Thursday, June 17, 2010
Conclusions about borges and the digital world
Each of the stories mentioned in the previous post exemplifies a certain characteristic of Borges' fiction: ambiguity. He outlines theorems and hypotheses and maps out alternate worlds. But he doesn't tell us what to make of them. In each of these three stories, one of these supernatural ideas is realized, and it entirely changes the world of the characters in the story. Likewise, the digital can, and is changing our world rapidly and irrevocably.
But it isn't always clear if this change is inherently good or bad. I beleive this ambiguity is intentional. Borges realizes the artificiality of his fictions. They are thought experiments, like those of the the theoreticians of Tlon, and they are subject to translation and rearrangement and imagination. The ambiguity and open-endedness of Borges' fictional scenarios predicts that of digital paradigm that we are struggling to make sense of. It's a kind of environmental identity crisis. We aren't sure what the digital world is. For the most part we don't understand how it works; we don't see the inner working of it's technology. But how that technology is utilized is dependent on us. It's shaped not just by computer programmers, but those who use the digital media to communicate and create. Like the theoreticians of Tlon, or the dream sorcerer, or the reader of Borges, we can make out of it what we want to.We really have considerable power to make things happen in the digital world, and by extension, the real world.