Jorge Borges Short Stories
God’s Omnipotence in “El Milagro Secreto”
The existence and power of God have been controversial and ambiguous topics for a long time. Does God exist? Can God intervene in the real world? In a modern world filled with technology, material things, and tragic events, it is sometimes easy to doubt the existence of God. But in his short story, El Milagro Secreto, author Jorge Luis Borges examines the omnipotence of God and the things that God can do for God’s loyal followers.
To develop his theme of the importance of the power of God, Borges uses literary references. In this story, he refers to religious texts, such as the Koran, and religious authors and philosophers. Borges begins his story with the quote:
And God made him die for a hundred years and then encouraged him and said:-How long have you been here?”One day or part of a day,” he replied. “(Qur’an, II, 261)
First, it is important to recognize that this quote is from a religious and sacred text. It lets the reader begin reading the story by thinking about the idea of God and having the concept of God in his or her mind. It is also very interesting to consider the meaning of the quote, not just where it comes from. This story talks about the relativity and flexibility of time in the hands of God. In this quotation from the Qur’an, it shows the power of God when God causes a person to die for a hundred years, and to revive him at any time God wants. Borges chose this quote intentionally and it serves as an important role in planting ideas of the omnipotence of God in the minds of the reader. Borges uses other literary and philosophical references to continue developing his subject. For example, he refers to Jakob Boehme (18), a religious mystic, the Sepher Yezirah (19), which is the book of creation in Judaism, and the Jewish poet and philosopher, Abraham Ibn Ezra (21), to name some examples. The meaning of these references are not obvious, but when you discover what and who these references are, the importance appears. The protagonist of the story, Jaromir Hladík, reads much of these authors and religious texts, so the reader can not help but think about the existence and importance of God at least in the context of Hladík’s life. In general, references to religious philosophical texts are subtle but nevertheless important, and make the reader think of God and his importance.
Another typical style of Borges is the use of suspense to show and not simply write about the power of God. Many times, real life is very ordinary and predictable. It is not often that a person witnesses divine intervention or God’s help. For this reason, Borges uses suspense to create contrast between the real world and the supernatural world, and to emphasize the power of God. For example, when Hladík is in the library looking for God, Borges writes: “A black-eyed librarian … said to him: … My parents and the fathers of my fathers have searched for that letter [with God]; I have been blind looking for it. He took off his glasses and Hladík saw the eyes, which were dead “(23). Borges could write only about his finding of God, and not about the process and journey of Hladík looking for God. But, creating the character of the librarian with strange features and fear creates suspense and makes it much more satisfying when Hladík finds God. The use of suspense in such a rare and strange situation shows that God is unpredictable and powerful. Also, there is a lot of suspense at the moment just before Hladík’s death: “A heavy raindrop grazed one of Hladík’s temples and rolled slowly down his cheek; the sergeant shouted the final order. The physical universe stopped “(24). The tension rising before the shot causes the reader to think about whether God will intervene or not, and when God does intervene, it is more impressive. This quote and the use of suspense help to show that in the end, God has all control to do what he wants. In general, the use of suspense compared to the normal life of Hladík places emphasis on the power of God, but also the importance of God, because He saves the life of Hladík.
The tale of the “El Milagro Secreto” is a story that is very complex and difficult to understand. But it is clear that Borges tries to develop the theme of God’s power, using specific stylistic elements as references to erudite texts, and religious philosophers and suspense. These typical stylistic elements of Borges help their purpose of showing the omnipotence of God, and makes us think of the anciet question of the existence and the power of God. But, this story suggests that when you believe in something or someone loyally, magnificent things can happen.
Order, Memory, and Anxiety in Borges’ Fiction
The fundamental questions of how and why we read have an infinitude of answers, none of which entirely ‘do the job,’ simply because they bear too closely upon the automatic, (and therefore, to us, secret) processes of the mind; the act of reading is too closely related to the act of living in the world for us to comprehend definitively. There are few writers who understand and exploit this primal link more persistently than Jorge Luis Borges. One of the ways in which he forces us to examine the parallels between reading and existing (I use the word ‘force’ because it is not always a pleasant confrontation) is through the thematic use of memory.
I. Total Recall
“It is because I forget that I read.”
