Fractal stories (was: Re: the hazards of essentialist glossolalia)

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Tue Dec 18 2001 - 02:36:29 MST


('Maps' but now in the sense of fractal-like representations)

I'm wondering if you know about Julio Cortazar. He's another South
American writer. I find his short stories very spooky, and very

One of Cortazar's stories remind me of the 'carpet description' you
gave, it's like a 'fractal story', just like this is like a 'fractal

"In Eudossia, that extends up and low, with meandering alleys,
steps, narrow lanes, hovels, a carpet is kept in which you can
contemplate the real shape of the city. At first nothing seems to
resemble less Eudossia than the design of the carpet, ordered in
symmetrical figures that repeat their patterns along straight and
circular lines, woven of needleful of dazzling colors, which
alternating wefts you can follow all along the warp. But if you stop
to observe it with attention, you perceive that to every place of
the carpet corresponds a place of the city and that all the things
contained in the city are comprised in the design, arranged
according to their true relationships, which escape to your eye
distracted from the coming and going from the swarming from the
awful crush. All the confusion in Eudossia, the bray of the mules,
the spots of lamp-black, the smell of fish, is what appear in the
partial perspective that you pick; but the carpet proves that there
is a point from which the city shows its true proportions, the
geometric outline implicit in its every minimal detail."

In Cortazar's short story (two pages): "Continuity of Parks", the
reader reads a detailed description of a man sitting in a chair
reading a book. The reader learns the details of the room: the color
and fabric of the chair in which the man is sitting: a green velvet
chair, the direction it is facing: away from the window, for
example. Then the reader learns about the book that the man is
reading, and so we read the book as the man reads the book.

The book (that the man is reading) tells a story of a man and woman
in a small house in the mountains plotting the murder of another
man. The two lovers meet, tell each other the details of the murder
that they about to perform, the alibis that that they will tell,
then they part ways, and we follow the murderer as he makes his way
to the home of the person whom he will murder. We follow the
murderer to the home, to the second story of the home, then to the
room where he raises his knife to the back of the head to a man
sitting in green velvet chair facing away from the window reading a
book ....

(Cortazar's stories always give me goosebumps)


Amara Graps, PhD email:
Computational Physics vita:
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Take time to consider. The smallest point may be the most essential."
Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Red Circle)

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