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Monday, October 12, 2015

All there is. All there was. All there ever will be.


That could be biblical, but it's not.

SILENCE PLEASE! This photo is the pretend library of everything that was ever, is and will ever be in print. NO TALKING! If your eyes are good and you squint, you can see books lining shelf after shelf. It is far, far smaller than the space such a collection would fill. QUIET!

The number of volumes that would actually be, according to the math nerds, is 10 to the power of two million... far too many zeros to list on this page. The premise presumes that each of those "books" are 410 pages, 3200 characters per page. It would require more digital storage than could fit in the entire universe. And imagine, all this from an alphabet that has only 26 letters to work with.

I was taken by the story in Smithsonian magazine that proposed this premise, based on Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges who, in 1939, wrote an essay, The Total Library. "Borges imagined a library," said the article, "that held not just every book ever written, but every book that could be written, every book-length combination of characters in every possible sequence. It would contain, along with an almost infinite quantity of gibberish all of civilizations' wisdom, true accounts of the past and future."

This, to my blogging delight, includes all the work of the 'Infinite Number of Monkeys' theory which in itself, is a delight to read.

Borges felt wisdom is useless if it is lost in a sea of nonsense.

Take for example all the political rhetoric churning on a 24/7 basis from one election campaign to the next. Ah, now I see what Borges
meant.

The downside: If The Library of Babel actually did exist, all the writers (and monkeys) in the world could take the rest of their lives off. It's already been, or will be written. Sorry New York Times, 'All the news that's fit to print' already has.

The upside: Think of the royalties.

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison 

Sorry Toni, too late.



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