-Roland Barthes, S/Z
One of the most masterful treatments of the memory theme is in “Funes the Memorious”, the brilliantly, (and somewhat absurdly), touching story of a man who cannot live under the strain of his natural and inescapable ability to remember everything perfectly.
The story begins with the words “I recall”, and immediately we are plunged into the realm of memory-we understand that what we are about to read is a semblance of a reminiscence. Jon Stewart calls attention to the importance of the repetition of this verb in the opening paragraphs of the story: “The continual use of this verb clearly foreshadows the most important element of the character of Funes-his prodigious mnemonic powers: but there is more to it than this. Borges continually uses the same verb and with it brings together a number of scattered and seemingly chaotic memories that he has of Funes. The point of this repetition is to underscore his own impoverished memory of Funes.” (p.74) But Stewart neglects to take this point to its logical and important conclusion; the narrator’s ‘impoverished memory’ is not merely a foreshadowing of Funes’ infinitely rich one-it comes to be, in fact, the necessary circumstance, and the subject of the story.
Borges tells us that the story grew out of his own bouts of insomnia: “I remember that I used to lie down and try to forget everything, and that led me, inevitably, to remember everything. I imagined the books on the shelves, the clothes on the chair, and even my own body on the bed… and so, since I could not erase memory, I kept thinking of those things, and also thinking: if only I could forget, I would certainly be able to sleep.” (p.27) As many critics point out, it is not wise to take Borges’ word with regard to his own work as final, however, later on in this short interview, he voices what I see as the essential fact of the tale: “Funes, the country boy, could not have written [this] story.” (p.28)
In the context of Borges, this of course means several things, but one of its functions is to link, symbolically, life and narrative. Funes could not have written this story for the same reason that he could not go on living; “creation depends on omissions and omission means discontinuity.” (p.112) The ability to forget is prerequisite, not only to sleep and to life, but to storytelling. Thus we might read the narrator’s “I recall” as something like “Because I have forgotten so much, I am able tell you this…”.
Narrative is simply the arrangement of events into some kind of order; telling the story of one’s own life, or self-narration, is thus an organization of memory. But if the memory of every second of our existence clamored for a place of equal importance, we would be at a loss to tell our own stories. More than this, we would be unable to salvage meaning from the chaotic and arbitrarily juxtaposed scenes of our lives; it is the terrible dread and anxiety of this dilemma that makes Funes’ life impossible: “Our principal antidotes to universality and immortality are death and forgetting. Because they confirm our mortality and our individual identity, death and forgetting are what make the universe bearable, real for us.” (p.53)
Enter the reader; as readers, our primary activity is trying to find meaning in the ordered arrangement of the events that, (supposedly), hang together to constitute “Funes the Memorious”. Michel Foucault, describing his reaction to a portion of “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” writes: “That passage from Borges kept me laughing a long time, though not without a certain uneasiness that I found hard to shake off.” (p.xvii) This ‘uneasiness’ is a common response to reading Borges-he is not a comforting writer. Foucault is referring to a passage in which Borges, ‘quoting’ “a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge”, reels off a fantastic and ridiculous list of animal categories. Foucault goes on to postulate that this readerly anxiety stems from our glimpse at “the disorder in which fragments of a large number of possible orders glitter separately in the dimension, without a law or geometry.” In presenting the reader with this chaotic, and therefore meaningless, conjunction of orders, Borges implicitly spotlights and calls into question our own modes of organization and synthesis.
The theme is different, (“The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” deals with encyclopedic knowledge and the dangerous absurdity of language), but we can trace the same uneasy reaction as Foucault does in our reading of “Funes the Memorious”. We jump into this story with all our readerly expectations on the alert, our ability to generate meaning at the ready, our guns half-cocked; at every turn, Borges works to rattle our complacency.
We understand that Funes cannot live because he cannot forget. The uneasiness begins, however, when we understand that it is only because the narrator forgets that he can tell us his story. What exactly has he forgotten? If he had remembered more, or differently, how would the ‘meaning’ of the story changed? How do we forget anyway? Is forgetting a loss or a repression? How do we decide what we want to remember? These are the questions that stand between the reader and meaning. In trying to answer them though, we stumble upon that same disordered order that caused Foucault so much anxiety; we are, in a sense, forced upon the realization that our ability to derive meaning is wholly reliant on an arbitrary and involuntary process of elimination, and, depending on how far we wish to push the metaphor, perhaps even repression. A certain readerly sweat is understandable.
