagonist from
the friend. Now, thrust into the shattering, into the locus of deconstructed veils and
atmosphere, we must do to the devil what he does to imaginary books.

vacuum and consciousness is no longer engaged in the sedative business of soliciting
the divine, orgiastic approximations of modern life, I am standing naked in the wilderness,
pulling at the weeds of my malcontent.
It is in the primal chaos of night that we are no longer bound by that delicate
molecular logic and are confronted with a solipsistic restlessness that compels us to conjure
drunkenness, to anaesthetize the sleepless anxiety of being separate, illuminating diference
and assigning the parameters that cleave the antagonist from the friend. Now, thrust into
the shattering, into the locus of deconstructed veils and atmosphere, we must do to the devil
what he does to imaginary books.
....and the harbinger of digital patriotism is the eternally self-referential daytime junk-
ie. He hails from the fres of industry, snifng pharmaceutical meth, lost and complacent in
a labyrinth of veils and wall-to-wall carpeting, a cybernetic dream-space that employs the
same hygienic sanctity of the airport or museum.
I had a thought about the night. Tere is always a sentient pushing to the realm
of unreason, a certain existential polarization that occurs maybe while walking alone
towards the 6 train on Bleeker, leaving the dark, smoky solace of afer-hours at the KGB
bar in the lower east side or the revelatory interruption of our impending otherness while
sharing a drunk, commiserative tear with a companion on a starry roofop in Los Fe-
liz. Te emptiness that follows the truncation of daytime salvations is the rhizomatic crux
of what thrusts me towards thrusting, the inexorable corrective ritual of self-pleasuring,
blindly engaging in the insurgent violence of wild, wayward perversions. Te bone of con-
tention exists in the vanishing point, where intimacy implodes into itself, into a certain si-
lence. I fnd myself caught in a successive loop of the nights waning duration, only to be
..anu the haibingei of uigital patiiotism is the eteinally self-referential
daytime junkie. He hails from the fires of industry, sniffing pharmaceutical meth,
lost and complacent in a labyrinth of veils and wall-to-wall carpeting, a cybernetic
dream-space that employs the same hygienic sanctity of the airport or museum.

I had a thought about the night. There is always a sentient pushing to the
realm of unreason, a certain existential polarization that occurs maybe while
walking alone towards the 6 train on Bleeker, leaving the dark, smoky solace of
after-hours at the KGB bar in the lower east side or the revelatory interruption of
our impending otherness while sharing a drunk, commiserative tear with a
companion on a starry rooftop in Los Feliz. The emptiness that follows the
truncation of daytime salvations is the rhizomatic crux of what thrusts me towards
thrusting, the inexorable corrective ritual of self-pleasuring, blindly engaging in the
insurgent violence of wild, wayward perversions. The bone of contention exists in
the vanishing point, where intimacy implodes into itself, into a certain silence. I find
myself caught in a successive loop of the nights waning duration, only to be
awakened by the clamor of sunny pragmatists and immediately euthanized by a
banana republic tyrant.

Where I live there are no auxiliary fictions to live in tandem with or to ascend
into with the negligence of a Walmart infidel, impatient in the parking lot of a Carls
Jr in Newhall. Santa Clarita is a vacuum of patriarchic masquerades, an arsenal of
civilized poisons. It seems that I have found the antidote, but that chemical salvation
seems to be secretly reflexive of the cacophonous condition itself, and ultimately
serves to reinforce the same paradox it pretends to resolve. I can acknowledge that
awakened by the clamor of sunny pragmatists and immediately euthanized by a banana
republic tyrant.
Where I live there are no auxiliary fctions to live in tandem with or to as-
cend into with the negligence of a Walmart infdel, impatient in the parking lot of a
Carls Jr in Newhall. Santa Clarita is a vacuum of patriarchic masquerades, an arse-
nal of civilized poisons. It seems that I have found the antidote, but that chemical salva-
tion seems to be secretly refexive of the cacophonous condition itself, and ultimate-
ly serves to reinforce the same paradox it pretends to resolve. I can acknowledge that
my patience now is contingent on these brief apertures, and I have surrendered
myself to a cage. I abandoned the pious undertaking of pursuing some kind of
spartan alternative after a years worth of futile attempted redemptions. I have seen
evidence to suggest that maybe pretending to be anything but a drunk nihilist is
sophomoric and will never yield anything but a gaping abyss inside my chest and a
throbbing headache. Give me the moon, fold my world with the private, clandestine
cities that ascend in fleeting, chimeric gestations from my enduring disappointment.
I sometimes find myself conjuring a mnemonic hallucinatory simulation of another
life, sometimes making my way through a labyrinth of red curtains in the wings of a
palatial, monolithic opera
house, or sitting by a window
in the dining car of a train,
traversing a landscape that
seems to deviate in its
topographical depiction from
any discernible locus on

my patience now is contingent on these brief apertures, and I have surrendered myself to
a cage. I abandoned the pious undertaking of pursuing some kind of spartan alternative
afer a years worth of futile attempted redemptions. I have seen evidence to suggest that
maybe pretending to be anything but a drunk nihilist is sophomoric and will never yield
anything but a gaping abyss inside my chest and a throbbing headache. Give me the moon,
fold my world with the private, clandestine cities that ascend in feeting, chimeric gesta-
tions from my enduring disappointment. I sometimes fnd myself conjuring a mnemonic
hallucinatory simulation of another life, sometimes making my way through a labyrinth of
red curtains in the wings of a
palatial, monolithic opera
house, or sitting by a window
in the dining car of a train,
traversing a landscape that
seems to deviate in its
topographical depiction from
any discernible locus on
Where Sleep Should Live, I Ask my House to Exist
Anya Levy
Noise Study (9/);
Andrew Young;

Te function of the score is to refect the abundance of the worlds sounds. Te text orients the ear in space to-
wards or away from contingent sounds - sounds that occur without regard for the listener. Te score paraphrases
sound-events, taking them far from their context, and places them in a space where more people may examine
them closely. Te sounds themselves were found on opposite sides of the country, and were translated into a
concise description over the course of several days.
Andrew is a composer, improviser, noise sculptor, and cofee drinker from Rhode Island. His work ranges from
quiet, intermittent textures to harsh noise, and deals closely with the limits of human perception, algorithmic
information, text, room acoustics, translational procedures, and digital technologies. He currently resides in Los
Angeles where he collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and dancers in the creation of new, challenging art.
12/24/2013; Providence, RI;
a harmony to which most are unaccustomed.
12/13/2013; Newhall, CA;
a sound that is unconditioned.

noise study (9/); andrew young;
Its like I want to be more than reality,
and I can not, because the reality is
Is ... unreal. Say
Jorge Luis Borges
All who repeat Marvin Gaye are
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Instinctively he had already become profcient
in the habit of simulating that he was someone,
so that others would not discover his condition
as no one
Jorge Luis Borges
Chris Dysons work for the exhibition is comprised of speakers, a microphone and sofware. Te sofware, de-
veloped specifcally for this piece, functions by recognizing audio input and in a real time output replacing the
persons speech with words and vocals that the artist has pre-selected. Regardless of what the participant speaks or
sings into the mic their words are replaced in time by the track selected by the artist and amplifed across the room.
Te work has developed from multiple sources within Borges writing, probably reaching clarity at some point afer
reading Everything and Nothing, 1958. Te voice is transgressive, a reenactment or simulation. Tere is desire to
be in/the reality and in that reality is humor. Borges presents us with an alternative to inhabit or to be inhabited.
Or both simultaneously - to become a component in the system of delivery.
