May 2: Borges in the real world

Borges is famous for his baroque tales and parables that rehearse strange coincidences and weird symmetries. Time and reality may turn back upon themselves or twist through a an Escherian spiral into some paradoxical void. You do not expect to find Borges in the classroom.
A student had an exercise to accomplish for his Spanish oral. For the exam, whcih was to describe a photograph, he told his teacher he had a photograph at home of him and his family having a Christmas meal. The picture showed mother, father, brothers and sisters, dog, festive champagne and general merriment. Over the next two or three weeks the boy with his teacher prepared his description of the photo in Spanish, whcih he would then learn and polish for the imminent oral exam. Two days before the exam the teacher asked to see the actual photo which would have to be sent away with a recording of the speech to the examination board for marking. At this juncture the student (let us call him Arnold) admitted that the photo did not exist. It didn’t matter, he said, because his friend was very good at photoshop and using a number of separate photographs of father, mother, brothers and sisters, dog and champagne, could recreate the image that Arnold would be describing in his oral. The next day when the teacher and Arnold met up for final preparation Arnold admitted that the photoshop boy was unable to help him reproduce such a complexly described reality, but what Arnold could do was go home and search through the family photo albums and try and find a photograph that matched the reality he had so lovingly created for his oral exam. For Arnold it was too late to begin composition of another real picture. He would have to stick with the original text that he had so brilliantly constructed (the Spanish in his speech was exquisite) and try and find a picture of a reality that corresponded to that.
Borges never wrote this story, but he should have.

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