Fantastic Architecture

I just finished reading the Borges’s Collected Fictions. As a book collector, I am always drawn to his story The Library of Babel. Whenever I think of Borges’s Library I think of Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International. Such an association is no great leap of the imagination. I wonder if Borges was aware of Tatlin’s Tower in the same way he was intimate with Kafka’s castles and prisons. The infinite library of the internet could probably provide me with an answer. In any case, my Borges inhabited Tatlin's Tower as much as he was incarcerated in Kafka's prisons.

Tatlin’s Tower like Borges’s Library is infinite and labyrinthine, spiraling into nothingness. Both have more than an element of madness. The Library of Babel is The Tower gone to seed, the initial fervor of endless possibility and optimism worn away by the passage of millennia and the prospect of more to come.

Yet what I like best about the comparison is that the full majesty of Tatlin’s Tower was never realized. The Tower lives on in theory as The Library lives on in dreams, but that is not quite right. What I mean is that they both were fully realized only on paper. In their essence, they are not eternal or ethereal, they are ephemeral.



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