It must be said, though, that we do not go without a certain measure of compensation for our anxiety; as Foucault’s discomfort was accompanied by laughter, so there is no shortage of readerly pleasure in “Funes”. There is his name, with its faint suggestion of somebody wiping away a tear; and we cannot deny the pathos (nor Borges’ tenderness for his subject) in the description of Funes, restless, exhausted, wide awake, turning towards the part of town he doesn’t know, or “imagin[ing] himself at the bottom of a river, rocked (and negated) by the current,” (p.137) in order to get some rest from the incessant and senseless din of total memory.
II. Memory and Identity
At 84, Borges published another story that deals with the theme of memory-this time the treatment is slightly more serious, our unease a little less contained. In “Shakespeare’s Memory”, we see the ultimate ripening of Borges’ prose; those clipped sentences and pruned paragraphs, which once felt as if they sprung from a well of mastery and wit, now seem to be aimless, almost confused, as if etched out of a deep-seated and all-devouring longing.
The story follows Hermann SØrgel, a lifelong Shakespearian scholar, who is offered the inheritance of Shakespeare’s memory. The reader, along with SØrgel, must bear in mind what is being invoked. This is the four-hundred year old memory of a man many people consider to be the most brilliant in the world; the reader’s inclination is to consider it a treasure of inconceivable value. This is our first mistake, or at least, it might be.
Hermann’s immediate reaction to this strange offer is frustratingly blank: “It was as though I had been offered the ocean.” (p.510) This is brilliant syntactical composition; not only does it mean nothing, (how are we to think it would feel if we were offered the ocean?), it simultaneously invokes infinite fluidity, giving the reader some premonition of anxiety. Upon the verbal acceptance, “something happened; there is no doubt of that. But I did not feel it happen. Perhaps just a slight sense of fatigue, perhaps imaginary.” (p.511) This is strange for two reasons: first of all, it confounds any grandiose expectations we may have had regarding the magic of the transference; what is perhaps stranger, though, is the multiplication of bodies at play. There are several perspectives behind this paradoxical passage: an objective one, for whom “there is no doubt” that something happened; a subjective one, who did not feel it; and an imaginary self, the projection of “perhaps just a slight sense of fatigue”. This muddle of identities will continue throughout the story, confounding narrative fixity, and lending the story a profound restlessness.
Possession of Shakespeare’s memory is at first mundane; Hermann, who had thought that he would “in some way, be Shakespeare”, remembers only old English pronunciations, dreams of the Bard’s next door neighbor. He publishes an explication of a sonnet, having “forgotten that Samuel Butler had advanced that same thesis in 1899” (p.512); his visit to Stratford-on-Avon is, “predictably enough, sterile.”(SM, p.512) This banality is slightly comical. Perhaps, like Hermann, we thought that he would become Shakespeare; or perhaps the discrepancy between the wonder of the proposition and the distinctly quotidian nature of these results is so great we cannot help but chuckle, although not without some of Foucault’s uneasiness.
From here on in the reader enters strange, (or, more accurately, even stranger), territory. Hermann’s feelings about possessing “the other man’s” memory become harder to make out. On the one hand we are told: “For one curiously happy week, I almost believed myself Shakespeare. His work renewed itself for me.”(SM, p.513) Two paragraphs later we are told: “Shakespeare’s memory was able to reveal to me only the cicrumstances of the man Shakespeare. Clearly, these circumstances do not constitute the unique circumstances of the poet; what matters is the literature the poet produced with that frail material.”(SM, p.513, my italics) Oddly enough though, the most intriguing thing said about possessing Shakespeare’s memory is also the most completely ambiguous, the most absurdly offhand: “I knew states of happiness and darkness that transcend common human experience.”(SM, p.513) The barren words and bare composition of this sentence are genius; calling attention to the discrepency between the words and all they might imply, this one-sentence paragraph conveys a weary resignation to the hopeless inadequacy of language to represent experience. (It may also be interesting to note that Shakespeare managed to put “happiness and darkness that transcend common human experience” into words quite well; this leads us nowhere in particular).
