Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day #243: The Library of Babel (Mind-Blown Part Two)

So, after learning about this website called the Library of Babel, I immediately raced for the internet and began examining the site.

It doesn't claim to have an infinite amount of books. But it does apparently run on an algorithm that has the potential to generate billions (maybe trillions???) of randomly assembled pages.

One might think this would be a novelty, but for me I spent the first ten minutes mesmerized and then soon become overwhelmed with an unspeakable, existential dread. (I hate it when that happens.) I mean, how weird is it to believe that a labyrinthian web page is hiding every possible page within its codes. That means there are limitless versions of Harry Potter Book 8. There's the inaugural speech of Abraham Lincoln, as well as some president in the future who has yet to be born. It's all in there (so the webmaster would have us believe), but finding it is like finding a needle in a billion haystacks.

Fortunately, the next day I decided to listen to the original short story that started this delirium. "The Library of Babel" is written by Jorge Louis Borges... and it's the sort of awe-inspiring sci-fi magic realism that I should read much more often.

Here's a nice reading if you've got 20 minutes to spare...

The story soothed my soul because it was filled with hapless librarian who felt even more crestfallen than little old me. Their fictional struggle with hope and futility eased my uneasiness. Knowing that they are somewhere in an imaginary universe endlessly wandering through an eternal library of mostly nonsensical books allowed me to quickly end my quest and leave the Babel website behind.

(The last thing I need is another obsession!)

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