Tag Archives: jorge luis borges

Parallels 13 – (Ac)counting (for) the un(ac)countable

Yes, the awful pun (is it even a pun?) is on purpose.

Beowulf was obviously willing to die in vengeance for his fallen lord, but his revenge succeeded: he crushed Daeghrefn and killed “thirty” other men, the figure used in Beowulf for a very great number
.
– S. Gwara, ‘King Beowulf and Ealdormonn Byrhtnoð’, in his Heroic Identity in the World of Beowulf (Leiden, 2008)

(for reference, Beowulf was written in Anglo-Saxon England, sometime between the 8th and the 11th century

And the queen gave birth to a child who was called Asterion.

Apollodorus Bibliotecha III, I

I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps of madness. Such accusations (for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are derisory. It is true that I never leave my house, but it is also true that its doors (whose numbers are infinite) (footnote: The original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for infinite.) are open day and night to men and to animals as well.
[…]
Not only have I imagined these games, I have also meditated on the house. All parts of the house are repeated many times, any place is another place. There is no one pool, courtyard, drinking trough, manger; the mangers, drinking troughs, courtyards pools are fourteen (infinite) in number. The house is the same size as the world; or rather it is the world. However, by dint of exhausting the courtyards with pools and dusty gray stone galleries I have reached the street and seen the temple of the Axes and the sea. I did not understand this until a night vision revealed to me that the seas and temples are also fourteen (infinite) in number. Everything is repeated many times, fourteen times, but two things in the world seem to be repeated only once: above, the intricate sun; below Asterion. Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer remember.

– Jorge Luis Borges, The House of Asterion (La Casa de Asterion), Argentina, 1947

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