The raven whom I call “Funes” has not always gone by this name. Countless ages ago, one of the Old Gods called forth from the Far Dreaming two ravens to do his bidding. Munin and his brother Hugin were their master’s eyes in the worlds (for he only had one eye of his own). The twin ravens perceived as one, but were two separate entities, Hugin interpreting and intuiting what they saw, Munin remembering both their perceptions and Hugin’s interpretations in their minutest detail. This unique pair of chimera presented a powerful tool to their caller, powerful enough in his own right. His name was Odin, and he was indeed the basis figure for the Norse god of the same name. Odin valued knowledge to the point of obsession; he may have known more than any other single entity about the worlds of Dream and Flesh and all their inhabitants, fae, human, and other. When the Tuatha De Danaan faded away after the war in the era of legends, Odin accepted the fate he knew would come and passed into the mists. He could not, however, give up the continuous acquisition of knowledge; his sluagh avatar lived on in Arcadia for millennia after his true form departed. Of course, Odin’s ravens served this avatar as faithfully as the Old God, and gathered knowledge from all places in his service.
Neither sluagh master nor chimerical servants knew until far too late, but after the Tuatha De Danaan departed, the avatar of Odin had been very gradually losing his powers of divination and memory. It was in fact not the absence of his true form that caused this, but the Sundering. As all other streams between the worlds, the flow of knowledge was gradually being strangled by the cold Banality of the Autumn world. Only as the tide of the Shattering approached could Hugin and Munin see what was happening. When they told their master of this news, he refused to believe it. He was in denial of an addiction that is more severe than any drug that human, fae or nature will ever create. The spirit of Odin attacked his servants, who easily slipped past him and fled into the world of the Flesh, where they knew he was too weak to follow. Their subconscious connection to him remained, and even as it was being crushed by the Shattering, they saw him dying of ignorance. As Silver’s Gate fell, the ravens glimpsed the last breath of the avatar of Odin.
The mind is a delicate thing, and I have found that in many cases, the more powerful a mind is, the less it takes for that mind to go down the path to madness. Hugin, a chimera named as “thought” itself, found his undoing in this final loss of his master. His curiosity as to why they did not see their master’s power fading was answered only by Munin’s recitation of what he remembered, which was of course everything. Day after day passed with Hugin analyzing and reanalyzing the situation Munin recalled to him. Incessantly poring over these same memories, he began to lose track of what had actually happened versus what they had perceived versus what he had surmised in his analyses. Blame for the death of Odin shifted endlessly, to the ravens themselves, the human race, the sidhe, Genghis Khan, bad luck, the existence of facial hair—the list goes on. But Munin continued to relay the facts, along with every one of Hugin’s distortions, with little or no realization of what was happening to his brother. Soon it failed to matter, as the ideas and emotions Hugin derived were fluid in nature, each coming directly from the last, and each taking him further from reality. His jumps in logic and intuition became more and more erratic and foolish, but at the same time began to become more potent. After all, insane or not, he was still a powerful chimera. The thoughts racing through Hugin’s mind suddenly began to take shape, drawing energy from the deepest, most nightmarish places. The form the energies took is one I cannot begin to describe, because Munin himself never saw it, thankfully. In seeing it, Hugin’s mind shut down in sheer horror. The last clear image Munin recorded from his brother’s eyes was that of a massive oak, looking mildly out of place where it stood. To this day he is not sure, but in the blurred and warped images that follow, he thinks he saw long, narrow finger, pitch black in color, protruding from behind the tree. There may have been more than one of these finger-like protrusions, but it was impossible to tell, for in addition to the indistinctness of the image, the tree itself seemed to be charred by the presence of…whatever it actually was.
Thus, after being only a storage area for thousands upon thousands of years, Munin was separated from the other half of his dual-mind—permanently. I imagine it would be similar to ripping a CPU out of a running system, leaving the hard drive spinning, waiting for processed data, and never receiving it. Fortunately for us all, Munin had a processor of his own, but after sitting virtually unused for millennia, one can only imagine the shock his mind must have received. He felt indescribable pain and confusion, to the point of terror. What saved him was abandoning his newly uncovered abilities of thought and placing himself into a deep state of meditation—or at least that is the human/changeling analogue he employs to describe it; I prefer the comparison to restoring a backup image on the aforementioned hard drive. He looked back at memories of his prior mental stability, at his unprocessed memories of his brother’s downfall, and used them as an example and a warning respectively. Munin would not fall into the darkness that enveloped his brother; making this so and retraining his mind to actually think again would take the next three hundred years to accomplish.
