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Fink, K. (1994). Symmetry: Matte-Blanco's Theory and Borges's Fiction. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:1273-1273.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:1273-1273

Symmetry: Matte-Blanco's Theory and Borges's Fiction

Klaus Fink

Dear David,

Reading Dr Priel's excellent paper of the above title (Int. J. Psychoanal., 75: 815-23), I felt I could not pass up the opportunity to highlight her analysis of the story of Irineo Funes, 'Funes the Memorious' (pp. 821-22).

Despite having worked with Matte-Blanco's theories for many years and having published several papers on the subject, I have never been able to find a clinical example to illustrate my postulation that in a situation of pure asymmetry thought would come to a standstill, as it does in a situation of pure symmetry. Cases of pure symmetry, states of coma, absolute dementia and decerebration can be seen as states of total symmetry. But cases of absolute asymmetry, where thought comes to a standstill because objects are seen in all their differences and classified only in groups or sets containing that one single object, seemed not to exist. That is until now, when Dr Priel presents us the creation of Borges, the fictional but realistic patient called Irineo Funes.

I seems remarkable that Borges, who probably never read Matte-Blanco, could create characters who follow so closely the principles on which Matte-Blanco formulates the functioning of the unconscious. Matte-Blanco probably read Borges, but who knows if he read the story of 'Irineo the Memorious'? Borges and Matte-Blanco (who is still alive) were contemporaries living in neighbouring countries and sharing the same language and culture. What seems important is the fact that what in Spanish is called 'literatura fantástica' (fantastic literature) appeared in Latin America and is represented mainly by Borges, Vargas-Llosa, Garcia-Márquez and Isabel Allende.

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