All who repeat
Chris Dyson
I was thinking about how we can use Borges to ground our project. I read the story recently;
Borges and I and it appears to be an interesting way into this robot/interface/automaton/inter-
passivity chat we had. Te text is super short and explores - if I am not totally missing the point
- the interplay between frst and third person speech exploring the precarity of author and sub-
jectivity. Taking the stuf we discussed with R D Laing and the divided self and the NPR podcast
about when we speak to robots (the online dating stuf I think was super interesting) I think its
all relevant to our discussion - we could keep the proposal not too tied down and say we will make
a flm. I think it could be interesting for us to think also about our duplicity in how we make the
Random Idea - Bonaventure hotel in downtown, super interesting place. Its super sci f and there
is this experience I had of identity crisis maybe in its super complicated layout or its super re-
fective surfaces or maybe I was having an existential crisis. Maybe we make a flm in one of the
rooms. Regardless of my hackneyed reconstitution I think we have something good and would
love to see what you think about the Borges and I or is it I and Borges I forget anyways its in
the Labyrinths.
Trough storyboards, dialogue, sounds and shortfalls of annotations the video constructs a narrative that seeks to
replicate Borges method of incorporating the process and artifce of writing within his work. Te artists were par-
ticularly interested in looking at how self refexivity operated within negotiating the collaborative process, how this
reveals levels of absurdity and complicates the discussion around the infnite possibility of imagining into the real.
Te other one, is the one things happen to.
3mins 23sec HD video
Chris Dyson, Alice Lang
Te fantastic landscape and the real landscape are consumed by fossil fuels. Te majority of my work is about
human rights and how environmental degradation violates those rights.
I am an organizer and a painter. Oil Painting was my frst solo video piece and it was of interest to me to at-
tempt to approach flm as a painter using very simple materials. In a sense Oil Painting is a flm and a painting.
Oil Painting
Cori Redstone
Atomic Fireballs
A handful of sand from the Sahara Desert in the region of Douz in Tunisia
A Navajo style rug made in India
A Kurt Ostervig armless dining chair
Place the given objects in an arrangement that mirrors the constellation
most directly above the rug at midnight in the location that it is installed.
For the Ostervig chair, use the end of the front right leg which is painted red
as its marker.
Te title of the piece, Te Floor/Te Stars Tonight, is derived from the parallel intentions for the sculpture. Borges
work is signifcantly inspiring in the way that he confates the mundane with the sublime. In the Lottery in Babylon,
Borges describes a company that uses a lottery system to randomly subject diferent members of society to either a
punishment, or a reward. Because the process is completely secretive, there is no way of knowing whether or not a
given situation was determined by an all-powerful company, or by chance. In a similar way, I wanted the sculpture
to be able to be read as a messy foor that could potentially exist in real life as well as a chart depicting a star con-
stellation through specifc objects from all over the world and all diferent points in time.
I fnd that the candy and the ancient sand balance each other out in a Borgesian way. I was drawn to Atomic Fire-
ball candy because they possess seemingly universal formal qualities but with extremely potent and specifc cul-
tural meaning (also because stars are essentially atomic freballs). Te sand from the Sahara is ancient; itsgrains are
very fne and feel like silk. In the Bible, God refers to stars and sand as a metaphor for the multiplicity of Abrahams
descendants. Te Navajo rug made in India in itself is a kind of Mbius strip of the real and representational: A
rug made in India designed to look like it was made by the group of people who were once mistaken to being from
India. Te chair is a prime example of the Danish Mid Century Modernist style from the 1950s. All of the objects
were found online.
Te Floor/Te Stars Tonight
Daniel Bruinooge
Rather than think of fction as that which is outside the realm of non fction, Borges prompts me to consider
nonfction as only a slightly distorted version of fction. Te mirroring of one state onto its mildly altered proxy
suggests that they are infnitely interchangeable. Tis perpetual relocation serves as the infrastructure of uncer-
tainty that, in turn, sustains the nightmare that Borges stories produce. Te recent surveillance hysteria in the
media resulting from the massive leaks of classifed information on surveillance programs was indeed a lesson in
Borgesian narrative: using constant surveillance to enable the retroactive reconstruction of a persons life at any
moment can be understood as a powerful tool for fabricating fction. If the idea behind the forensic construction of
a possible life is to string together information from diferent pools of data in order to recreate a person, a profle,
a life, how are we not to understand this as only a possibility? Te interpretation that is necessary to transform
this information into a narrative renders it a clumsy technique when used in therealm of surveillanceand thus my
attempt to replace it in the realm of fction. In doing so, I hope to address the mutually rewarding positions of both
surveillance and sousveillance in our performance of privacy.
Each selfe in this album contains an encrypted text fle that corresponds to a determined category of self- tracked
information that has been gathered with life-logging applications. Instructions on how to decrypt the selfes are
provided on site- crunching and encrypting only the possibility of a narrative within layered visibility.
allmyselfes dot biz
Danielle Bustillo
Writers Block
Teres a bird caught
in the tree outside my window,
a wire looped around its
delicate foot, as leaves
emerge in that early green
thats almost a yellow. I thought to write
about the bird, how it struggled
with awkward strokes, lashed
to the branch. But I know its not
that simple. Not every image
that stays with you, the way
one wing still hangs as if a salute,
is poetry. Sometimes its lies
youre telling. Sometimes the dead
must be alive. Tis is a poem
about the spring, how its a sweater
hanging outside my window, how its a bird
inside my hand, and the trees
blossoming sevens, that could
be leaves or even feathers.
In order to create color home movies, families could
send their black and white flm to companies which
would add color to it using stencils and dyes.
As I watch my mothers family,
on our living room television, I see the way
the man who took their movie changed them.
Te man I picture set up
on a broad glass desk
lit from below. Covered with their flm
it looked like a dragonfy wing. When
my mothers family sent in their home movie, maybe
he bent over the images and slowly criticized
the limits of their instructions. How as
he sat down with the exquisite brush,
any gesture was a sentence.
I suspect the holes in
my memory are beginning
to seep. I know the eye
is used to seeing refected light.
In his line of work,
missing details lef entire
neighborhoods to be
rebuilt by his intuition,
his ideal color scheme,
as he added pastel dye
to the daily emulsion,
to the early ridges of my
grandfathers fshing-line face.
One frame could contain
a house so bright
it was like a swarm of bees.
Or a house this color, right
here, the color that flls the house
with children, that keeps away
questions like who will break the bread?
Who will take up that worn fute?
Te color that sets them up
to be remembered as they truly were.
When I watch my six-year-old mother,
her eyes are the wrong color. He is the keeper
of that memory, or maybe
somewhere in the infnite
expanse of space my mother
grows up in a house with blue eyes,
rides a tractor
and I watch. Te man
creates my mother, I
color her life, and she goes on
exploding and contracting
so fast you could mistake it
for a single point of light.
Drew Straus
Tis video clip contains a short instruction intending to transform people in classroom to participants of live per-
Mirroring and Absurdity:
Te instruction is observing and mimicking another person in classroom, and people are in loop. So if everyone
follows the instruction, one ends up mimicking oneself through others in principle. But at the same time, by fol-
lowing instruction, one cannot perform oneself - except oneself who performing the given role - since they per-
form adjectives not nouns: mimicking is diferent from identifying.
If one follows the instruction, s/he is not able to see what is happening in the whole classroom. And if one does not
follow the instruction, s/he might able to see whole happenings in classroom but still might infuence on others
since someone might observe and mimic him/her. And nobody can exactly mimic another person since each per-
son has diferent object person and thus has diferent direction of staring; if one mimics anothers staring direction,
s/he is not able to fulfll what instruction requires. Terefore nobody can be a perfect performer or mere audience
of this performance. In other words, nobody can be free from the instruction given whether one is submissive or
against although everyone plays an imperfect role in this system.
Live Performance
Jihyun Kim
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. Tey said, Come, let us build ourselves a city,
with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered
over the face of the whole earth. But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.
