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Man holding honey frome from bee hive.


The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps an infinite, number of hexagonal galleries...When it was proclaimed that the Library comprised all books, the first impression was one of extravagant joy...But the certainty that everything has already been written nullifies or makes phantoms of us all.

Jorge Luis Borges (1956/62)


Hexagons fascinate. Borges spins them into a fable. Bees find in them the shape of greatest efficiency. And wielders of metaphor, probing the idea of the ‘self’, The photographer taking a photograph into a mirror. On the reality, or otherwise, of finding a 'self'. can harness them in the following way. A set of adjoining hexagons can have walls that are separate Two types of hexagon in a group, on the left each with its own wall, on the right having a single wall between each. but neighbouring, or, as with the bees’ comb, there may be single mutual walls. Applying this to the idea of the self we may have an autonomous independently functioning self which can be clearly separated from others; Two friends warming by a match. Our friends inhabit separate spaces. or a self which is partly artefact, being a function of the others around it - as when we share an attitude with them. Man looking into the camera. Projection as one of the ways that selves share. Either way we are dealing in metaphors that easily mislead: elements of both will obtain. At the least hexagons act to warn us of the wiles of metaphor, and in doing so may wean us from seeing selves as being like bodies - readily detachable from the group - and allow each self to be partly composed of the other selves around it.

For a considerable part of his life Borges was a librarian, in his short story The Library of Babel, he brings together an endless library (effectively containing the output of those mythical typing monkeys). The quote is taken from the collection Fictions published by John Calder (1965), page 72. The three quotes are from different parts of the story which does not hinge on the tricks of the hexagon.

A bee keeper showing us honeycombs from his hives in Sơn La Province, north western Vietnam.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 21st August 2021

Murphy on duty to this site