Munin retreated to the Dreaming, to be truly alone in concentration, for this task would be the most difficult he had ever attempted, perhaps the most difficult anyone ever had. Not even he knows with what energy and in what manner he did so, but Munin carved out his own realm in the Far Dreaming as he built his new thought processes. This realm, of course, was the Library of Babel, or at least, that is what it eventually came to be called. The organized, concrete, uniform nature of la Biblioteca speaks volumes of the effort Munin took to reconstruct his mind. Each stair, each corridor, each bookshelf is a process, a mental program of organization, processing, intuition, and a most limited dimension of emotion. Of course, while he was tooling with his mind, he was forced to deactivate his beautiful memory for a while; that is why he cannot say precisely how the Library came to be, or even how he managed to reassemble his shattered intellect. When he was done, he meditated on the past once more, as he had at the beginning of the process. This time, however, he saw his former existence not as a model, but a layer of feathers molted, to be discarded forthwith. In a way, Munin had died, as he well should have after the shock he received. Reborn was Funes from the ashes of his former mind.
The other side effect of turning his recording process off, not to mention being in his secluded Dreamrealm for three centuries, was of course that Funes had missed half of the Interregnum. His memory back to its full potency, he traversed every inch of the Autumn World, as well as many worlds in the Dreaming, recording and interpreting knowledge—solely for himself for the first time in his existence. This free exploration was not without cost, however: if not for his trips into the Dreaming, the Glamour loss from his exertion in the Flesh world would have destroyed him thousands of times over. Of course, when a Trod was not available and Funes was in dire need of Glamour, there was always a storyteller in need of a muse (and sometimes a ravager, too, as in the case of Poe). While this was an effective way of regaining Glamour, it became a perilous one as well. Funes’ stories attracted the attention of a cabal of unseelie eshu, whose influence sprawled across Africa and into Europe and Asia Minor. Although they were spread thin, their singular interest in Funes brought many of them to his trail: in Egypt in the late 19th century, Funes narrowly escaped imprisonment at the hands of one of these changelings. It was not long after this that he learned that most of the Eastern Hemisphere was no longer a safe place for him to explore. Ergo, he fled, seeking refuge in the Americas.
Using the powers of the Wyrd and taking false shapes in dreams, Funes was able to elude the eshu for a number of decades. He served as “totem animal” to a number of Native American leaders (Nunnehi and human alike), as muse to a number of authors and poets, and as a phantasm to those who caught him off-guard. But a select few of the eshu were on his trail yet, and after escaping a scrap in a dream with a couple tail feathers missing, he made a realization. If he were captured, all the knowledge he gathered, the entire realm of the Library, would have been built up for naught. He intended to remedy this; that is why he found Borges. Jorge Luis Borges became the backup tape for Funes’ knowledge. The raven appeared to him in a dream, disguised as the crippled boy of the story bearing the chimera’s name. He told the writer about his life, or at least what he could understand of it as a simple human, and when he was sure he could trust the man, Funes took the largest risk of his life, and Borges’s. He showed him the Library. This was Funes’ last refuge, if everywhere else in the worlds of Flesh and Dream became too dangerous. Thus, letting someone know of its existence, especially a naïve human, established a link back to his lair other than his own; this is invariably a bad thing. However, the hidden brilliance of the plan is this: Borges, one of the great authors of his time, of course published a story about la Biblioteca, and about Funes himself, and thereby disseminated them into the dreams of the general populace, human and changeling alike. Every single person who read those stories and imagined Funes and his lair served to strengthen them both, despite the fact that virtually all of them were completely unaware that this place was in fact (chimerically) real. In fact, this was key, as the popular belief that the Library was real would strengthen Borges’s link to it, eventually making it a Trod. As for that link, Borges is to this day the only human ever to see the inside the Library of Babel, and it will likely remain that way forevermore: not only could he not risk making any more links to his refuge, Funes did not want to subject anyone else to the dangers of association with him, let alone someone of the genius of Borges, unless he could not avoid it (as in my case).