Te LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to
do will be impossible for them.Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each
other. So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.Tat is why it
was called Babelbecause there the LORD confused the language of the whole world.
In Te Library of Babel, Borges foresees a future archive containing every line of text, every letter, that has ever
been written. Tough no one person could ever read, or even look at, all of this in their lifetime, the certitude that
everything has been written negates us or turns us into phantoms.
Internet Rule #34: If it exists, there is porn of it.

GoogleTranslate is a prophet. Copy and paste any text remove the punctuation from it and run it back and forth
through about 30 other languages then back into English. Repeat the text and do it again. I call this GoogleFuck-
ing. To GoogleFuck.
Te methodical task of writing distracts me from the present state of men Te certitude that everything has been
written negates us or turns us into phantoms I know of districts in which the young men prostrate themselves
before books and kiss their pages in a barbarous manner but they do not know how to decipher a
single letter I suspect that the human species the unique species is about to be extinguished but the library will
Writing for me to highlight the current tax methods Human supervision Everything we write is certainly not rec-
ognize Lets Mirage As a young county Books prostate and kiss before their barbaric page Way but do not know
how to interpret the same letters disease the phenomenon of confict peregrination inevitably deteriorate in rob-
beries, and decimated stocks I mentioned suicide more ofen every year Te current process of human develop-
ment dont interfere with work, enter the question in writing otherwise, to accept or refuse, but they
prove that you fnance young guns a unique nature in diferent ways actually only one-way, I know, but I think a
practical way to know is the death of our buildings or things that hide in the Green Paper to be used write, you have
the current state the french kiss does happen book, I know how barbaric methods of youth in the area, such as, but
a love of nature and man, I think this book shows the variety, but you do not have in the library
Tower of Babel Tower of Babble or
Please Note Tat Te Way the Current Financial Monitor Everything I Wrote
Joey Cannizzaro
I Have Read All the Books
Johanna Kozma
Justin Crosby
MypieceisinspiredbythelanguageofthenorthernhemisphereofBorgesTln,inwhich nounsaremadebycom-
bining adjectives. Te adjectives that describe the materials, forms, and juxtapositions of the sphere were fore-
mostamongmyconsiderationswhenmakingthis piece.
Lucia Prancha
Tis work plays with the idea of putting myself under the skin of the other, and vice-versa. Or, to a lesser extreme,
even a refection of someone else in me. Or, in the very act of introspection we objectify the self. We experience our
self as if it belongs to other people. In other words, the mental activity that occurs through the process of reading
I constructed a parallel association, building from two texts. One is by Borges I, a Jew, and, the other is a sentence
from the letter written by Rimbaud to Georges Izambard - May 13, 1871: Je est un autre [I is another]. In the
former, Borges wrote about his relation with the Holocaust problematic and how others participated, actively or
passively, with this political event.
Te work is constituted by a mirror pedestal with my height, and a poster with an inverted text. Te surface of the
pedestal receives the refection of the other works in the exhibition. Te short fction relates to the self and, it is
read in the mirror surface.
Refecting Borges literature, my work instigates the tension between the self and the other. Troughout the process
of reading the work, the audience will play, as a ping- pong game, with the mental and physical objects in the space.
A reverse shot relationship between what is refected on the other, what is a refection on the self, and vice-versa.
Lucia Prancha
Untitled (2013)
HD Animation
Duration: 3:25
Nicholas Johnston
Untitled is an animation featuring alpine desktop wallpapers, and relies on the visual techniques of parallax and
the so-called Ken Burns Efect to shif perspective through the frame. To think of place is to think visually, and
the desktop wallpaper (along with the calendar and the cofee table book) celebrates an exceptionalism that regur-
gitates a geography (locale) as an iconic symbol. Borges constantly challenged the notion of certainties (a thing
being only one thing), and the animating of these static images is intended to alter perception working to block
the sublime read of an image meant to be sublime. In their manipulation, the same strategies of image formulation
are re-appropriatied, aiming to confuse and to helicopter above their own construction.

Te Fascist Vegetarians of Madison Wisconsin
Nick Saltrese
Action 1: Te translator approaches.
First one then two other cars hit this object: the metal L the inverted T, whatever extra fancy names or letters you want
to attach to a renegade piece of scrap metal bouncing in the road...
In certain versions of the Iraqi translators story, the couple stay together, the L or inverted T stays on the highway
untouched, the car moves on, passing over the metal unscathed, and the tow truck driver never gets the tattoo of
the couple and the dog on his arm.
We had hit a blunt object along the way and our car had stopped in front of an Exit Sign which said Bijou 47.
Te exit sign for Bijou 47 fashes in the background, Zoom In on this sign.
I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia.
Te exit sign for Bijou 46 fashes in the background.
Volumes XLVI and XLVII of the encyclopedia were the same edition, the exterior number was erroneous, XLVII
was a reprint of XLVI with a diferent cover, an extra I made all the diference at the end of that string of roman
numerals. Also there was an extra four page entry in Volume XLVII, with an entry on an ancient Iraqi civilization
called Uqbar.
Refecting on the new information was harrowing, I made that harrowing aspect my reward.
Father Gummy was his name and he had two twin daughters, both of whom were beautiful and both of whom
wore round tortoise shell glasses, the younger of the two was younger by two minutes and was infnitely sharper
than the frst.
Te day began with his face an inch away from Father Gummys shoe, not a kick or a fall, but a close look at his
refection in the leather. You know the kind of thing a 19 year-old does afer reading On Te Road? He starts look-
ing closely at old shoes before embarking on a long journey, at least thats what I did. But before going on a long
journey, I had to rake the lawn. It was my punishment for throwing away the gem which Herbert, a family friend,
had given me. In previous years Herbert had given me the works of Borges, Kerouac and Woolf. Kerouac didnt
seem to ft, he stuck out from the modernism of Woolf and even the post-modernism of Borges, but he did seem
to literalize and embody the adventure that the others had merely imagined. Everything Ive just said is probably
false. Te following is an account of my grandfathers childhood friend Tomas, who passed away in the winter of
1946, just a year afer the World War II ended and certain fascist regimes were seemingly brought to a halt. Tomas
had been very close with the Gummy twins and had even punished him for loving them both at separate times, but
his death was not spelled from this kind of punishment, or from the throwing out of Herberts gem, rather it came
from ignoring certain truths, or certain gifs of knowledge that came to him just in time, and he had waited just a
minute too long to process them.
Tomas Aunt Emma had been a personal acquaintance of Borges. Tey had met during World War I in
Switzerland and had bonded over Te World As Will And Representation. Tey argued about sections XLVI and
XLVII of the fourth and supplemental section On Te Vanity And Sufering of Life and On Ethics. Tey had
had a mysterious falling out in Dumfries, Scotland, during the War, afer her, Borges and a third person (also
known as the drunk driver or possibly Trungpa) had crashed into a joke shop one snowy christmas eve, leaving the
drunk driver partially paralyzed. Aunt Emma didnt drive, and Borges vision had completely deteriorated by then.
Te drunk driver was rumored to be a Trungpa from Tibet, who had escaped from the Chinese Police two winters
prior. Tere were even rumors that the Trunpas accident was intentional, a kind of prank pulled on both of them
as they discussed the diference between Ethics and Vanity. Borges and Tomas Aunt Emma were unharmed in
the accident, so the prank seemed rather harmless, and largely played on the owner of the joke shop.
