The Secret Miracle
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
- 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?
- How many different kinds of reality does Jaromir experience in this story? Where do you see them?
- 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
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.