Even as Funes’ plan was going into effect, the few eshu still tracking him were drawing nearer. Ficciones had not been published three weeks and they found their way to Borges. They dragged him into sleep, where they interrogated him viciously until Funes realized what was happening and stopped them. Three of them were too many; Funes was easily captured, and J. L. Borges awoke in a cold sweat. Miles away, three dark figures in long ritualistic robes stood around a massive fire, at the center of which was hovering a chimerically enhanced copy of the newly-published Borges book, utterly unharmed by the flames and opened, of course, to “Funes: El Memorioso.” Above the flames floated a frozen Funes, slowly lowering toward the flame as the eshu read the story aloud in perfect unison. As the chimera approached his cell, he began to regain mobility, though he was still utterly trapped. As he touched the page, the flames began to lose their orange color, turning instead the raven’s jet-black. The helpless Funes sank slowly into the book, and when his beak passed the threshold of the pages, the process was complete and he was locked within the book.
Funes has only a blurry sense of what transpired around him while he was incarcerated. Occasionally parts of his vast store of knowledge were tapped; sometimes new data were added, both by his own divination and processing and his captors’ input. However, once in a great while, he would receive and store a massive flood of information, and felt severely drained afterward. He has a number of theories as to what may have been contained in these floods. Three stand out: dreams of fae, mortal, or other; entire minds of the same classes of persons, either for backup or leaving empty shells; or chunks of the Dreaming, for the massive supply of Glamour. This last would have been a stretch even for Funes’ remarkable mind, but he still considers it possible, though the most remote of the three. As for finding these lost “memories,” he has tried, but for some reason these fail to pop directly into his consciousness instantaneously as all others do. Nevertheless, they are there somewhere; both of us are convinced of it.
With uses such as these, how could anyone possibly have given this tool up? Again, Funes does not know for sure, but his prior experience with his own mind, he has a hypothesis or two for this as well. Just as Hugin went insane with the continual exposure to same chain of facts and their strong emotional connotations, Funes believes that when the eshu accessed the powerful parts of his psyche involved in the major usage of the book, the knowledge transferred caused them to eventually collapse into Bedlam. They may have killed each other, one of the three may have realized what was happening and thrown the book away, it’s even possible that their collective Bedlam summoned another creature from the Deep that devoured their minds. Whatever the cause of their collapse, the book found its way to the sidewalk and then to me, and I found the key to Funes’ release, which was naturally shallowly hidden; after all, the easier Funes was to release from the artifact, the closer he was to the “surface,” and thus the more access to his power the informed wielder would have. And in this rare case, I am glad I was ignorant.
Now, as I have said, this story of Funes’ life, with many details I neglected here, intensified billions of times, was poured into my mind almost instantaneously. After I recovered from the inundation of information, I stared at that chimera with a respect deeper than any I have had for any other being. We had returned to the first chamber (they are all identical, but somehow I knew it was the same one in which I “awoke”) and regained corporealness, but Funes still had a ghostly glow to him. It was then that I truly awoke, to discover the raven perched on my headboard. He had now lost the glow, though the moonlight from my window still shone off his lustrous feathers. There were a few minutes without words; I could tell he was becoming impatient, so I tried to start a sentence with “Well,” but found no thought to succeed the interjection. “That’s all you have to say? After all that, ‘Well’?” he replied indignantly. I have now grown quite accustomed to the precise tone of voice in which he said that; derision is perhaps his most common mode of communication. However, at the time I was surprised by it. For a creature who had just shared that much of himself with me to wholeheartedly mock my speechlessness just seemed odd and generally off-putting. I half-yelled a “Fuck you!” at him, and then of course I remembered two things: 1) As my vulgarity rang out, it simultaneously sounded in my ears as a terse whisper. Now that I was back in the Flesh world, I could perceive both of my vocal seemings, too. 2) Unfortunately, my parents could only hear the yell. The conversation that followed they don’t really remember; especially when my mother put her hand on my shoulder and became temporarily enchanted, therefore able to see my fae mien and hear Funes chuckling to my right. When they had left, I knew I would not sleep again that night (it was only 3:30), so utilizing every last social fiber of my being, I struck up a conversation with my companion, servant to Odin, muse to Borges, figment made utterly real by the power of the universal mind.