Tomas bent down to try the harrow the day it arrived. He felt guilty about his vanity and all the people
he had walked on to get to his relatively high position in life (a live narrator for the Cinema of the Blind), so he
wanted to get a full back piece tattooed which professed his faith in others and undermined it in himself. Afer
receiving the tattoo, which was an elaborate, three-part river system in ancient Iraq that Tomas believed to be a
microcosm of the worlds sea and wind currents as well as the path that oxygen takes as it flls the two lungs and
is then converted into blood fow moving through the two hemispheres of the brain... Afer getting this tattoo
Tomas stopped calling the church and shrugged of the Gummy twins, whose beauty behind the four lenses had
kept him enraptured with the idea of his own face being multiplied and magnifed in that bloody fower feld where
he and many young men, who had thrown away lifes gems and not done their raking, had fallen in love so ofen.
From then on Tomas stopped donating to Father Gummys church and called all of his own individual sufering
alms, but Vern couldnt be sure if it wasnt the nearby Father who infuenced this naming or dropping a coin into a
hat, which was passed between hands and continued out of sight into a system that guaranteed a sweet return. In a
word: heaven. Both reasons were compelling, although he liked the latter more because he didnt think too highly
of the Father and didnt want to give undue credit to a corrupt man, when God was really the true author behind
the exchange.
Tomas was currently in the midst of rewriting his autobiography. He was no longer a Christ fgure with morality
built into his system. Nor was he a great composer wrapped up in the tragedy of self-discovery. Te rewriting of
his autobiography would begin with an avid denial of the most obvious facts, where and when he was born would
have to be changed.
Having to free himself from one side of seeing the world, he looked in the mirror and asked, What ever happened
to your face? It was not in a disparaging way that he did this, it had more to do with a serious inquiry into the
nature of time and the nature of his life afer Herbert had gifed him the gem and the Borges book.
He looked down at the sink and even below that. A necessary and liberating question, he had counted 81 white
tiles on his bathroom foor and nine rusty nails on a post that the mirror hung on, those three elements combined
and seemed to match the description of his face: innumerable profles with a familiar thread running through that
was troubled delicate and rough, walked over with many ideas out of an odd kind of necessity, of going on in life
through ditches to gain power while lying low, to rise without ofcially rising, that was Tln for you: a ditching of
certain facts to propagate others, what Beckett called the Great Siege or the Te Gem With Eyes and Not Points
afer hed been living of potatoes in a ditch for two years. Tln was also a series of roads, Tln was also a letter,
Tln was also an artifact.
Who knew that Death could be called to us when all we knew of Death was blown for us already at frst in the
lyrics of pop songs, and we went on living unperturbed. It was only when wed hit that artifact in the road that we
realized we had called death to us. In the whirling event, the event of it already happened. Te man reeling over a
copy of a gem and then throwing it in the road. A shy German man named Herbert had given me the gem and only
bad luck had hit me ever since, so I threw it in the road, two weeks later. Herbert gifed it to me two weeks before
Christmas, my life only got worse afer receiving his little gif. Te following day I totaled my car and met the Iraqi
translator, who followed us onto the shoulder of the road.
Driving, he would have cursed the bastard behind him except he didnt want the energy to come back to him, he
couldnt aford such a harsh return on his thoughts.
He thought of something that he wanted. His eyes lit up and he let his mind wander.
Hitting the object, there are sparks under the car, an axle is snapped, they lose control of the vehicle, all they can
do is pull over to the shoulder of an overpass, next to the exit sign which fashes Bijou 46/47 alternately.
Te translator pulls over to the shoulder along with them, amazing he didnt hit them when they went over the
debris, slowing when the collision was made. Amazing he got out of his car to help them.
Tey hit the object and the young man thinks that the translator thinks some piece of debris from their car has it
hit him. Te young mans thoughts were not that powerful, he was ofen wrong about what he thought.
Te young man gets scared, a frog leaps up in his throat, the translator exits the car. He reaches for his knife, his
wife and dog beside him, he wants to protect them both.
Teir car has lost all its gasoline and transmission fuid, it will never drive again. Te translator approaches. Te
young man closes his knife and gets out of the car, accepting his fate.
Fate says the Iraqi translator to the couple, expecting no gif for his blunt message, which really was quite sharp
if you traced the meaning of fate to its fnal root, fate simply meant to speak, and speak simply meant to scatter.
Te lines on his arm ofer a rewarding sight for masochists and the unlucky alike.
Before climbing down the overpass a man stops ahead, on the shoulder, he is smiling wide. He is from Iraq. He
claims to be a military translator. We believe him.
Te Iraqi Translator would be good to them, leaving them more space than they originally thought.
Te Iraqi Translator.
His ring matches her tattoo.
A three-part river system.
Te translator has no hair on his head.
His smile is wide. His build is squat.
His clothes are sturdy. His eyes are light.
At frst he seems angry. Later he turns out to be nice.
He ofers the couple a ride home.
He is all of 100 miles away.
It is his day of, he frowns when they say no.
Te couple thanks him, opting to deal with the accident themselves.
He leaves and they pull their dog out of the car. A tri-color dog of black, white and brown, according to frequency.
Tere is very little brown.
If an admission of guilt should surface somewhere in the clients second or third story then it wasnt his job to pros-
ecute, it was only his job to highlight the crime that was already there. I keep telling myself the story of how I got
into the accident to understand what exactly it is that Ive done that is wrong. My crime was one of exaggeration
and repulsion.
It was all like a very serious game of telephone, where words passed from ear to mouth getting warped as they
went, arriving like disfgured travelers when they fnally reached the end of the line, or the shoulder of the road,
where the Iraqi translator waited under the sign Bijou 46/47, depending on how I looked at it.
Te case he dealt with today was peculiar for too many reasons.
She was running for the phone, he explained as a side note.
Apparently she missed, cried Sam who Henry had failed to notice until then. She had only momentarily lifed
her face from the unlit couch of pillows and stufed animals, only to bury it back into the tear-sodden plush that
Emma generally regarded with such care that to see Sam weeping into them now was almost a greater abomination
than the sight of Aunt Emma on the foor. Who had missed the call from Borges, one she had been waiting for all
afernoon. His call had been an insidious form of violence, as this was the time before caller ID and cellphones.
He had promised her a call but hed only rang twice before either hanging up or getting cut of well never know.
Knowing Borges, well assume he got cut of, as he was a man of unshakable character. His morality ofen got him
into trouble, people sometimes saw his gentle observations as a searing critique of their daily life and so hurled
criticisms at him unduly because they were afraid of living a life without illusions. Tey were afraid of Virginia
Woolf, another truth sayer who Borges admired, and fnally they were afraid of Borges himself, because their sen-
sitive minds could not handle the truths he delivered in parables and fctions, in little gems of prose that were his
modest gifs to humanity, modest yet immense. Gifs that multiplied over time.
Well dont talk about me like Im dead, said Aunt Emma out of her palms. Tat was the frst thing Id heard her
say, afer shed run into the wall when Borges fnally rang her at 1:35 that afernoon. We can only assume it was
Borges calling, as hed promised her hed call that day, and no one else called, but hed only rung four times and then
hung up or got cut of, but most likely cut of as Borges was known to be a man of unshakable character. Keep in
mind, this was the time before caller id and cellphones, so she had to wait all day to hear from him, as he would be
calling from a pay phone and she wouldnt be able to call him back. He was doing a series of lectures somewhere
in Europe. Berlin or Oxford, I forget which.
Tis time the gem was felt, it was as though he were giving the driver an essential feature of his old character which
crying out the gem of his insights, proclaiming his deepest feelings to an unwilling, caged audience.
He ignored the commands of the man as he tore into his turkey leg and the shrieks of the woman as they only
sounded like vague but laudable whispering. Why were the man and woman crying. Because theyd just learned
that the turkey had been poisoned by renegade animal rights activists from Madison, Wisconsin. Te message
came via national emergency alert, it played through 98% of US towns on loudspeaker at 1:35 in the afernoon,
pacifc time, on Tanksgiving day. People on the radio were calling it the second plague. One of the primary
symptoms of the onset of poisoning was a growing sense of hilarity, and a general breakdown of those thoughts
that formerly plagued the troubled minds of the meat eaters.