Abruptly, any enchantment Hermann might have been under disappears, and possession of the memory now becomes sinister: “I noted with some nervousness that I was gradually forgetting the language of my parents. Since personal identity is based on memory, I feared for my sanity.”(SM, p.514) He wishes to reclaim himself, and verbally bestows the memory upon a total stranger, over the phone. If we feel that there is something hidden underneath Hermann’s incoherent telling of the story, (he tells us himself, “I do not know how to tell a story,”) it is at this point that we are given what may be a clue.
After hanging up the receiver, he repeats the words “Simply the thing I am shall make me live.”(SM, p.515) Sylvia Molloy writes about Borges’ use of this same Shakespeare quote in his “History of the Echoes of a Name”: “Shakespeare’s untruthful French soldier in All’s Well That Ends succeeds perhaps… in obliquely naming himself and acheiving ephemeral being. Parolles continues to be and to speak through an imposture that he knows to be false, yet that imposture keeps him going: ‘Captain I shall be no more;/ But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft/ As captain shall: simply the thing I am shall make me live.’ From that tenuous substance, of whose deceptive nature he is well aware, Parolles… draws his self.” (p.129) Somewhere between the realization that “a man’s memory is not a summation; it is a chaos of vague possibilities”, and the understanding that “personal identity is based on memory”, Hermann glimpses that vortex of meaning conjured up by Foucault. In repeating Parolles’ words, he resigns himself to continuing to live “through an imposture he knows to be false”, but that will “keep him going”.
There are also echoes here of Borges’ achingly beautiful piece on Shakespeare, “Everything and Nothing” , which starts out by saying, “there was no one inside him”, and goes on to tell how he “trained himself to the habit of feigning that he was somebody, so that his ‘nobodiness’ might not be discovered,” and, “became an actor, that person who stands upon a stage and plays at being another person.” Borges finally says, paradoxically, “No one was as many men as that man.” In inheriting the memory of someone who simultaneously had ‘no one inside him’ and everyone inside him, in glimpsing a space where these two things mean the same, Hermann himself is annihilated.
The final thing to note about this story is that this annihilation is permanent. Whereas Molloy reads a kind of ironic glee into Parolles’ words, these same words in the mouth of Hermann echo more like the quiet hysteria of devastation, the desparate attempt to pull himself back together; in the psychic panic induced by the vision of his own nothingness, Hermann fails to understand that this is impossible. Throughout the telling of the story, he lapses twice into ‘the language of his parents’, the forgetting of which had caused him to fear for his sanity, and the use of which now suggests that he is assuring himself of his identity. And there is the fact that he has “forgotten the date on which [he] decided to free [himself]”; in a story so thoroughly about memory, we cannot help but think this is odd, that it is somehow crying out for a Freudian interpretation, even though we understand that, in the realm of Shakespeare’s Memory, Freud is little more than an absurdity. Finally, it is the tone of the story, with its unsettling hints of elegiac disembodiment, that signals Hermann’s failure to fully recover from his experience; it is this same tone that conveys to the reader, in its intricate meaninglessness, a horror quite similar to that of Hermann’s.
III. The ‘False Imposture’
It is impossible to attempt a study of Borges without feeling an initial moment’s shame at the undertaking; after all, ‘understanding’ is imposing order on chaos to produce meaning, and in dealing with Borges, we are dealing with a literary anarchist whose one burning subject was the absurdity, (and fragility) of order. And yet, as readers in crisis, (confronted with a text we don’t know how to read), we must look to the author himself, and read as he wrote; Molloy notes that Borges, much like Parolles, writes out of “an imposture that he knows to be false, yet that…keeps him going.” Writing about memory in the way he did was one more way of undermining our methods of reading-in so doing, he forces us to question the way we construe ourselves and our world.
The Gospel According to Mark: An Exploration of the Darker Domains of the Primitive Mind
The Gospel according to Mark written by Jorge Borges is a brilliant short story that captures the attention of the reader through the craft of tight narration leading to a shocking climatic action. The suddenness of the climax stuns the reader for some time, but when he or she turns to pick up the clues strewn all over the plot, feels compelled to appreciate the primitive world created by the author through the use of few connected, seemingly ordinary events; a world in which the unexpected slaughter of Balthasar Espinosa, a very likable young man, seems perfectly explainable. At the end, the author is capable of delighting the reader by throwing light to the mysterious hidden realms of the primitive psyche.
