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Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing Excercise, via Jorge Luis Borges' "THE ALEPH"

"He said he had to have the house so he could finish his poem--because in one corner of the cellar there was an Aleph.  He explained that an Aleph is one of the points in space that contain all points. ...  'I must forewarn you: dorsal decubitus is essential, as are darkness, immobility, anda certain ocular accommodation.  You'll lie on the tile floor and fix your eyes on the nineteenth step of the pertinent stairway.  I'll reascend the stairs, let down the trap door, and you'll be alone.  Some rodent will frighten you--easy enough to do!  Within a few minutes, you will see the Aleph.  The microcosm of the alchemists and Kabbalists, our proverbial friend in the multum in parvo, made flesh!'" (from "The Aleph," by Jorge Luis Borges).

Gaze within its form and see every
angle of the universe.

Write an absolutely terrible piece of poetry.  Once it's completed, compose a review of your dreadful piece, defending it point by point and with false modesty, as the greatest example of poetic literature ever contributed to humanity.


  1. Awesome, another chance to make my 2 hours of wasted time from a few weeks ago seem less wasted.

    Hope and Vindication with Syrup

    Delicious waffle, you were not meant to be.
    Back then they said this day would never come.
    And that to make a waffle; I, too dumb.
    "Naive! Make eggs instead!" was their decree.
    Pour mix and water and the vegetable oil.
    Ingredients divided won't unite.
    I would not ever take initial bite.
    But I was bold to dare, I chanced the toil.

    To Mouth: O bite of Heav'n! O crunch divine!
    O Death, where is thy sting? Praise conqu'ring Lamb!
    Who cares that I forgot to spray the Pam?
    Would that words be inscribed upon hearts thus dear!
    Sweet Waffle, thou art more than Breakfast mine.
    Triumphal vict'ry o'er Doubt; Hope o'er Fear.

    I will post the defense in a separate post.

  2. From the beginning, we can almost taste the tension between societal expectations and the relationship between the waffle and its cook. The cook recognizes the waffle as delicious, but hints that it is somewhat of a forbidden fruit. It wasn't meant to be? What does this mean? What kind of a risk is the cook taking in making this waffle and calling it delicious in spite of what society at large thinks? Further, we find out that not only was everyone opposed the creation of this waffle, but they also were confident it would never come. Can you imagine the doubt that the waffle and cook must have felt? You almost have to imagine them just internalizing the world to themselves, ignoring outside criticism, but it must have been hard. Next, we find out that it's not really making the waffle that's the problem; it's the cook making it. Clearly he is a down-and-out character who no one thinks could put a couple of pancakes on the griddle, much less a waffle. Then, in words that recall the torment of the gospel and Psalm 22, they taunt him to make eggs instead. You can almost see the suffering servant cook in the kitchen being derided, maybe forced to wear a purple apron. The next few lines describe how you the cook could take all the right steps, and he still would not be able to taste the fruits of his labor. But the conclusion of the first stanza shows that, in spite of all this, he is going to be bold and try to cook the waffle anyway.

    The second stanza is the resurrection theme. After being in the dark and stifling tomb of the waffle maker, the cook finally takes it out and has a first bite. He sings in celestial wonderment the rest of the poem, using language reminiscent of the introduction to Job's claim that, "I know that my redeemer lives." Despite the mistake of forgetting to spray the Pam, and as imperfect as he and the waffle are, the victory of hope over fear and doubt prevails. And if there can be hope for a hapless cook and his waffle, then that tells us that their can be hope in the midst of our fears, too.

  3. *there in the last line, not sure if I made any other mistakes. It was a lot of typing.

  4. Great, James.

    Have you read any Borges? I think you'd really enjoy him. Deep.

  5. I'm almost sure I read him in my Latin American History, Lit., and Art class, but I can't remember what it might have been.


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