Tomas heard their warnings too late. Now they were only pieces of words as though their beginnings and
endings had been cut of long ago by the efusive migration from the diaphragm to the lungs, the lungs to the lar-
ynx, the larynx to the tongue, the tongue to the air, the air to his ear, where the direct message came as a hushed
whispering from so far away.
At that moment he was too enthralled by the gnashing of his own teeth, and the mechanization of his jaw. How-
ever he was aware that they watched with a certain jealousy. For his ravenous freedom could never be repro-
duced, not even by the most untamed child attempting to imitate him. He thought of the gem Herbert had given
him nearly two years ago and began to laugh, then he felt a certain hardening in his chest, disrupting the fow in
his chest as though the highway had never lef him.
See Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
Kafa originally coined the term, he borrowed it from the Yiddish Teatre in Prague. Te job of a narrator paid so highly
that Tomas was able to change the fate of many a wise listener without paying a crown. Instead, he used words as cur-
rency, and the true seers of the world would relay the newsreels back to the crows who delivered the news from the phone
lines and made a myth of the modern day*
*Please excuse my nephews poetic fourishes, none of the information in the footnote above is true, but I have kept it out of
a sense of respect for childhoods inexhaustible ambition.
Artist Statement/Aferward
Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius already invaded my life, long before Id read it, reading it was just a troubling
confrmation of what was already there. I could relate that invasion to an anecdote Id heard from a distant family
friend who died in a car accident in Colorado Springs nearly two years ago, afer recovering from a mass poison-
ing one month prior. My distant family friend, had an Aunt Emma who had studied with Borges in Switzerland
during World War I, but this was the same horribly inarticulate family friend who claimed to be a great nephew of
Wordsworth. Tomas (RIP) had lived in Bogot, Colombia for ten years, where he had fallen in love with Magical
Realism and there discovered Borges thanks to his Aunts distant prodding, before returning to the States where
he and his wife and dog would die in a highway accident with a fresh bag of McDonalds between them, a copy of
Selah Saterstroms Te Meat and Spirit Plan and John DAgatas About A Mountain, the former of which his wife
was apparently reading to him as they hit the renegade piece of scrap metal, which bounced out of the truck behind
them. Because I could not perceive of Tln from a single angle I had to fall back on the Rashomon technique to tell
the story, not to refashion Borges, but to hint at how the allure of his language and the appearance of his ordering
of the obscure had drawn me into a conspiratorial world, which I had always thought about but had been too par-
anoid to articulate.
I fell asleep in the cradle of a Deaths hand where I then rose up the bone into that pale column of light, the
marrow was blood and the blood was too sharp and too bright for my sof body to resist, the blood cut me, if that
makes any sense... No, it didnt, but that was Tomas last journal entry, and even though it didnt make very much
sense there was some passion hiding in it if not the ambition and hope of a young poet which I can only appreciate
now that Tomas is gone. Tat brief fragment was written afer Tomas had lef the church, he was only involved
in the church because he was in love with the daughters of the very Father who had baptized him.
Te second-half of the anecdote about Borges was dubious: it had to do with Tomas Aunt Emma having
a nervous breakdown and regressing to a second childhood because shed missed a phone call from Borges on the
day her late husband had died. It hardly seemed to do with Borges, and only revealed Tomas callousness to me.
But I was wrong about Tomas callousness, he was a very tender young man, what he lacked was a frm grip on
reality. Reality means nothing, in my opinion, if compassion and empathy are lacking... Poor Tomas, he had such
a faint grip on reality, and for that I came to appreciate him when I was seeking escape from the world. Such a
grip faint, and it seemed to be composed of more sound than image, kind of rhythmic like the breath of an animal
hiding inside his lungs, the animal and the second life of the animal that both Kafa and Dostoyevsky wrote about,
when characterizing their consumptive symptoms, for both of them disease became an opportunity for a second
life, even if that life was tuned to a winding down rather than a winding up, perhaps time was slowing in those fnal
moments for those two great authors and perhaps that is why they were able to see so much in a single glimpse, or
gesture, like Borges Aleph the single image, or gap, or lack, in any moment became the whole where the entirety
of the cosmos could be perceived. I never got past the frst action of the story, yet I feel that the illustrious problem
of joining the unknown family has crystalized in that frozen gesture
: of the Iraqi translator approaching a newly wrecked car, to see if the people and the animal inside could be
saved, and perhaps I have yet to digest all of what Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius meant to me.
See Kafa and His Precursors
Tommy Wiseau (actor, director, star) plays the character Johnny in the sprawling psychological drama, Te Room
(dir. Tommy Wiseau, 2003). Johnny is in love with his girlfriend Lisa. Lisa secretly fnds Johnny boring and lusts
afer his friend, Mark. Denny, the local collage boy, and Johnnys surrogate son, is attracted to Lisa. Denny also has
a drug problem. Te movie is not inherently Borgesian, although it is a bit Labyrinthine. I, Nick Hanson (artist),
have made a work that is Te Room, but better. Like the fctional writer Pierre Menard, writing a better Quixote, I
have made a better Te Room. Bill Gibron, critic for the website writes about Tommy Wiseaus Te
Room: In the dynasty of dung, among the many pretenders to the best worst movie throne, Tommy Wiseau and
his oddly named tragedy truly earns their rotten rep. Another critic, Sarah Boslaugh writes, If you experience
brain damage as a result of watching this flm, I disavow any responsibility whatsoever. Where my version of Te
Room and Tommys version of Te Room difers is that I have removed the flm from its original context, which
is the context of traditional Hollywood type flms with gripping narratives and traditional acting, and placed it
in a new context where the flm can thrive and fnally be recognized for the masterpiece of experimental cinema
that it is. Tommy Wiseaus Te Room is a mess of bad acting, confusing narrative, and questionable flm work.
Nick Hansons Te Room is a masterpiece of alienation, aware of its own flmic status, thus making it capable of
commenting on and exposing the horrible flm clichs that the flm industry has repeatedly relied on in order to
sell their mindless work. Te context was not right when Miguel de Cervantes wrote the Quixote. However, when
Pierre Menard wrote the Quixote, the time passed had given the work a new context, where it could become a
stronger work. Nick Hansons Te Room accomplishes the same thing.
Nick Hansons Te Room
Quadraped and the Games of Devin Johnson
Yeah, [that game] still haunts me. Frank Stein, Quadraped: HalfCause, HalfEfect
Few things in the worlds of esotericism or videogamegeekery have caused as much stir as the work of
gameprogrammer Devin Johnson. He has been called a genius, a game changer, a charlatan, a reclusive com-
puter enthusiast who programmed like a lunatic. But how a shut in computer programmer from Hurricane, Utah
came to make such a mark on this specialized community is particularly striking when it is considered that there
is only one work that survives Johnsons death in 1996: the video game Quadraped.
At this point, many things have been said of Quadraped. Te game, or game as some prefer to call it
(quotation marks abound when discussing any aspect of Quadraped) has been passed around (on foppy disk, no
less), been the subject of one book (Frank Steins Quadraped: Half Cuase Half Efect, quoted above) and inspired
endless message board and blog posts.
Despite this, it is still difcult to describe what happens in Quadraped exactly. To begin with, Quadraped
uses the old alphanumerical graphic model (only using symbols you can fnd on a keyboard), which lends itself to
abstraction. Tis is the crude type of illustration where a hashtag (#) surrounded by asterisks (*) could be called
a star. Quadrapeds title screen, which is the easiest part of the 1 game to describe, contains only Quadraped,
Start, and Quit written in Xs and backslashes. Little asterisks explode into periods and commas in a crude
frework display.
