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The Secret Miracle

The Secret Miracle

by Jorge Luis Borges

Versions of Reality Theme

From the very first sentence of "The Secret Miracle," it's pretty clear that this story plays with the conflict between an objective, historically-rooted reality, and the subjective experiences that occur within a person's mind. The many different ways that Jaromir experiences time – in dreams, in circular obsessions, in literature, and finally, in a kind of suspended-reality in which the physical universe freezes – are all a little bit different (and a lot hard to understand!). But Borges never says that any one reality is more "real" than any of the others. Instead, he prefers to give us a little taste of a whole bunch of different interpretations so that we'll think about it from all angles. So what do you think? Are you with Borges or is Jaromir just a crazy-pants?

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Jaromir's book, A Vindication of Eternity, talks about a few different interpretations of time, including "Parmenides' static Being," "Hinton's modifiable past," and the argument against the idea that "all the events of the universe constitute a temporal series" (4). Whew. It's okay if you don't understand these ideas – we sure don't pretend to – but they sound so deliciously thought-provoking. What could "static Being" mean? What about a "modifiable past"? Could you see these ideas setting the scene for a science fiction novel?
  2. How many different kinds of reality does Jaromir experience in this story? Where do you see them?
  3. Can you imagine a way to depict these complex ideas about time in a TV show or movie? Over here, we're picturing a Matrix-like freezing of time, or the dream sequences from Inception.

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This story is an exercise in subjectivity: the fact that it opens with a dream is a clue that the most important events of "The Secret Miracle" take place within the protagonist's mind.

In his book, Jaromir argues that "time is a fallacy" (4). Jaromir's own personal experiences in prison totally support that idea.

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