In his excerpt of Tlon, Borges speaks about the discovery of a nation called Uqbar and exhibits much interest in it. He attempts to conduct research on it, however, fails miserably and can only find a single encyclopedia that mentions it existence. Some years later, Borges comes across an encyclopedia called the first encyclopedia of Tlon. He becomes fascinated with Tlon and concludes that it was nothing more than a concoction of intellectuals who simply made up this planet and decided to write about it.
Ironically, as the years pass, Borges comes across more and more information regarding Tlon and soon discovers that the rest of the world is being informed of the planet and its operations. Schools are teaching the language, history, and ways of Tlon, and yet, no one even has proof of its existence. What lays most perplexing is that people becomes so engulfed in this fictional planet that they forget the reality in which they live and begin to adopt the ways of Tlon, and in a sense our world-as Borges fears-is in danger of becoming Tlon.
As a result of this awakening, Borges retreats within himself because this new world is unintelligible and believes that every reality is an absolute truth. No sciences are allowed on Tlon, not even reasoning for in order to reason one must be able to connect one event to the next, and that sort of linking is not allowed on Tlon-only independent acts occur-one never causing the next. Ironically, metaphysicians are not even in search of truth on Tlon, but merely search for events that awe and amaze them-and do not seek for the purpose and meaning behind such astounding events.
Clarke would offer little surprise that Borges retreats within himself because if being were unintelligible, then life would have no purpose. Clarke emphasizes that the unrestricted drive to know is what gives rise to metaphysics and that if the world was unintelligible that every person would be doomed to horrid frustration. Further, if the world were unintelligible, then our scope of knowledge would be reduced to nothing but the observation of what is in front of us.
For instance, if a cow were to leave a cow pie on the edge of a green pasture(and lets say that only cows can leave a mark like this and that one cow-their cow-remained on earth) and then waltz over to the barn and the next day the farmer asked his wife to help him discover where the pie at the edge of the pasture came from, because it was not immediately observed that the cow had left the pie-and looking beyond the situation would imply the intelligibility of being-it would just remain a mystery that their cow had left a pie.
Thus, any attempt at problem solving would presuppose the acceptance of intelligibility of being. Clarke further notes that one cannot simply survive in denial of the intelligibility of being and that our entire existence depends on our right to solve problems and expand our mind and make connections, rather than base ourselves on empirical observations. He also offers that nature is willing to cooperate to aid in our understanding of being as a race; although it might not be easy, nature is willing to participate.
Clarke emphasizes that if we chose to deny our words and thoughts and presuppose the validity of the problems we attempt to solve, then we will be living in a “live” contradiction. This is the frustration that Clarke establishes and that made Borges retreat within himself with little hope for the word. We, as humans, were born with the unrestricted drive to know, and bottom line, if the world was unintelligible, our mind would be no better than a mind trapped in a box with a tiny hole only seeing the immediate unable to place association with its occurrence.