Te crudeness, as it turns out, is a necessity for Quadraped, at least in its value as a curio. If one was deal-
ing with very early computers, a screen of alpha numerical characters representing a jungle or what not would
be appropriate, but Quadraped was not made for early computers. Johnson authored the game during the third
generation of personal computersMacintosh, Amiga, 286/386 PCs. Tese computers ran 16bit graphics with
full color and sound. Te memory requirements for games of Quadrapeds crudeness would usually run 1632kb.
But Quadrapeds necessary memory is much higher, weighing in at about 1.2 MB.
In short, the game flled far too much space for what it seemed to do. Tis was frst noticed by Kevin
Schmidt, an archivist at the Digital Conservancy of San Francisco, who found the game while uploading the fles
of Bill Evans, an early designer for Apple. When Kevin frst mentioned Quadraped to Bill, Bill audibly sighed:
Oh, he said. Tat thing.
It seems that Devin mailed Quadraped multiple times to Bill in 1989. Afer some investigation, it turned
out Devin mailed Quadraped to a good number of people, but Bill was certainly his favorite: he mailed Bill copies
of the game on enough occasions that Bill felt compelled to write Devin and tell him to stop. Te correspondence
that followed remains the closest thing to an interview that Devin Johnson ever gave.
Te game doesnt play, wrote Bill at one point. Please do not send more copies. Te Macintosh team, nor
I, are interested in receiving more copies. Save the disks.
Devins response was a short note, along with yet another copy of the game. Te note read Te game does
play, and then the enigmatic, It plays very well. Being told I cannot play a game is a kind of insult, I felt, Bill
said. So I tried to play the game. Many times.
As Bill played, he began to apprehend a certain uncanny feeling:
I knew I was playing, somehow, said Bill, Everything I tried to do didnt really go anywhere necessarily,
but I kind of knew that my presence, my input, was doing something.
Bill asked Devin for instructions. Devin responded with an explanation that Bill will never forget. He said
that the game is called Quadraped because there are four legs. You play one of the legs. Tere is also a brain, a heart,
and a rudimentary digestive system. [He said] I have tried to make it as realistic as possible.
Tis didnt help me at all of course, says Bill. I had no idea even what I was looking at, three Xs with a
clock under it [Bill is referring here to two digit spaces near the lef hand corner where numbers seem to count-
down, move from 99- 00 and then repeat, at somewhat even intervals], and mountains of backslashes and forward
slashes, switching back and forth. . . the idea of being a leg was totally confusing.
What Bill is attempting to describe here is one of the most elusive elements about Quadraped. Described
by art critic Frank Stein as specifc yet unpredictable , 3 the efect that players seem to have with Quadraped-
at least with those who are fans of the game- is a real sense of partial causality. Tat, though incomprehensible
as a whole, the game has, undeniably, threads of causality that work in certain inconsistent circumstances. Tese
threads force the player to accept that rules exist, however disjointed and fragmented.
Tat we can never really get more specifc than that, or that we maybe can- but within a great number of
qualifcations- is perhaps why the game has such an efect on players, an efect that has been called alienating,
unnerving, and haunting.
Frank Stein:
Te game is quite addictive, strangely. One wins, (s)he loses, and (s)he cant fgure why. Not exactly why.
I found myself playing it again and again, trying to do the exact same thing in the beginning to remove variables,
moving forward with experiments afer I ran out of sure moves. I played not for entertainment, exactly, but just to
ascertain rules... but I kept playing.
Bill admits he was afected by the game, but says at the time he preferred not to think about it. When asked
if it was because it made him uncomfortable, Bill stated, Oh no. Not at all. It just wasnt something I cared to think
about. I was in the business of making things that worked, you know, that people could use and get what they
wanted out of them. [Quadraped] just seemed the total opposite of that.
Where Bill was slightly amused, Keith was obsessed. He began spreading word about the game.
I didnt call it art, says Keith, but when people call it that, I dont disagree. Tech nerds began to dig up
their old systems just to play the bizarre little game. Soon an emulator version of the game was available, and
Quadraped became a viral phenomenon amongst hardcore gamers.
A forum sprung up on IGN, where a group of players began to post cheat codes to Quadraped. Usually a
means to unlock some area or aspect of the game, the cheat codes for Quadraped have started to sound more like
an attempt to build a unifed theory of the game.
Some people propose, for example, that the game never ends, no matter how many times you die. All
data is saved at all times, and reset is a fallacy created by the presence of a Game Over screen and re-
starting at a similar (seemingly exact) location again. In reality, all the rules are changed by the fact you
have already once played the game. Game Over screens and Start screens, one theory goes, are much like
bonus areas between levels in more traditional games. Pressing Start, within a certain amount of time
changes the circumstances in the next game, which is really another round of the game already began.
Tere are many theories of hidden hitpoint bars, invisible cues that occur at certain bpms. One
theory claims if a metronome is set of 62 BPMs, during every 4th measure [4:4 time] a dollar- sign ($)
appears on the characters body. Te efects of this dollarsign on gameplay is still unknown.
Some go as far as to suggest that the player is actually playing a completely unseen and unseeable
game, which exists independently but infuences the results of the ostensible game. Guesses as to what
this hidden game is have been various: chess, pong, Super Mario Bros. Te Super Mario Bros. claim
has been proven false by experts in the game, but other games are still in dispute, and may always be,
for various reasons.
Some claim that what players have generally assumed is the character is misleadingthat the whole
screen is the character and that one requires sof focus and many minutes of nonplay before any sense
can be made of the motions. Players should then interact with the game in an intuitive manner.
Certain secret screens have been reported, some documented on Youtube. Apparently a frework
screen with Good Job, Leg! can appear and is immediately followed by the title screen, foregoing the
Game Over screen. Te instances of Good Job, Leg! remain so few that its full efect on gameplay, with
all the other possible factors, is still unknown.
Tere are, of course, detractors. Te hype, they contend, has created a type of Rorschach efect
with the game. People see what they want to. Te editors of both IGN and GameCrusher have stated
that they believe the game to be, at best, a series of bugs by a sloppy programmer, and at worst, simply
random stimuli.

Te Believers in Devin, as they are ironically called, point to one fact to refute this claim: the
game does, in fact, play. Or, more specifcally, the program of the game runs. As any programmer will
tell you, a program is, in many ways, a ring or a circuit, and if any part of that circuit is in disarray, the
entirety of the thing ceases to function.
Quadraped runs a consistent series of states, despite its irregularities namely the title screen, the
screen of game play, and the Game Over screen. Tese are predictable in that they always cycle in this
fashion and require some input before moving onto the following state. Tis suggests that the program
is at least complete.
None of the cynics have successfully caused the game to crash. Tere is talk of setting up labora-
tories where computers continually run one of the screens without input, with the hypothesis that if one
waits long enough, the game will begin to play itself. One such attempt has begun in Michigan, and is
in its twentieth day at the time of publication of this article.
If the study of Quadraped is still in its initial stages, piecing together the biography of Devin is in its infan-
cy. We can say for certain that Devin Johnson was born in St. George, Utah in 1962. His father, Harold Johnson,
was an air trafc controller and worked in the regional control center outside the city. It was through his father
(and NASA) that Devin received his frst computer.
Devins mother, Melinda, seems to have been unemployed most of Devins life, whether voluntarily or not.
She sufered from what seems to be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It caused her to collect any paper she could
get her hands on. 7 How afected she was by the disease during Devins youth is unknown, but her sister, Dorothy,
reports that it got worse with age.