Let us jump into the most important question that the story creates in the mind of the reader. What provokes the Gutre family to sacrifice Balthasar at the end of the story? The intentions of the Gutres are not very clear, as they are not much expressive. The mystery surrounding the archaic world in the ranch is amplified by the fact that there is very little communication happening between the Gutres and Balthasar. But when the Gutres speak, they end up giving vital clues that will help the reader decode their thought process behind the final gruesome act. The reader realizes that the seemingly innocent question regarding the salvation of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus is a very loaded one. Not only the conversation but also the behavior exhibited by the family indicates that they operate from a very archaic worldview. Their sudden interest in the Gospel, their response to the treatment provided by Balthasar to their sheep, their silent following of Balthasar everywhere – all these point to the arousal of a mythical and quasi-religious mindset.
The world surrounding them, too, seems archaic and adds to the spontaneity of the horror and superstition contained in the plot. The mysterious possibilities of a farm separated from the outside world by rain and flood effectively pave way for something as gruesome as this. Some of those symbols of persistent storm and flood remind us of Noah’s ark in the Bible. The Gutre’s inability to communicate takes us back to the old Biblical myth of the tower of Babel. Journey to La Colarada appears like travelling back to the primitive world. The vulnerability of a charmingly careless and lazy Balthazar is complete with the total lack of modernism in the ranch.
Another element that adds to the primitive nature of the world in the ranch and thereby the suitability of an intense ritual like human sacrifice is the obvious parallelism between Jesus and Balthasar. He is 33, the age at which Jesus was killed. The medical student with a beard preaching to a group of intense listeners remind us immediately of Jesus the healer and teacher. His unlimited compassion is another obvious parallel. The event of the healing of the sheep nailed the final bit that helped the Gutres decide conclusively that Balthasar is another Christ. So they crucified him to take things to the most logical conclusion that a primitive mindset can arrive at and thereby to achieve their own salvation.
What’s the significance of the sexual encounter between Balthasar and the Gutre girl? The girl who voluntarily entered Balthasar’s room for sexual union, at no stage, exhibit any expression of romantic affection or sexual attraction. What she does in the bed too seems like a ritual. It resonates with the tradition of fattening the calf that has to be given in sacrifice. In the similar vein, it may be understood as part of the extraordinary care and respect meted out to Balthasar by the Gutres until crucifying him. So, though, it is extraneous to the biblical narrative, the episode rhymes well with the overall worldview exhibited by the Gutres.
The narrative elements mentioned above helps the author to create a world where strong undercurrents of notion of salvation through sacrifice seem totally plausible. The horror unleashed by the sharing of the Gospel message, merely intended to kill time, is a chilling reminder of the role being played by the eternal religious myths in the minds of people especially those who are not much exposed to a modern way of living. It reminds us of the unexplored territories of the human psyche that still continue to determine and shape our personal as well as social living. By placing an eternal religious myth over a real-life situation, the author invites us to see how limited is our knowledge regarding the hidden depths of our own minds.
A Comparison and Contrast Study: Poe’s and Borges’ Labyrinths
A labyrinth, on the surface, can be described as “a place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys” (Merriam-Webster), but it can also be characterized as “something extremely complex or tortuous” (Merriam-Webster). Both Poe and Borges intertwine labyrinths into their works, for example, Poe focuses on the more nonphysical representation of a labyrinth whereas Borges chooses to represent the labyrinth as a physical maze. The reader must pay close attention to the architectures of both variations – a detail that reveals how each labyrinth is different or similar. Labyrinths take on different interpretations and forms based on those who spawn them, but it is apparent similarities in the structure and entrapment of those within.
