humanities essays

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Kenneth Udut (He/Him), or you can view the full discussion.

from Discussion Board Module 1 – About Me
Jan 8, 2024 12:47AM
Kenneth Udut
Hello! My name is Kenneth Udut. I’m living in Naples, Florida in an area far away from city life, deep in a quiet wood. Being from suburban New Jersey, it’s been interesting living here.

I’m taking this course as I’d like to deepen my knowledge of this period of history from various perspectives, to get a better grasp of culture. It’s important to be exposed to multiple perspectives, multiple fields, multiple views, to be a well-rounded individual. Last semester I took an Intro to Women’s Studies here and it broadened my view and I hope to broaden my views in yet other ways through this humanities course.

I’m a little nervous as it seems as if it will be a lot of material to be covered in a short amount of time but I’m hopeful for success.

I’ve been to college several times in my life. My first attempt was at Hampshire College, a school with no tests and no grades, which appealed to me. Unfortunately, unable to finish for financial reasons, I left. I have no regrets as it truly expanded my view on the world but there is no credit for work done as it is a non-traditional school. Years later, I went to a community college in person in New Jersey and took several classes while temping at a pharmaceutical company with an eye towards special education teaching but at about 1/2 way through the corporation hired me and so I paused my education.

Flash forward and FSCJ marvelously took ALL of my credits from my community college from 20+ years prior, allowing me to work towards making use of previous education credits that otherwise would just sit there doing nothing.

Taking classes remotely, entirely online, from a computer on the back lanai of a porch situated in the woods from the other side of Florida has been experience since last semester. We live in amazing times and despite what doom and gloom we may see, even more amazing times are yet to come. All things pass yet we can learn from what remains and tie it together into a narrative.


The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Kenneth Udut (He/Him), or you can view the full discussion.

from Discussion Board Module 2
Jan 12, 2024 10:55PM
Kenneth Udut
Kenneth Udut

Spring-2242-HUM2250 Humanities: 20th & 21st Cent-2048


The Modernist Assault

Modernism ushered in a drastic shattering of the past forms. Rather than building upon past masters as might have been done previously, modernism came into the world bringing entirely new outlooks from which to create from. It was very deliberately cerebral as a whole; scientific in its experimentation, iconoclastic in its spirit. Newness in every endeavor was a common focus, not as just a flourish or an accent but in a very tangible way; the idea of “make it new” – creation, hands on, subjective participation lay at the heart of modernism.
Meret Openheim’s Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure), 1936, is a very tangible example of Surrealist art. Consisting of an everyday cup, saucer and spoon, the artist added fur to each of the commonplace objects, is a disruption “to preconceived notions of the physical world” (Wendtorf, 2023). The surprise – even shock – of encountering such a piece not only invites the viewer to participate in the art but quite intentionally demands their engagement by its compelling and disorienting display. The “furring” of everyday objects also has a bit of a fetishing, sensual, even sexual element to the piece, a visceral rawness often found in Modernist constructions.
In the world of Modernist music, Arnold Shoenberg’s form of serialism known as the “twelve-tone system” also has its own kind of very deliberate intentionality found in Modernist art forms. Highly theoretical, the applications of this experimental approach were disturbing to many and also well received by students and audiences for its innovation, “making it new”. Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierror, 1912) created while he was developing his ideas, had the precursors to his soon-to-arrive system in place, exhibiting what would become his signature atonality and dissonance, with a stream-of-consciousness text. The pitches are approximated, “so that the voices may glide in a wailing manner from note to note” (Wendtorf, 2023), a kind of organic connective quality that can be seen as similar to the fur on the cup, one’s own emotional engagements as a listener or viewer becoming an integral part of the art itself, blurring the lines between objectivity and subjectivity, art and artist.

Works Cited:


from Discussion Board Module 2
Jan 15, 2024 2:51PM
Kenneth Udut
I like your inclusion of Duchamp’s Fountain as an example of the poignant and absurd juxtapositions quite deliberately created in modernism and particularly in Dadaism. In this case, he pointed out the absurdity of the art world itself using a found object and challenging not only the viewers of the piece but the curators themselves as to their own role in perpetuating such a social form as the art world. What surprises me about that piece is that it feels iconoclastic in a very 1960s way and yet it stretches back to 1917, showing just how powerful the form is to not only have staying power but also to find freshly interested audiences generations later.

from Discussion Board Module 2
Jan 15, 2024 3:03PM
Kenneth Udut
Hi Abeena,
in answer to the question after #3, I’d say that yes, there is a valid reason many people were disturbed by this new way of musical art.
Our musical cultures tend to follow particular musical forms.