By the end of it, she states, She was a complete shut in. By the time she passed, the whole house was full
of magazines, newspapers. Reports from Insurance Companies... [reports] for other people, I mean.... I have no
idea how she got all of it. Her problem was surely exacerbated by the death of her husband in 1980, when
Devin was just under 18. Dorothy helped the two get onto disability, and, until Melindas death in 1986, that was
the last Dorothy saw of them.
Dorothy remembered Devin being detached. She doesnt have much else to say about him except to note
his weightas it continued to balloon until his death and his generally blank demeanor. At his mothers funeral,
Devin assured Dorothy that he would clean up the remnants of his mothers obsession but turned out to never have
touched any of the piles by his own death ten years later.
He was very quiet, but perfectly polite, says Dorothy. He worked on the computer a lot. Sent a lot of
letters. I think he had some of what Melinda had. He was very particular about people coming in [to the house].

Its believed that it was soon afer his mothers death that Devin started programming games. Te frst title
we know of is a game called Hole Digger, which can be pretty certainly dated around 1987, a year afer his mothers
Only reports of this and other possible Johnson games exist. Stories of this kind arerightlysuspect. But
through research done by the author, it is believed that the game is an authentic Johnson game and was available
locally in Southern Utah and adjacent areas.
Te reports describe the game as such: A character digs a hole in the center of the screen. Every few digs
an option appears. Stop Digging? Y/N If the character chooses yes, a YOU WIN screen appears followed by
a GAME OVER screen. If the player chooses no, they continue digging again for a time and then the question
reappears. Te reports do not include any mention of keys or cheats, which does not preclude the possibility of
them, but leaves the game and its intent rather impenetrable.
Less sure is when Devin programmed Snake Dungeon, the most reported and most studied game afer
Quadraped. Believed to be made within the same four year period that Quadraped is estimated to have been pro-
grammed (1988- 1992), it is unknown if it was completed before or afer Quadraped.
Snake Dungeon has much more traditional characteristics than either Quadraped and Hole Digger. Tere
is a main character (with a forward slash sword) as well as a variety of alpha- numeric demons.
Snake Dungeon has much more traditional characteristics than either Quadraped and Hole Digger. Tere
is a main character (with a forward slash sword) as well as a variety of alpha numeric demons.
Spencer Jarvis account (posted on his blog I Have A Tiresome Fire) explains:
Te player moves a knight character through a series of rooms. By most accounts, the rooms are identical
and all contained the same four exitsnorth, south, east, west. Many accounts end there, but Spencer Jarvis of Tor-
rance, CA, seemed to stumble upon one of its secrets: he found a small, asterisk key. He was astonished, and tried
to fnd the lock for it. I worked for days, I mapped out sections of the dungeon, to make sure I wasnt doubling
back. I started to realize that the key appeared in a room that, during other attempts, it did not appear. I started
trying cheat codes, cause I thought maybe it was something like that. Spencer, he says, eventually found large story

It is soon afer making these games that Devin was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Evidence of Johnsons
work afer this time comes from scraps and bits can be attained from neighbors, family, and the people to whom
Devin was so fond of mailing.
One of the more interesting fnds is a series of note cards written in Johnsons hand, most likely written in
1994 or 95. Tey contain game ideas and dates which are most likely proposed completion dates (as many of the
dates fall afer Johnsons death). Tis fnd suggests that Johnsons programming plans continued until his death, if
only in idea form.
Some of the more interesting ones follow below:
Cracked Net. Te screen is a cracked net. Te player is a parrot on a perch. 08.15.94
Evolution, the Game. Te player is evolution. Game is all life forms. 07.24.98
Egg Lander. Eggs land in ice. Everyone is afraid of what will happen when they do. 06.15.91
In 1996, Devin died of organ failure at his home. Dorothy sold all the house belongings at an estate sale af-
ter his death. Tracking down the purchasers of his keepsakes remains the primary source of information on Devins
later life. But, as Dorothy admits, many of the discs were simply thrown out.
Only a few photos of Devin exist. In one, Devin appears smiling at the camera, a gawky teenage boy in
shorts. Te photo seems to be commemorating the painting of the garage. In it, Devin is motioning towards the
garage doors with an air of presentation. Te only other photo (which is actually a few that were taken in sequence)
show Devin at 24, now much heavier, at the funeral of his mother. Again he smiles into the camera, though his eyes
seem a little vacant.
Tere is no way to surmise from this gaze whether or not behind it lied the mind of a genius or a prankster.
No intent can be found for why he created some of the most controversial videogames in history. All that remains
in the photo are small black dots, fatly mysterious. His photos sit as evidence without contextjust as impenetra-
ble, alluring, and confounding as the only other evidence of this life he lef: a mysterious little game called Quad-
Super Mario Bros has the advantage of both having the most experts of any of the aforementioned games as well as a
beginning with a singular start point. Other games, like Pong, which contain a random start point with each play, frustrate
attempts to confrm or disprove hidden game theories.
Te author moves from this subject quickly not because he fnds the detractors incorrect or not worth the attention.
Instead, it is because the doubts are so obvious, the author assumes the reader can assemble a good list of reservations
themselves without assistance
Te most interesting of these story sequences requires the player to play the game with a specifc series of moves: up,
down, down, lef, lef, lef within a 5 second interval afer being motionless for at least 2 minutes of gameplay. Tis results
in a death of the character at the hands of a tongued parenthesis demon. Te GAME OVER screen appears and is followed
by the Title Screen. Te player must then restart the game (time interval unknown) and do the same motions in the same
time frame. What results is a similar death, but this time the head of the character is removed from the body and carried
by a large hand (consisting of equal signs and backslash nails) of-screen to the right. Ten, through a series of screens and
crude animations which would take too long to describe here, the hand takes the asterisk crown to several people, who
have diferent reactions. One cries, another spits streams of greater-than signs, another tells a story, written in scrolling
script, about an object it lost. Many people are eyeless and do not respond in any way.
Te last person in the sequence (which is a good deal longer than this description and is rife with repetitions) is an old
man who grows a beard out of tildes and closing brackets. Te beard continues to grow, flling the screen, until the player
presses space bar. Ten, again in scrolling script, the Old Man proclaims, No, dont. Ten the space bar is pressed again,
and the traditional win screen appears.
Quadraped and the Games of Devin Johnson
Christopher Cole
Tis work questions the notion of the self and explores the inability to imagine an instance or essence of it. Te
video utilizes a piece of literature, with a character whose name is also Stephanie, to create an indeterminacy
between the fact and fction of identity. Te Borgesian Conundrum, of whether the writer writes the story or it
writes him, is taken further to investigate whether the story is told by the speaker, or the speaker is told by the
story. In the video, I fow in and out of fctional narrative and the self-referential, causing the work to fold back in
on itself. Tis refects a sense of narrative non-linearity and the idea that copying (much like the mirrors in Tlon)
disseminates a visual self which is based upon a self that is already a deception itself.
Scribe TV
Video installation with sound (4:12)
Stephanie Deumer
Arenas Infnitas
Maria Valentina Pelayo
Ni el libro ni la arena tienen ni principio ni fn
-Jorge Luis Borges
A travs de la lectura de la obra de Borges, el tema del infnito me llamo mucho la atencin. El tema del in-
fnito esta claramente presente en la imaginacin de Borges y lo impone a travs de sus cuentos. El universo (que
otros llaman la Biblioteca) se compone de un numero indefnido, y tal vez infnito, de galeras hexagonales, con
vastos pozos de ventilacin en el medio, cercados por barandas bajsimas. Desde cualquier hexgono, se ven los
pisos inferiores y superiores (p.137) ...Mi cuerpo se hundir largamente y se corromper y disolver en el viento
engendrado por la caida, que es infnita (p.138; La Biblioteca de Babel). Despus de leer estas frases del cuento La
Biblioteca de Babel, la imagen de un cuerpo perdido en el espacio me hizo refexionar sobre mi relacin como ser
humano, con mis alrededores, y lo minscula que soy dentro del universo.
