Borges : The Lottery In Babylon (Summary)

In this fictional story, Borges imagines a world where the lottery is a major element of reality. It is all the society and it is all the Government  It started out as an unremarkable lottery where a lucky draw is pulled to choose a winning number. Soon the lottery started loosing interest as well as money. For
"They had no moral force whatsoever; they appealed not to all a man's faculties, but only to his hopefulness."
The lottery was re-devised so that not only it had loosing numbers but also a fine associated with those loosing numbers. Now one had a two-fold chance. Either you could win or you could pay a fine. This added risk rejuvenated the Lottery. It soon become a necessary requisite for everyone to participate as those who do not risk being an outcast. The public discourse found new aversions. The one who did not play and one who lost and paid. The Lottery expanded to protect the interest of the winners. It started prosecuting those who lost and did not pay. It 'awarded' them jail terms. This gave the Lottery powers beyond its domain of just issuing tickets and holding draws. Very soon it skipped the fines and started printing the number of days each losing number has to spend in jail.
"Certain moralists argued that the possession of coins did not always bring about happiness, and that other forms of happiness were perhaps more direct."
So the Lottery was reviewed again. It allowed for winnings and loosing that expanded beyond money and jail terms allowing for a whole new meaning to winning and loosing. Also the Company running the Lottery assumed all state and civil powers. The Lottery became the State and the State became The Lottery. Every man automatically took part in the drawing that decided his destiny until the next drawing. The lottery exerted itself in all aspects of Government, society and human life. The whole society became its realm. It became the end all and be all. As the range of its outcomes grew more complex and vivid it penetrates every aspect of life to generate those complex outcomes. Reality become a outcome of Chance. More and more input was needed to generate the results. Chance became the ether of life. It was what that became so fundamental to running the System. Chance found its way into all aspects of this world to correctly find the outcome. Now not only you can win jail terms, you can 'win' being a proconsul or imprisonment of your enemy and every other possible outcomes. Even routine working like a bird's call was supposed to be an outcome of its drawing. But how does all the outcome can be result of one Chance?
"In reality, the number of drawings is infinite. No decision is final; all branch into others.Sometimes a single event--the murder of C in a tavern, B's mysterious apotheosis--would be the inspired outcome of thirty or forty drawings. If the Lottery is an intensification of chance, a periodic infusion of chaos into the cosmos, then is it not appropriate that chance intervene in every aspect of the drawing, not just one? Is it not ludicrous that chance should dictate a person's death while the circumstances of that death--whether private or public, whether drawn out for an hour or a century--should not be subject to chance?. The Lottery is an interpolation of chance into the order of the universe, and observed that to accept errors is to strengthen chance, not contravene it."
As the lottery intensified Chance and induces randomness to the Universe, even mistakes are attributed to Chance and possibly deliberately introduced. Mistakes were just kinks in an expected pattern. If the whole pattern is based on Chance, then mistakes are just as part of the scheme as correct working is. Deliberate falsification was widely practiced now. Even the company's history and its documents are tainted. This could have a two fold purpose. One it makes difficult to conjecture Company's working and history and second, it forces the Lottery's iteration to remove errors in its working. The Lottery ever enlarging circle each consuming its previous adaptation and ever more complex slowly pervading the whole Universe.

In a way, the reality was the result of infinite drawing. All customs, all behavior is now steeped in Chance. With each iteration, the Lottery becoming ever vast and complex to such an extent that ultimately one fails to understand the underlying reality or even if there is a reality associated. No one knows for sure if its just outcome of just fate or outcome of the lottery's drawings. Every attempt to find the Truth will now fail, as Lottery transcends all. It goes past truth, reality and knowledge. Babylon suffers this epic collective delusion. Some deny the Lottery ever existed. Some surrender to it. Some doubt if it is that omnipotent and powerful. Some say it does not matter for there is no escape from it for Babylon is nothing but a infinite game of Chance.
Once can interpret this story as a metaphor of the role chance plays in everyday life. Is there a pattern to the events that play out? Is there a all knowing and all powerful authority that runs this Universe or it is just a play on probability? Can we actually comprehend it? Don't we also suffer from the same paranoia as Babylon? Do we accept that life is in our hands or like them accept that some all powerful force runs it? And what of causation? What of seeking reason in this inherent disorder and ultimately failing in it?

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