The major differences between the two authors’ short stories is evident in how the labyrinths were presented. For example, Poe’s labyrinth is present throughout the short story, while Borges’ labyrinth only appears at the end of Lonnröt’s investigation. Poe’s interpretation in “The Purloined Letter” involves a labyrinth based on ignorance keeping the trapped from progressing, alternatively Borges’ interpretation in “Death and the Compass” ostensibly consists of a labyrinth that depicts being one step behind. To compare both authors’ labyrinths it is important to firstly identify the differences that make them unique. In Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” the labyrinth is present as an entrapment that must be overcome by M. Dupin. The Prefect and Dupin are initially stuck in the search for the missing letter because of his ignorance of Minister D_______’s methods. According to the text this causes much embarrassment for the Prefect because he searches places where the letter could be hidden and doesn’t account for things in plain sight. The labyrinth can represent a maze or rhizome that traps its characters because they are unaware of the right path to take, causing numerous trials which result in dead ends and endless paths. Poe’s labyrinth represents being “…trapped by microscopes and measurements, fixites, and definites” (Pops 94), almost like the random twist and turns of a maze. However, it only traps those who are uneducated of the complexities that it possesses and those who are educated, Dupin, can escape it. Unbeknownst to him, the Prefect leads himself down an elongated maze by searching through every nook and cranny and even “…the jointings of every description of furniture” (Poe 212), reflecting the paths in a maze constructed with no outlets. Understanding the labyrinth of ignorance and the unknown is evident in how one would escape, according to Dupin he had to have “…an identification of the reasoner’s intellect with that of his opponent” (Poe 215). Dupin, in order to solve the case, had to not think like a detective searching for clues instead he had to ‘reason’ with the thief. The Prefect’s shortcomings were present in his lack of the necessary characteristics to find the letter such as the ability to be creative. Alternatively, Dupin through his imagination was able to discover the letter as not being hidden and that it was among a rack of hanging pasteboards.
In Borges’ “Death and the Compass,” the labyrinth depiction takes on the physical representation by trapping Lonnröt along a straight causing him to be one step behind Red Scharlach at all times. Unlike Dupin in Poe’s work, Lonnröt doesn’t learn that he is being trapped until it is already too late. Throughout the short story he examined the relationship of the points at which the murders occurred, firstly discovering that the points were “…in fact equidistant” and “…symmetrical in time” (Borges 82). Moreover, the labyrinth was designed to be like the straight line from the Greek culture; Scharlach assumed a detective would be lost along the line just as many have in the past. Furthermore, the simplicity of the labyrinth leads to the idea that Lonnröt lacks the intelligence that Scharlach possesses, which causing him to always fall behind. Similar to the previous pathways I feel like it should be noted that the labyrinth is warranted to be participated in.
Although “The Purloined Letter” and “Death and the Compass” are two separate short stories by two different authors, both have likenesses and differences in the labyrinths that each possess. Both labyrinths puzzle the main protagonist initially whether it be due to misunderstandings or because of a misinterpretation of key elements. For example, in “The Purloined Letter” the Prefect misunderstood how to go about finding the lost letter which left him bewildered about its whereabouts since the Minister had “…his person searched rigidly under…” the Prefect’s “…inspection” (Poe 211). In addition, in “Death and the Compass” Lonnröt is caught up trying to discover how all the murders are connected and ultimately thinking he was “…on point of solving the mystery” (Borges 83), but he fails to realize that the fourth and final murder is himself; “…Erik Lonnröt” (Borges 84). Again, both short stories reflect the entrapment inside labyrinths one depicting a physical, ever looping, imprisonment and the other a mind prison. However, where the two stories differ is how the characters come about escaping the said labyrinths. It is important for the reader to notice that in “Death and the Compass” that Lonnröt’s rival, Red Scharlach, is the constructor of the labyrinth thus making escape implausible. Whereas, the escape from the whirlwind of “…microscopes and measurements…” (Pops 94) in “The Purloined Letter” is feasible with reasoning.
Overall, it may be said that Poe and Borges’ interpretations of labyrinths may be completely different. However, similarities are present in the introduction of them into the short stories. Furthermore, the characters are completely opposites in the way they approach escaping their respective labyrinths. A labyrinth of the mind is not similar to a physical labyrinth, the characters experience different circumstances which makes one easier than the other to escape. In addition, Poe and Borges’ do an incredible job at tying their labyrinths into their specific stories; the labyrinths are not just randomly placed entities included into the text, they are specific as only the right labyrinth connects to the story at hand. Ostensibly, both authors have varying ideals in their construction. Poe relies on the psychological aspect of it as the characters trapped don’t see the limits or bearings of the maze leading to the unraveling of oneself. However, Borges chooses the physical aspects and he also plays with the idea that life exists beyond death causing an eternal loop.