The Garden of Forking Paths
Literature and Writing Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
"I recalled, too, the night in the middle of The Thousand and One Nights when Queen Scheherazade, through a magical mistake on the part of her copyist, started to tell the story of The Thousand and One Nights, with the risk of again arriving at the night upon which she will relate it, and thus on to infinity." (44)
This idea of an infinite text reminds us of an M.C. Escher painting, circling in on itself in an infinite spiral without ever reaching an end.
"I also imagined a Platonic hereditary work, passed on from father to son, to which each individual would add a new chapter or correct, with pious care, the work of his elders." (44)
We're suddenly reminded of the lack of women in this story. We can think of a whole lot of problems with this patriarchal notion of infinity – like what happens when you don't have any sons?
"In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives he chooses one at the expense of the others. In the almost unfathomable Ts'ui Pen, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them. He thus creates various futures, various times which start others that will in their turn branch out and bifurcate in other times. That is the cause of the contradictions in the novel." (46)
Once we have a clear idea of the way Ts'ui Pen's novel works (like hypertext or those Choose Your Own Adventure novels we keep talking about) we can begin to understand how it functions as a metaphor for time.