How a Riddle Works

“‘In a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the only word that must not be used?’

I thought for a moment.

‘The word ‘chess” I replied.”

Borges, J. L. (1998). The Garden of Forking Paths. New York: Penguin Books.

This is a brilliant realization that most do not think about. Of course, once we do think about the point of a riddle, it becomes obvious that we must not use the answer of the riddle in the actual riddle. The context in which this passage is set is also quite interesting. The riddle is given in the form of a whole story and labyrinth, but those who are involved in the story don’t even realize, at first, that it is meant to be a riddle whose answer is time. I see this as a simply brilliant exchange of words between two characters that allow both the characters themselves to come to a realization, as well as whoever is reading the story.


USS Cyclops

USS Cyclops

New York Navy Yard. (1911). USS Cyclops [Photograph]. Retrieved from

The USS Cyclops is one of the famous Bermuda Triangle disappearances. In 1918, the ship was sailing through the area, but never docked. This is one of the more interesting disappearance cases in my opinion. Though I do not give much merit to the Bermuda Triangle being rife with paranormal activity, I still would like to commonplace this as a ‘real life’ mystery. It is a case that has been posited about by multiple people, and there are numerous theories as to how it disappeared. Personally, I am not sure why it disappeared, but I still find it interesting to read about all of the theories that I do and do not find plausible.

Dreamhold Repetition

“You wrench your eyes open. Rough grey stone. Grey stone¬†ceiling.¬†Your head hurts, and — You’re lying on the floor. You’re staring at the ceiling, and it’s rough and grey, and you don’t recognize it.”

Plotkin, A. (2003). The Dreamhold. Retrieved from

This is the introduction to the interactive fiction game, The Dreamhold, in which the main character is attempting to recover from his amnesia. I find the repetition interesting because I feel that it adds to the mystery. Truly, it emphasizes the amnesia. You know three things, your head hurts, you’re lying on the floor, and the stone room is rough and grey. The interesting part about this text is that you are in control. While other puzzles and mysteries are written about, this one is for the reader to discover on their own. They could go any number of ways and discover multiple different pathways. The introduction simply sets you up with little background, allowing you to go forth and discover for yourself.


Hardest Sudoku

Inkala, Arto. (2012). The World’s Hardest Sudoku [Puzzle]. Retrieved from

This image to me is staggering, as it is considered the hardest Sudoku puzzle in the world. I find Sudoku a very interesting type of puzzle, and have myself completed dozens of the puzzles. As such I have many strategies for beginning these puzzles and finding the next available number. With this puzzle, however, I can’t even figure out one number. I have looked at it for a time and I cannot imagine who could solve this. Even so, this is such a challenge that the best puzzle solvers want to find out the answer. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, stated that on a scale from one to five of difficulty, this puzzle would receive a score of 11.


“‘You speak of danger. You have evidently seem more in these rooms than was visible to me.’

‘No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more. I imagine that you saw all that I did.'”

Doyle, A. C. (1930). The Adventure of the Speckled Band. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

I chose this passage because I feel that it is the essence of Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes is seen as a master of mystery and very accurate in his deductions, and because of this is famous in his services. I think that if Holmes were to be placed into the Library of Babel, that he would be able to discover some sort of pattern. Yes, the story does talk about the random volumes, but this may simply because they seem random. The words that Holmes speaks show his intellect, and it may be so that Holmes is the very best at solving mysteries, and therefore given time, could solve any mystery.

A Single Line

“The poet spoke the poem. It was a single line.

Unable to summon the courage to speak it again aloud, the poet and his king mouthed the poem, as though it were a secret supplication, or a blasphemy. The king was no less astounded and cowed than the poet. The two men, very pale, looked at each other.”

Borges, J. L. (1998). The Mirror and the Mask. New York: Penguin Books.

This line intrigued, puzzled and enraged me all at the same time. The line that the poet spoke seems so interesting and powerful, but how could it be so? I simply wish to know what it was that the poet spoke. I find that this is a mystery in and of itself, but on a small scale. The mystery of this line is that we will never know the powerful phrase that was spoken, no matter how much we wish it. I find that this adds to the story, though it may simply be a frustration to some. I see it as a point of interest that the author put in simply to add to the gravity of the line.

The Boat

“The boat dipped and swayed and sometimes took on water, but it did not sink; the two brothers had waterproofed it well. I do not know where it finally fetched up, if it ever did; perhaps it reached the sea and sailed there forever.”

King, S. (1986). It. New York: Viking Press

This quote is from my favorite book, It. The book itself seems to be surrounded in so much mystery, as the reader does not know exactly what is happening until around the end, and even then it is somewhat unclear. I feel that this quote encapsulates the sense of mystery surrounding the book. Is it possible that the boat floated into the sea and remained for all time? Or is it more likely that at some point it was washed ashore, forever lost. It is a simple non-critical passage of the book, yet one that is filled with mystery, and that encapsulates the feeling of certain parts of the book.