Western music has church modes and greek modes, Iranian music has Dastgah which has a distinctive sound, India’s Raga, familiar to anyone who hears Sitar, China has Shang and yet here comes an experiment that was not from a tradition that was previously heard but something new created out of one man’s mind, based on some theories and ideas he had.

Arguably, iconoclasm could be considered part of Western tradition, at least post-Lutheran, so Western students flocking to the novelty of the new form isn’t surprising from an intellectual reasoning. But because the sound itself is not part any past tradition, listeners’ ears might not understand and if they’re not listening for iconoclastic novelty but instead for the musical modes their ears are accustomed to, they might naturally not care for this novel style, born out of a single man’s notions rather than layered upon existing sound material.

from Discussion Board Module 2
Jan 20, 2024 12:10AM
Kenneth Udut
Oh I appreciate the choice of James Joyce’s stream of consciousness. What I like is that it was an attempt at a raw exploration of mind but that wasn’t necessarily held to Freudian ideas and yet recognized the power of the exploration of the mind-as-it-presents itself, challenging the reader.

It’s like sets of puzzle pieces from different sets that don’t quite fit together all presented as if they should and yet they might not. The distinction between inner and outer reality is blurred or non-existent as well. It is a great example of modernist creations the have the boldness to forge new paths putting out things that would seem to not fit and might not fit yet giving the reader as participant an opportunity to bring their own selves into the process and work with it more directly than a solely objective text.

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Kenneth Udut (He/Him), or you can view the full discussion.

from Discussion Board Module 3 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 2
Jan 17, 2024 1:57AM
Kenneth Udut


​​Spring-2242-HUM2250 Humanities: 20th & 21st Cent-2048​


​​In this short excerpt of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, there are many, many objects.​ There is the bed he cannot get out of, laying on his hard, armor plated back which apparently is part of his body now, along with numerous legs wiggling helplessly and a brown belly. Did his alarm clock fail to go off, preventing him from waking? There’s the train schedules; will he make to work on time?

There’s the room he is in; door locked, quiet space. He is very much in his safe space – a neutral space he does not even have to think about much, but there is so much he must scurry to. He must carry the samples, deal with dreaded people, make the sales, when he’s much rather stay at the office, presumably a similarly quiet, safe space. ​But the noise beckons and he must leave this neutral territory whereby were it not for the tyranny of the hectic work schedule of the modern world and demands of family and despite whatever the furred woman from the cut out magazine represents; the key and then the door and he must make it through to his duties.​

This large collection of objects shown in even this short excerpt in this surreal, dream-like situation makes it a perfect story for Freudian analysis and is a demonstration of the thinking of the era and the influence of Freud. ​Situating the main character in such a situation pulls us out of our comfortable realities, questioning what ​our ‘self’​ consists of and viewing all of these objects with the eyes of someone who is just as confused as everybody is about their own unconscious makes this a safe exploration of this strange realm.​

For Freud, objects can represent unconscious psychic realities, drives and conflicts, repressions and urges alike. It is significant that there is so many; as a whole they represent aspects of a single consciousness. Gregor Samsa’s consciousness, represented best by his bedroom space at present, is a little cramped but familiar. The locked door parallels his new hard shelled armor in keeping him safe but unable to move without difficulty, just as being trapped in the room is safe but prevents him from moving ahead; presumably there is no additional freedom to be found beyond the door either with the addition of chaotic modern life that he cannot turn over, go to sleep and wish away as he can in his locked room, protected by his hard shell, holding him to his bed and unable to move through life with ease – legs numerous yet inadequate despite the desire to scurry all at once.

As Freud says in a footnote in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900),

It was not for a long time that I learned to appreciate the significance of the phantasies and unconscious thoughts relating to life in the womb. They contain the explanation of the curious dread, felt by so many people, of being buried alive, as well as the profoundest unconscious reason for the belief in a life after death, which represents only the projection into the future of this mysterious life before birth. The act of birth, moreover, is the first experience attended by anxiety, and is thus, the source and model of the affect of anxiety. (Freud)

To further a Freudian psychosexual analysis, there is the representation of the mysterious new image of the woman in the gilded picture frame cut out of a magazine in the story:

It showed a lady, with a fur cap on and a fur stole, sitting upright and holding out to the spectator a huge fur muff into which the whole of her forearm had vanished!


