On Exactitude in Science, Borges

Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley. …In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, … Continue reading On Exactitude in Science, Borges

The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism

Originally published in the Atlantic Monthly on August 20 2013 A great herd of readers profess devotion to Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick, but novelists especially seem to love saying they love it. On The Top Ten, a website that lists authors’ favorite books, Moby-Dick is cited more often than not (and by writers as dissimilar as John Irving and Robert Coover, Bret Easton Ellis and Joyce Carol Oates). But … Continue reading The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism

Missing Ink

A German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by the censors, he tells his friends: ‘Let’s establish a code: if a letter you get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it’s true; if it’s written in red ink, it’s false.’ After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: ‘Everything is … Continue reading Missing Ink