The Paradoxes of Zeno (Aldershot, Brookfield, Singapore, Sidney: Avebury 1996).
Faris, The Paradoxes of Zeno (Aldershot, Brookfield, Singapore, Sidney: Avebury 1996), 37.
Borges's father was a chess player; he taught his son the game; and, as Borges tells us in "An Autobiographical Essay," he used the chessboard to begin his son's philosophical education: "When I was still quite young, he showed me, with the aid of a chessboard, the paradoxes of Zeno - Achilles and the tortoise, the unmoving flight of the arrow, the impossibility of motion.
To the extent that the paradoxes of Zeno reveal "the impossibility of motion," they are in effect tropes of helplessness, of impotence.
Instead, "by an act of magic" (the paradoxes of Zeno which reveal the magical, that is, illusory, nature of action), he erases one of his son's pieces; he makes it vanish like the dream it is.
All of which brings us back to the image of Borges's father teaching him the paradoxes of Zeno and idealist philosophy at the chessboard and to the question of what it was that Borges learned from that teaching.
But this mention of the paradoxes of Zeno also suggests the autobiographical link between the imaginary world of Tlon and the detail of Herbert Ashe's chess games with Borges's father.