Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bahamut - slightly adapted from Jorge Luis Borges

"God made the earth, but the earth had no base and so under the earth he made an angel. But the angel had no base and so under the angel's feet he made a crag of ruby. But the crag had no base and so under the crag he made a bull endowed with four thousand eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and feet. But the bull had no base and so under the bull he made a fish named Bahamut (so immense and dazzling is Bahamut that the eyes of man cannot bear its sight; all the seas of the world, placed in one of the fish's nostrils, would be like a mustard seed laid in the desert), and under Bahamut God put water, and under the water he put darkness, and beyond this men's knowledge does not reach."

Just reading Borges's book again as ideas for a new novel simmer in my brain. Every time I read this entry in The Book of Imaginary Beings I can't help a) delighting in the metaphysician's inventiveness and description and b) laughing. I wonder, if the metaphysician was going to end the description with "beyond this men's knowledge does not reach" why did he bother investing such detail in his preceding descriptions, particularly of the bull and the fish? But mostly what I wonder is how he asserted the other levels in the stack with so much certainty if he was comfortable admitting the limits of his knowledge? Was he really so certain a giant fish held a bull that held a ruby mountain that held an angel that held the world?

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