I realised recently that very few of my blog posts were directly related to my blog title (originally “Local Voices, researching local cultural heritage in the digital world”) so I’m changing it.
I take my new blog name directly from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths. If you haven’t already read The Garden of Forking Paths, what follows is not a plot spoiler but it may colour your first reading of the text. (I enjoyed reading this story so much I don’t want to ruin the pleasure anyone else might get from it.)
The garden of the title in the story was the work of a Chinese governor who retired from public life to write a great novel and build a maze. When he died no one could find his maze and his novel was incomprehensible. Many hundreds of years later a researcher stumbles upon a phrase from a fragment of a letter:
“I leave to the various futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths.” (Borges 2000, 50.)
This provides the key to unravelling the rambling novel and the lost maze: the novel is the labyrinth, with the paths of the text forking through time (not space). This struck me as an appropriate metaphor for my work – I am still researching local cultural heritage and digital humanities but I am also exploring theoretical frameworks. This requires lots of reading and thinking and writing (and not always necessarily in that order) with much writing-to-think done on this blog. This has resulted in many rambling paths (and posts), some coming to abrupt dead ends and some still in development. The goal is to find my way out of the maze by October 2017.
The Garden of Forking Paths is published in: Borges, J. L. (2000). Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (New Ed edition). London: Penguin Classics.