Si el espacio es infnito estamos en cualquier punto del espacio. Si el tiempo es infnito estamos en cualqui-
er punto del tiempo. [] Hay Sorteos impersonales, de propsito indefnido: uno decreta que se arroje a las aguas
del Eufrates un zafro de Taprobana; otro, que desde el techo de una torre se suelte un pjaro; otro, que cada siglo
se retire (o se aada) un grano de arena de los innumerables que hay en la playa. Las consecuencias son, a veces,
terribles(pg.129; La lotera de Babilonia).
Por qu Borges escribi sobre arena? La arena es incontable y mientras el diccionario la defne como un
conjunto de partculas desagregadas de las rocas y acumuladas en las orillas de los mares, los ros o en capas de los
terrenos de acarreo para m contina siendo un misterio. Como dice Borges, La arena al igual que el infnito, no
tiene ni principio ni fn. Despus de leer los cuentos que me hicieron refexionar sobre el infnito, la arena se con-
virti en un recurso de inspiracin para mi, para crear un obra de arte/instalacin inspirada en el tema del infnito
y como lo percibo a travs de la literatura de Borges. Al igual que en el infnito, en el mundo del arte no existen
limites. Planeo usar arenas y espejos como los materiales principales para producir esta obra. Ambos materiales
son mencionados constantemente en los cuentos de Borges. La instalacin que se titula Arenas Infnitas consiste
en tres piezas; empezando por dos peceras de vidrio. La luna es del mismo color que la arena infnita (El Inmor-
tal). Dentro de ambas peceras, hay arenas de diferentes colores, cada color divido por papel, y as se crea dentro
de cada pecera una composicin abstracta. El tercer elemento que constituye la Instalacin es una proyeccin de
arena cayndose que sera proyectada entre las dos peceras. As, la proyeccin de arena dar la ilusin de caerse
dentro de la pecera. Tambin integro espejos simtricos en la instalacin.
La linea consta de un numero infnito de puntos; el plano, de un numero infnito de lineas; el volumen, de
un numero infnito de planos; el hipervolumen, de un numero infnito de volmenes (Pg.506; El libro de Arena).
Mi meta es, como me transmiti Borges con su literatura, transmitirle al observador la sensacin de infnito, y
recordarle a ella/el que nosotros como humanos somos un grano que constituye la arena.

Tis is a work of art/installation inspired by the theme of the infnite which I relate to my reading Jorge Luis Borg-
ess work. I use sand and mirrors as the main materials. Both elements are constantly mentioned in Borges stories.
Te installation is made of three pieces: two glass tanks and one projection. Tere is one glass tank hanged against
the wall on the top, and one at the bottom, the projection screened against the wall between both tanks. Te tanks
contain diferently colored sand and is separated with paper inside the tank, creating an abstract composition. I
also integrate mirror pieces in the piece. Te projection consists of a repeated sequence of sand falling, creating a
visual efect of sand falling constantly. Te total measurement of the piece is about 54 feet tall and 3feet wide. My
goal in to transmit to the viewer the feeling of the infnite, and to remind him/her that we as humans are each of
us a grain of sand within the universe.
Having recently moved to Northern California, I am daily navigating the new and weaving it together with the
old to mitigate my sense of displacement. In an attempt to reconcile various homes, there is a defnite confusion
and creative reimagining an oneiric quality as memory and the present meld and shape one another. Frequently,
places may overlap or even be replaced; an instance of acclimation in the cycles of ones life. With this video,
Unconscionable Maps (quoted from Borges On Exactitude in Science, a tale of obsessive cartography covering a
land in equal ratio maps), I convey that confusion and interchangeability.
Te Borges works most consistently on my mind are the short story On Exactitude in Science (1946), the poem
Mirrors (1960), and the lecture Blindness (1977). Lately, obsessive ruminations of Te Circular Ruins (1940)
have been pervasive as well. I am drawn to how these four in particular focus on the unknown or perceived un-
known the conquering of it, the embracing of it, and the inherent knowledge and cyclical creation of it. In the
case of Te Circular Ruins, in which a man is dreamt and created by another as he himself does the same, the
ideas of intangible infuence and the power to create ones world are particularly relevant.
Te confused cartographies in Unconscionable Maps are my own, collected within the past year and a half from
or of modes of transportation, sites of established or forming homes, or places where I feel some part of me was
discovered (as in a circular ruin). Te overlapping audio and visuals (not necessarily synched with their correct
partners) speak to the residual nature of previous experiences in our lives, specifcally during periods of transition.
As with much of Borges work, the acceptance and appreciation for losing and gaining in equal measure is central
to this piece. Te representation of memories interacting with the present emerges as a portrayal of Borgesian cy-
cles, simultaneous realities, displacement, and recreation.
Unconscionable Maps
Megan Broughton
I did not think that I had returned upstream on the supposed waters of Time; rather I suspected
that I was the possessor of a reticent or absent sense of the inconceivable word eternity.
A New Refutation of Time, Borges
Borges exploration of the infnite, his disregard for linear time, creates fourishing, labyrinthine frames, through
which his readers can access nonlinear time. To attempt to come in contact with eternity is to attempt to access
the inaccessible. Te art object that leads us through the doors of perception into the imperceivable must create
an opening for us to access the void, nothingness. In order to lay bare the unseeable, it is necessary to create gaps,
silences, emptiness in order to expunge that which is hidden. Te void must be framed.
Overwhelming the senses is flling an empty cup so full that it is a drowning space, drowning the perception of
the participant, transforming emptiness to fullness to emptiness. We experience art through the emergence and
submergence of our own experience of the void, Not only does fullness come into actuality from emptiness (or
fail to come into actuality by remaining within emptiness); it is by virtue of emptinessand through emptiness by
hollowingopening widethat fullness can ceaselessly produce its full efect.
My frame is the complete inundation of the senses. Tis piece is an installation, a performance piece, an interactive
sound sculpture, and an interactive video sculpture. My intention is to draw in the audience, one at a time, and
invite them to duck into a low tunnel. A Microsof Kinect tracks the viewers body, that data controls the 8 speak-
ers that line the tunnel, and also controls the movement of the projections, which frame the end of the tunnel. At
the end of the tunnel sits a faceless, Marian fgure, holding a bowl of water. As the viewer approaches the faceless
fgure, the sound closes in around the viewers head, and the projections intensify into a dazzling ring of lights.
She washes the hands of the viewers. Te viewers subsequent retreat from her destroys the image and destroys
the sound. By washing hands, I am intending to pierce through the overwhelming experience around the viewers
body with a physically grounding sensation. As soon as the water connects with the hands, it shatters the normal
perceptual boundaries of art-viewing; contact is made.
Furthermore, I am exploring the symbolic identity of the Virgen de Guadalupe that has emerged out of colonized
Mexico. Te Aztecs ... had an elaborate, coherent symbolic system for making sense of their lives. When this was
destroyed by the Spaniards, something new was needed to fll the void and make sense of New Spain ... the image of
Guadalupe served that purpose.
Guadalupe is a non-white vision of Mary, an indigenous goddess transformed,
recognized by the Catholic church. Mary is regarded so highly that some instances of Catholicism border on being
a Marian cult. Worshipping a female deity is fully outside Christian doctrine, women being a manifestation of
Other. Guadalupe, being an indigenous Mary, is an embraced Other outside of Western European Christianity,
a symbol of non-judgement and unconditional motherly love, of a flled cup.
Francois Jullien
Patricia Harrington
Suzanne Kite
At frst it was believed that Tln was a mere chaos, an
irresponsible license of the imagination; now it is known
that it is a cosmos.
From Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius in Labyrinths, p. 8.