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VANISHING ACT: PHILIPPE THOMAS

IN A STORY BY Jorge Luis Borges, a man dreams a son. He invents the soma and persona of a son, and then, in his dreams, releases his progeny to lead the semblance of an autonomous existence. Soon, however, he perceives a flaw in the veneer of his almost perfect simulacrum—he realizes that the son will soon discover the ephemerality of his own status. The man decides to inform the boy of this tenuousness himself, but in the process, as in the turning of a wheel, he discovers that he too is the creature of circumstances like the son’s—that he too is a figment of somebody else’s imagination.1 Such circularity defines all Borgesian labyrinths. Puzzle is heaped upon puzzle, cognitive structure upon cognitive structure, to reveal in their interstices the gaps permeating all human systems, all constructs of the mind—be they the constructs of the self, of philosophy, of mathematics, of time.

This

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