Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins. // Chora. The archaeology of knowledge


From 17 September 2017




Garage Education Center


In this lecture, Velikanov will concentrate on the tropes and characters of Jorge Luis Borges which simultaneously operate as forms of philosophical contemplations.

Chora was the territory of the Ancient Greek polis allotted for growing olives or grapes. Plato used this term for defining a specific space between the world of ideas and that of sensuous perception. His chora is the embodiment of pure unpredictability, nonidentity, and chance. In postmodern theories, the category of chora is reconsidered and turned into a metaphor of self-propelled sign systems. One of the key things helping the understanding of this idea is Borges’s interpretation of the eventfulness space as a “garden of forking paths”.

“These ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies remind us of those which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled 'Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge'. In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.” (Jorge Luis Borges, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, 1952)

“This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other.” (Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, 1966)


Andrey Velikanov is a philosopher, art theorist, and artist. His publications on art and cultural theory include Am I a Trembling Simulacrum, or Do I Have the Right? (NLO, 2007). He has taught at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian State University for the Humanities, UNIC Institute, Wordshop Communications Academy, Moscow 1905 Art Academy, MediaArtLab Open School, Center of Avant-Garde at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, and Free Workshops Art School, and regularly gives talks and takes part in discussions at various venues. He is also a recipient of several media art awards and prizes including Ostranenie (Germany), DADANET (Russia), Art on the Net (Japan), TrashArt (Russia), Southwest Interactive Festival (U.S.A.), and Split (Croatia).


Free admission