Bodying Forth the Impossible: Metamorphosis, Mortality and Aesthetics in the
continued . . .
"The Garden of Forking Paths" presents the possibility of new form of fiction and an alternative concept of time; Ts'ui PÍn's novel is the novel that Borges imagines but will never writea conception that is itself an "imminence of a revelation that does not take place" (A Personal Anthology 92).  Albert continues his explanation:
Yu Tsun reads two versions of an event in Ts'ui PÍn's novel. In each version, more or less the same event takes placea battlebut the events preceding it differ. As in "Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote," a text is rewritten. In Ts'ui PÍn's novel, the same event in time is retold; the event happens along two different temporal lines, and although the details change, the outcome remains the same. In Pierre Menard's experiment, the text itself is "rewritten," although it remains exactly the same; it is the time in which it is writtenand therefore the way that it is read and interpretedthat changes.
Albert subtly insinuates or projects Ts'ui PÍn's fictional experiment onto the context in which he and Yu Tsun find themselveswithin an historical moment that they both participate in and observe from a distance. This transition, although not an obvious instance of the mise-en-abÓme, is like the very movement he describes Scheherazade making in The Thousand and One Nights, when the tale she is telling suddenly begins to tell itself. Albert's description of Ts'ui PÍn's novel, in other words, suddenly becomes a description of his present confrontation with Yu Tsun; his explication of Ts'ui PÍn's novel becomes an allusion to the same diegetic space which he and Yu Tsun occupy, as if they themselves were characters in Ts'ui PÍn's garden:
The final words in this citation allude to the manner in which within Borges' own story "the pathways of this labyrinth converge," because within the story, different levels of narrative merge into one.
In keeping with the theme of repetition, Albert will repeat nearly the same exact words again toward the end of Borges's story; somehow they seem to carry more weight the second time around:††
Ts'ui PÍn's labyrinthine novel, until this moment merely a conversation-piece, suddenly envelopes its readersAlbert and Yu Tsun. Ts'ui PÍn's novel envelopes the narrative that contains it. Yu Tsun, who began by framing, ends up being framed. He suddenly finds himself implicated in his ancestor's novel, just like the reader in "The Aleph" or Borges himself at those moments of confusion and disquietude described in "Partial Enchantments of the Quixote." A disruption occurs, upsetting the boundaries between inside and outside, fiction and reality, past and present. Although the fictional situations are properly speaking fictional, the emotional effect that they create, or intend to create, has to do not only with fiction, but with reality, history and identity.
Once one boundary has been transgressed, others inevitably follow. Yu Tsun becomes alienated not only from his present situation, which seems unreal to him, but from his own identity. Suddenly there are many Yu Tsuns, all existing in parallel worlds. This situation hyperbolizes the very character of language that alienates Albert from his name and allows Yu Tsun to signify a place by murdering Albert: while Albert's name is clearly not unique to Albert, Ts'ui PÍn's novel suggests that Yu Tsun's very identity is not unique to himand this gives him a strange sensation, "something invisible and intangible pullulating . . . not the pullulation of two divergent, parallel, and finally converging armies, but an agitation more inaccessible, more intimate, prefigured by them in some way" (99):
Yu Tsun's sense of "pullulation" is not only the sense of being surrounded by a swarm of "invisible people," but a sense as well of his own unreality, of the unreality of the situation he is confronting as Madden approaches and Albert's murder becomes imperative. The multiplicity of temporalities seems to lessen Yu Tsun's sense of his own reality, as if doubling and proliferation somehow diminish reality.
The deed done, the rest is "unreal and unimportant" (148). This sense of unreality is like that described by Borges in "Partial Enchantments of the Quixote." Having learned of his ancestor's novel, Yu Tsun now feels that he is a part of it, that he is living out a fiction rather than a realityliving in death.  Perhaps Albert's was a death foretold; he seems to have had some inkling of Yu Tsun's motives; perhaps he had already read this version of his fate in Ts'ui PÍn's novel, as Aureliano BuendŪa reads his own destiny in MelquŪades's parchments in One Hundred Years of Solitude. By insinuating that they themselves act out Ts'ui PÍn's novel, that their destinies were already written, Albert makes Yu Tsun's crime a great deal easier to commit; Yu Tsun cannot be morally responsible for a murder foretold.
†Ts'ui PÍn's novel challenges not only fictional conventions, but also ideas about time itself. According to Albert, Ts'ui PÍn's own preoccupation was with metaphysics more than with the novelistic form, which within his culture was considered "an inferior genre" (99). His work challenges the conventional view of literature as linear and sequential; his text instead takes the form of chaotic labyrinth. However, it is Borges's narrative that provides the solution. Ts'ui PÍn's work is chaotic and unreadablea truly infinite work is an impossibility. Borges finds a way of re-creating these ideas in short, possible, emblematic form. †††††††††††
Similarly, Borges uses the reflexive structure of the mise-en-abÓme to render the reader visible within the text. The text reproduces and transforms not only itself, but its reader within itself. The disturbance of boundaries and the undermining of the reader's ontological status ultimately serve as a reminders of mortality and explain why these stories tend to take death, or murder, as their point of departure.  Mortality and the mirroring structure of the mise-en-abÓme remind the reader of his or her embodiment by referring to and addressing the reader within the text. By invoking the embodiment of the reader, the text calls into question the construct of subjectivity that allows the reader to feel that he or she has transcended embodiment.
Holding up a mirror to the reader, as well as to narrative and time, Borges uses the mise-en-abÓme not only to concretize abstract ideas in visible form, but also to imply the inclusion of the reader within the text and to bring into relief the reader's own state of embodiment, thereby subverting the ontological boundaries defining real and fictional worlds.