The Aleph

Borgean fantastic hyperreality revisited by GPT-3

The Sandbook
4 min readJul 29, 2020

In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and awful; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and yours; and yours; and all the unmentionable acts they did and that will be done in Paris in the year 2000; I saw a lake on whose far shore a bird stood, motionless, at the very moment a man was being killed in Goa; I saw the fall of the invisible rain; I saw all the recent past and the near future; I saw how all space was slowly becoming a lake; I saw the foundations of the world; I saw that the century was now well on its way; I saw how every man had two faces; I saw a priest buy a revolver; I saw a woman carry her husband’s corpse down a stairway; I saw how the present and the future were linked by an infinite series of resurrections and destructions; I saw two watchmakers quarreling over the speed of light; I saw the Aleph from the inside; I saw a man laughing on his deathbed; I saw three sailors eating a dead horse; I saw water turn into stone; I saw a house in Corrientes sell a bright-blue, patterned Indian carpet that it had never possessed; I saw how every book refers to every other book and to the non-existent book that in turn will refer to it; I saw my father’s semen turn into transparent mites that died; I saw how I was not I; I saw myself asleep in the water; I saw that the world is cruel and sensible and incomprehensible; I saw you reading these lines and thought of looking at you from every side and then decided not to. I saw my destiny before it was my destiny; I saw ten thousand years of warfare and an infinity of silent villages; I saw how you and I would die and be born, be born and die; I saw the eagle on the rock and the dagger in the heart; I saw the tigers beneath my skin; I saw that this is not the only Aleph and that there are more than three hundred thousand million stars; I saw that the world had no limits and that the past had nothing to do with the future; I saw that all the lines in the world converge and that the center of the universe is everywhere; I saw the Aleph from the back; I saw the transparent eye of the world; I saw my face reflected in it; I saw your face, your long hair, your hand resting on the desk, and then I saw nothing; I saw the face of my son asleep in the other room; I saw the light; I saw the light that no one has ever seen; I saw that the world has many more marvels than those I have known; I saw your feet on the floor; I saw your face reflected in the mirror and then I closed my eyes and saw nothing.

* * * * *

— You said you saw the Aleph? I asked in a low voice.

— That’s right, said Sheer. It was the center of everything. The place where all times, all spaces, are somehow concentrated and from which they emanate. I can’t explain it any better than that.

— I thought it was a myth.

Well, sometimes there’s truth in myths.

She said this without taking her eyes off a man reading a newspaper over the other side of the river.

— What do you mean? I asked, lowering my voice.

— Things can seem like myths because they are hidden. But there is a possibility that there are portals that reveal these hidden things. I was looking through one of those portals. I don’t know if it’s really the Aleph that I saw. It may have just been the shining of the lake.

— How long did it last?

She took a breath and a mouthful of air before she answered:

— A moment.



The Sandbook

Texts written with the help of a human (by the language model GPT-3)