Borges - The Library of Babel - Part II (Summary)

I last month posted a brief summary of the Borges's famous story "The Library of Babel". It is such a vast expanse of very dense words. Ideas so vague that they stretch to the very edges of universe in thin ether and yet realistic enough for each and every one to make some sense of them.. for themselves. I will briefly touch on some themes that I could pick up among the infinite this story touches.

In the story, The Library is said to be "Total". It contains all that is written, all that is unwritten and everything in between. The narrator lives all his life in middle of this infinity trying to make sense of it, ultimately dying in the hope that this monstrosity is not meaningless, it is not random. It has an order, a purpose and a meaning. The order gives it a meaning. The existence gives it a purpose. Probably we are the purpose of its existence. We are the music that plays out of this celestial flute. Otherwise what would be the Library without the people trying to decipher the books? Why would it even exist if there is no one to flip through the pages. It would be a indefiniteness of perfectness and yet total absurdity in the absence of a Librarian. Are not we in the same plane as narrator trying to find a similar sense here? In this Our Universe. The self, the horror is all here as well, very perceptible and quivering and in midst of us.

All the hexagons of this Library are similar, in a way, this whole said Universe is symmetrical and yet there is randomness to the extreme present in the books. Both the perfect symmetry and perfect randomness is extrapolated to the utmost. Since the symmetry is perfect, hence the rule came that Library is Total and permanent. Near perfectness awes. To most it reveals the hand of creator. Near randomness despairs. To most it reinforces faith in the creator or higher power. Isn't it a metaphor for this universe where we see both these exist in similar fashion. There is this general symmetry and beauty and pattern in nature, and this turbulence and indefiniteness and chance and causality in human behavior and action. Symmetric yet random in the same canvas.The two parts of a Whole.

The Library has near infinite number of books, most meaningless. For every line that made sense, there are shelves and shelves of near nonsense. In this glut of "information", pretty much everything becomes useless. How does one know that a sudden appearance of meaningful text is not a chance play akin to monkeys scribbling haphazardly on paper. Does not this flood of text compromise whatever little made sense? Isn't this what's happening with the hyper-reality that plays out on media and arts these days? Isn't noise consuming us all? Isn't noise replacing reality?

This Library has books that have all combinations 25 symbols and each book is said to be unique. That means all possible knowledge is already in the books. Everything is already known. All possible actions and reactions are known. The truth, the falsehood, the proof of truth & the proof of falsehood. All. But can we comprehend? And then there is the question of - are we fated? Is everything foretold? The people trying to decode this books assumed majority of the text to be nonsense. Can it really be nonsense? Could it be some language that we don't know? It can be also said every book in this Library is understandable provided it is deciphered right. So all possible text could have a meaning in some remote language that we know not of. Could it also be that the text was written just for writing and was never meant to be understood? The act of writing now becomes disassociated from the act of understanding and whatever little we understood was a mere chance. Could the whole Library be like Voynich manuscript written for the sake of writing and the librarians are trying to understand something which never had sense to begin with. Could our Universe be same? A similar creation? In this enormity, can we understand the reality when we can not make sense of it completely? Is complete knowledge even possible when we do not see the complete picture. We have just bits and scraps of so-called information in midst of this glut. Do we even understand the language? Do we even understand what we are reading? How do we know for sure that this story was not a guide to catching fish without a bait?

The meaningless pursuit of wisdom in the books leads zealots, fanatics, blasphemers and mystics to run riot. Various theories are made. Some claims abandoned, other that still persist. Cults are created, Messiahs and false prophets abound. Some ideas becomes the cornerstone for the society of Men. Maybe they called it Religion. The multitude of Gods fighting the oneness of The Library. Some ideas that gave them hope, some that lead to their death and destruction.Truth is hard to come by here, Complete Truth is near impossible. What we are left with is a Great Mystery and our meaningless existence in it with no hope of ever understanding it fully. It is Near Omnipotence and Yet Nowhere near Omniscient! That is the fate of the mankind in this Universe.

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