This represents an idealized mother from which he wishes to be born. The fur cap, the fur stole, the huge fur muff into which her whole forearm had vanished, inviting him to be reborn. The open muff facing the viewer represents the birth canal and the fur overall representing the mother’s pubic hair.

Works Cited:

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams Sigmund Freud (1900). 1900,‌

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. 1915. PDF downloaded.

from Discussion Board Module 3 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 2
Jan 27, 2024 2:48PM
Kenneth Udut
I’ve never been very strong on Freud and the way that Freud breaks things down.

Now, I’m proud of how I did on the assignment and wouldn’t change a thing.

However, I find your presentation of the different levels that Freud uses very clear. I appreciate how you linked each together to different family members. That is something that did not fully jump out at me in my own reading of the text provided.

Your specific examples demonstrating how each level tied to each family member was also very comprehendible. I suppose as I was raised on newer kinds of psychology that built upon or modified Freud, I often found the id/ego/superego distinctions to be imprecise or confusing, particularly the superego. But I can see now how they play out here in this writing that was contemporary to Freud.
from Discussion Board Module 3 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 2
Feb 3, 2024 8:28AM
Kenneth Udut
I very much appreciate your take on mental illness and the importance of normalizing it. I’ve often been critical of Freud, for while I see incredible value in psychology and counselling, I always found psychoanalysis to be a bit of “just-so stories”, particularly Freud.

However, you’ve shone a different light on the importance of Freud. The way you show Freud through the lens of Kafka’s Metamorphasis as an advocate for compassion and understanding by portraying the main character as a sympathetic soul who is going through incredibly difficult things mentally has helped me see Freud through a new light.

I’ll still make remarks about Freud’s misses but perhaps less from a negative angle and more from a compassionate angle in that he worked with what he could and did amazing things with good intention.

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Kenneth Udut (He/Him), or you can view the full discussion.

from Discussion Board Module 4 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 3
Jan 31, 2024 8:46AM
Kenneth Udut

Spring-2242-HUM2250 Humanities: 20th & 21st Cent-2048

Mud and Blood

Mud and blood. These two words encapsulate the briefest of summarizes for the two movies screened, All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930 and Regeneration. I was reminded of the surrealist fur-lined teacup and saucer of Meret Oppenheim, 1936, whereby two normally incompatible things merge in a way that is extremely visceral and ‘felt’ at a deep, instant, almost indescribable level. There is a wrongness without a righting possible as the mixture has no barriers; the fur and the cup, the mud and the blood forming an incomprehensible unit of life, was-life, not life.

These are exemplified by the overhead flyover in the beginning of Regeneration and the trench and ground fighting scenes of All Quiet on the Western Front, the merging foreshadowed in their initial sadistic crawling mud training with the ex-postman.

One can’t drink from the fur-lined cup and the incompatibility of trench warfare placed upon the porcelain-faced youth leads to the changing of youth and life and hope and a masculine seeming rationality and powerfulness into agedness and illness, despair and into what was once considered feminine seeming neurosis and utter fragility. The expression “war changes a man” is the tip of the iceberg of what these two movies displayed.

The characters in Regeneration were based upon a novel; the novel, a fictionalization of some real people (Mullan). Significantly, Dr. Rivers, the war-loving yet compassionate psychiatrist, Dr Lewis Yealland, who was a pioneer in electro-shock therapy for treating shell-shock and the two war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, were all very people, even of many of the other characters were more representative than actual.

None seemed to be pacifists in Regeneration as all believed in some justifiable wars, even the conscientious objector Sassoon believed in some wars, just not that particular war, and indeed, the same can be said for the characters in All Quiet on the Western Front with the exception of a single scene which seemed to be the characters having a moment speaking clearly with the author’s pacifist voice where the characters all had a moment of rest and food and speculated about the pointlessness of the war, not knowing even who they are fighting and in particular the character who speculated that the leaders of the country should get into a boxing ring in their underwear and fight it out; the winner takes all.

Old men continued to hold onto the old rules which had failed. This new world seemed to have no rules except for that which the subjective experienced trauma and reconciliation (even if resignation to duty, the lackluster solution to facing the forces of the too powerful) could bring.

Works Cited:

Mullan, John. “Regeneration by Pat Barker.” The Guardian, The Guardian, 24 Aug. 2012, to an external site. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

Milestone, Lewis. All Quiet on the Western Front. Universal Pictures, 1930.

“Ecos de La Guerra (Doblado) (English subtitles).”, 1997, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

from Discussion Board Module 4 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 3
Feb 3, 2024 8:40AM
Kenneth Udut
The absolute filth and horror of the trench warfare, which in my essay I called mud and blood, also very much stood out for me in these two movie screenings that we did.

I think we learn more about WW2 because it was filled with charismatic leaders, good and evil, a horror show of precision inhumanity and statistics alike. But WW1 seems to get a more quick treatment, more like a series of facts that happened, things about the League of Nations and the precursors to WW2. But I I remember learning very little about the brutality and hollowness of it.

WW2 had flags to cheer behind. WW1 had lack of communication, uncertainty, flying blind. It was very much madness. All warfare is but the shock was from more than the shells in WW1: it was the loss of the past and the need to embrace uncertainty.

from Discussion Board Module 4 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 3
Feb 3, 2024 8:53AM
Kenneth Udut
These films lay bare devastating truths the soldiers knew but the people back home did not: the swirling, disorienting madness of endless war. They begin with patriotic zeal, ready to rush forward lit by the fires of patriotic zeal only to find that fire quickly dampened then gone, the wood once lit soggy and rotten, the ashes burning into flesh. The bullets never ended; people’s life extinguished both quickly and slowly – more like a mudslide engulfing a village than a fight for honor and glory.

For those that made it back during the war for treatment, the officers were given the best of care, the foot soldiers a quick shock but both had the same goal; go back to the front. I believe one made a comment about there eventually being nothing left to send in but dogs and cats and they’ll send them in too. Truly barbaric.

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Kenneth Udut (He/Him), or you can view the full discussion.

from Discussion Board Module 5 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 4
Feb 8, 2024 12:06AM
Kenneth Udut

Spring-2242-HUM2250 Humanities: 20th & 21st Cent-2048


Beyond Heroes and Villains: Complex Characters in Night

The author makes great use of Introspection and speculation on intent of others in order to reveal character. He has the most insight on his own character, perhaps not his motives as much but rather he observes his own bodily and mental responses to situations, removed even from himself somewhat. Yet he can be exuberant and expressive in his engagement with others and he’s observant of other’s actions in revealing their character. He also has many samples of dialogue which also can show character.

Loss of faith is a major theme as each of them, particularly the autobiographical character of the author who was a very devout child, but noticeable in many others as well. As hardships layered upon hardships, many seem to have failed these tests of faith and yet, perhaps they did not, in consideration of Job, which was a theme as well. Survival, dehumanization, and hope ran through the story as well. Difficult choices for survival, loss of sense of self through dehumanizing treatment by the Nazis and sometimes each other, and yet hope of liberation, flicking and absent at times but in others very much a lifeline that pulls them through for just a few more minutes, just a few more miles, just a little longer until a further sign of hope arrives.

Night is certainly a main symbol of the story. It is in the title and carries through the entire work. Each night was a new opportunity to lose hope, to be vulnerable and fearful with darkness the symbol of evil in the world, the Nazis often arriving in the stories as emerging from the darkness.

Elie is consistently inconsistent in his actions. As I was reading, I noticed how very much a 15-year-old he was, through and through. Observing his father and being unable to act when he wanted to may have somewhat been an aspect of fear from the situation, but it is also a perfectly typical 15-year-old reaction to situations that are overwhelming, along with the guilt that follows. I was brought very much back to being 15 years old throughout the story, knowing that I would likely be watching situations unfold, unable to act, not from any special fear or unique uncertainty but just from being 15, busily mentally processing right from wrong yet unable to directly act very often on it. It’s also very much an aspect of being introverted, this continual introspection, something that I share and yet I also remember it being especially powerful around that age, even more than normal for me. So, I could certainly relate.

Yet, he is not always standoffish or selfish or cowardly. He also has made choices that were selfless and brave where he went outside of himself to go beyond what he might have imagined he might be capable of; possibly a result of the extreme circumstances and yet also, aspects of coming-of-age and growing up.

He is not a villain nor a hero here but complex and multifaceted, a fleshed out human being and strengths and flaws alike. I remember reading this in high school – an older translation as it was many years ago for me – and found myself very much walking with the character throughout.

I wanted to learn more about some of the characters. The pipels were apparently generally a nasty little bunch of boys, likely due to their abuse while also being lackeys except for the one very sympathetic pipel who really came off as a true innocent in a way somewhat different than many other characters. There was another pair of boys that tagged along, Yossi and Tibi would have been interesting to know better, as well as some of the elder religious men, particularly at the points where their faiths were just freshly broken, to try to understand them better.

I would recommend it to someone as it is an autobiographical tale that is very moving and not difficult to read on a part of history that is difficult to comprehend from the inside. Particularly of interest in recommending is that it happened so close to the end of the war rather than the beginning, at a period when it seemed it would be over soon – which it was relatively speaking – but not soon enough to prevent the events here and all of the deaths and horrors to the living.

from Discussion Board Module 5 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 4
Feb 8, 2024 12:10AM
Kenneth Udut
I admire how you recognized Eliezer’s complexity as a character who is simultaneously inconsistent in some ways due to his young age, yet displays great love, bravery, and humanity despite facing unimaginable horrors.

You offer nuanced insights into his character development and highlighted important themes like the loss of faith and struggle for survival that helped drive the plot.

I think your observations about symbols like fire, night, and the camps enhancing our understanding of the characters’ experiences were insightful.

It’s evident you walked alongside Eliezer on his journey through deep engagement with his first-hand account. I appreciate you finding him and his unwavering faith admirable.

from Discussion Board Module 5 – DO NOT FORGET REPLY TO MODULE 4
Feb 12, 2024 12:52PM
Kenneth Udut
I like the choice you made of silence as a symbol in Night. Not only were there periods of actual silence, sometimes filled with anticipation and sometimes just time passing without end… but also there was the implied silence of God. In this, mirroring Job significantly yet was not a tale from a Bronze age text but one that is very modern indeed by the very experiencer of the experiences.



Postmodern Questioning of Certainty in Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Library of Babel”

In Jorge Luis Borges’ provocative short story “The Library of Babel,” the author crafts a metaphorical universe that embodied many of the philosophical uncertainties that would come to define postmodern thought. Published in 1941, the story acts as a harbinger of the postmodern literary movement through its imaginative exploration of themes like the instability of knowledge, the limits of language, and the dissolution of a sense of objective truth. Through the curious concept of an infinite library containing all possible combinations of letters, Borges subtly dismantles long-held rational assumptions and leaves the reader suspended in a sense of bewildering chaos, anticipating postmodernism’s radical confrontation with notions of meaning, history and the self.

In our modern world of the internet and social media, we also grapple with an overload of information and uncertainty about what is true or meaningful amidst a sea of competing perspectives, much like the infinite library of Babel. The tendency to find only information that confirms one’s existing biases mirrors the inability to locate definitive knowledge in Borges’ library metaphor.

Borges seems to have very much understood some contemporary to him developments in quantum physics such Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schrödinger’s Cat paradox that challenged objective knowledge of subatomic particles. (“OpenMind”)

The notion of a boundless library containing every book simultaneously challenges the modern assumption that increasing quantities of information lead to clarity and progress. As the narrator observes, “everything is accessible, if not everything is comprehensible” within the library’s staggering volumes (Borges). This paradox of information overload perfectly captures a core tension of postmodern thought – how can meaning be derived amid ever-proliferating data without shared agreed-upon foundations of knowledge? The library also parallels the disorienting yet liberating phenomenon of the post-WWII information revolution, suggesting Borges presciently saw technology enabling unprecedented access while undermining authority of any single perspective or ‘grand narrative.’

Borges writes, “That unbridled hopefulness was succeeded, naturally enough, by a similarly disproportionate depression. The certainty that some bookshelf in some hexagon contained precious books, yet that those precious books were forever out of reach, was almost unbearable” (Borges 117). This quote reflects the idea that an infinite number of books containing all knowledge creates more uncertainty, as finding any specific knowledge becomes virtually impossible.

The instability of knowledge and information overload symbolized by the Library of Babel has become an increasingly pressing issue in today’s digital age. The internet provides access to exponential quantities of information, yet search algorithms, social media echo chambers and cognitive biases make discerning truth from this flood of data more challenging than ever. Our contemporary ‘infosphere’ was clearly anticipated by Borges’ unsettling metaphor.

The idea of information implying uncertainty parallels revelations about the wave-particle duality of matter by quantum pioneers like Niels Bohr. (“OpenMind”)

As a complement and contrast, Borges’ story, with its infinite library containing all possible combinations of letters, also bears a striking resemblance to concepts that Claude Shannon was developing around the same time regarding communication and information theory. In his 1948 paper that laid the foundations of digital communication, Shannon introduced key ideas like bit rate and channel capacity that quantify how much information can theoretically be transmitted. (Shannon)

This resonates with Borges’ overwhelming, almost meaningless glut of information within the library’s volumes. However, while Borges suggests that infinite information leads to instability and uncertainty, Shannon saw communication systems much more optimistically, focusing on how redundancy and error correction could make them reliable. The information stabilization offered by Shannon’s monumentally significant work and borne out in reality that we are in today while also offering the potentially negative individual and social consequences foreshadowed by Borges in the vast uncertainties of the Library is an important complement and contrast to note.

Additionally, the library’s temporal uncertainty prefigures postmodern critiques of history. If each book contains every possible combination of letters, then past, present and future fold in upon one another ceaselessly within each volume. This echoes later theorists like Foucault who challenged standard conceptions of history as linear progress, revealing the complexity through which eras interconnect.

As Borges write, “All-the detailed history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the faithful catalog of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogs, the proof of the falsity of those false catalogs, a proof of the falsity of the true catalog” (Borges 115). This passage implies that books in the library contain all combinations of letters across time, dissolving a linear conception.

In contrast to the timeless and nonlinear nature of Borges’ library, the modern world still largely operates under a paradigm of linear progress – the assumption that the passage of time equates to advancement. Yet current anxieties about societal decline hint that this notion of history as continual betterment may be breaking down, approaching the temporal chaos symbolized in the infinite library.

Einstein’s theory of relativity with its spacetime continuum bears remarkable similarities to the nonlinear temporality within the library’s volumes, almost erasing divisions between past, present and future. (“OpenMind”)

Most profoundly, the narrator’s failure to find his own reflection within the infinite library mirrors postmodern arguments that identity proves an ever-shifting social construct rather than stable essence – a dissolution Borges implants through fantastical means that predate such philosophical positions, as arguably Borges was more a product of modernism and is embryonic to post-modernism rather than a partaker.

As Borges writes in the text, “Methodical composition distracts me from the present condition of humanity” (Borges 118), implying he has embraced questioning over definitive answers through the metaphorical device of the library. In the text, Borges suggests that the act of writing in a methodical or systematic way distracts him from contemplating the current state of humanity. Instead, he finds solace and insight in the metaphor of the library, a vast and seemingly endless repository of knowledge and ideas. Through this metaphor, Borges implies that he values the process of questioning and exploration over the pursuit of definitive answers, as the library represents the infinite possibilities of human thought and imagination. In a sense, he has a foot in two worlds.

While Borges wrote of the dissolution of identity decades before postmodern theorists, questions about the self as fragmented and socially constructed have become widely debated in the internet age. The ability to craft multiple online personas or avatars suggests fluidity to identity that mirrors the instability suggested in the story. Yet there remains a strong human desire for a unified, knowable self that the library denies.

Borges’ concept of identity dissolving amid infinite reflections presaged developments in psychology like Erik Erikson’s 20th century theories about the social construction of identity and its development across the lifespan. Borges’ concept of identity dissolving amid infinite reflections can be seen as a metaphor for the complex and multifaceted nature of identity. Just as Borges’ story explores the idea of an infinite library with endless reflections, Erikson’s theory acknowledges that identity is not a fixed and static entity, but rather a fluid and evolving construct that is shaped by social interactions and experiences. (Cherry)

Through “The Library of Babel,” Borges crafted a surreal yet profoundly insightful metaphor that embodied postmodern arguments only hinted at in his era. His story dismantles modern certainty using imaginative devices that leave the reader suspended in intriguing perplexity, rather than receiving answers – anticipating postmodernism’s embrace of questions over solutions. Borges’ seminal work stands as an early harbinger of the philosophical shifts that would fundamentally reshape Western thought and literature in the second half of the 20th century.

Borges, Jorge Luis and Andrew Hurley. Collected Fictions. New York, Viking, 1998.

“OpenMind.” OpenMind, 2018, Accessed 15 Feb. 2024.

Shannon, Claude E. “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.” The Bell System Technical Journal, vol. 27, no. 3, 1948, pp. 379–423.

Cherry, Kendra. “How People Develop an Identity or Cope with Role Confusion.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 4 Dec. 2023,‌

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