‘The Circular ruins’ is a short story written by Jorge Luis Borges about a wizard who moves away from humanity to the circular ruins, an isolated location which is considered to hold magical power. The wizard is motivated to create a human being and he intends to do so by dreaming up the human.
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To do so, the wizard starts sleeping and dreaming for prolonged periods on a daily basis where he imagines a young man who gradually gains wisdom and knowledge. Soon, the wizard begins to lose sleep to the point where he can no longer dream of the young man.
The wizard therefore declares the first endeavor to create a human as a failure and decides to try again. After several attempts, he finally falls asleep where he initially dreams of an indistinct form which gradually becomes a clear image of a heart in subsequent nights.
The wizard continues to give detail to his young man form for many years until finally he feels that the form is complete upon which he requests the god Fire to give life to the form. Fire agrees and the form finally becomes just like a human and is sent to the real world to work in a secluded temple of the god Fire.
Since the creation is not human, it is able to do astonishing deeds like walking through fire and on hot coal without being burnt. The creation becomes famous so much so that the wizard learns of these achievements and decides to visit the creation. When he arrives, the wizard walks into the flaming house of Fire and become aware of the fact that just like his creation, he too is not burnt by fire and realizes that he is also a creation of another dreamer.
Jorge Luis Borges in ‘The Circular ruins’ articulates the prospect that reality is superlative, hence the conscious mind controls all the matter around it. The story takes an idealist approach to realism by suggesting that ideas are just as powerful as reality. For instance, the idea of a rock is just as real as a material rock to a material person to a mind that identifies the idealized rock as real (Costa 78).
The deeper meaning could therefore be that the mind has the power to expand and compress reality hence if the mind is incapable of connecting with reality more than what it is familiar with, what the mind then recognizes is the only pertinent reality (Bronstein 647). The wizard in ‘The Circular Ruins’ lives in the reality of ordinary men before he relocates to the ruins and he is regarded by others and views himself as a normal man (Asma 6). The wizard goes ahead to imagine another person only to realize later that he too is an idea.
Borges here implies that our existence as human beings could also be the thoughts of a more powerful being and since we have no way of knowing, authority has to come from the being that allows us to understand our existence(Costa 81). Consequently, no one is completely certain that their reality including their mind and ideas is not just another person’s imagination which would make their imagination reality (Bronstein 654).
In conventional and modern cosmology, dreams play a major role in enhancing communication between the conscious and subconscious mind as well as bridges the gap between the dream and the dreamer (Hagar 3). The meaning of the dream could be that the wizard was subconsciously longing for a son or a new invention (Asma 9). It is also possible that the wizard was indeed a dream which would mean that the dreamer was neither focused nor was he actually committed to his intentions though the Ego was willing(Hagar 4).
The god Fire is of the essence in the rule of anatomy because he is the one that consequently forms reality out of the wizard’s imagination (Bronstein 659). However, it is in his second attempt that he is able to successfully create an individual through a more thorough and detailed process from the first (Asma 10).
According to Hagar, the anatomy of the final creation has various meanings and interpretations the most profound being the importance of time in doing anything worthwhile (6). The first creation is created rather quickly when compared to the second being meaning some crucial aspects might have been overlooked. In addition, the detailed amalgamation of the second being perpetuates the meaning that carefully collected thoughts are potent and more likely to generate the expected results (Costa 85).
One major advantage that this short story has over conventional philosophic prose is the ability of the author to connect emotionally with the reader. In doing so, cavernous meanings can be drawn from the dreams at both an anatomy and cosmology levels as well as form an idealistic state of mind (Asma 12). It is however apparent that the author meant for the reader to question his environment as well as his thoughts in order to ultimately understand his reality, identity and existence.
Asma, Matthew. Borges: Intruding on Reality. May 2002. Web.
Bronstein, Catalina. Borges, Immortality and the Circular Ruins. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol.83, No. 7, pp.647-660, 2002.
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Costa de René. Humor in Borges. Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2000. Print.
Hagar, Salamon. Between Conscious and Subconscious: Depth-to-Depth Communication in the Ethnographic Space. Sep., 2002. Ethos, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 249-272. April 26, 2010: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3651873?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents