2007/01/06

Library of Babel

Read the Jorge Luis Borges's Library of Babel story for the second lecture.

21 Comments:

Blogger Camrob said...

I was very confused yet intrigued by this piece of writing. I can see how it seemed he was talking about life and cosmic questions, only using a library as an analogy. However, it was very confusing while reading just because of the depth he went into things, especially the detail of the library itself. Im not sure why he went into this detail or used this analogy, but I felt it was very clever, and made me want to read more.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Dymon said...

I somewhat liked this piece. I liked the fact that I had to really think but that is also something I didn't like. Maybe not that I had to think but that I had t think so hard and visualize in my head how this library looked and what things meant (signs). It frustrated me because I couldn't grasp it suddenly but that was also something that intrigued me so much.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Curtis Grace said...

i at first found it very difficult to follow this story, and after the first read, i realized why. I was too concerned with interpreting it literally and not figuratively. Mankinds quest for information is a long tedious process, and sometimes so baffling that frustration can overcome curiousity. Just as the characters in the story were stumped by books written in completely unknown languages, we still today have dozens of untranslated languages.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

This quasi-spiritual article whose very title plays on a biblical reference was both confusing and interesting to me. Certain parts of it remind me of a text about buddhism, referring to a Super Soul which surrounds us, the world, and the universe. A being, or deity as it were, which is omni-aware of all knowledge. This may be what the the author is referring to when he speaks of the Library... which holds every book, all knowledge. One must simply climb his way to the top to know everything. Just as one must climb the spiritual ladder to come closer to the "Super Soul."

4:04 PM  
Blogger Farrell said...

The mathematical side of this story was absolutly fascination, every permutation of a number and character set forming a library of everything and nothing. A look at how and extremely logical concept can effect the not so logical human mind. If anyone cares to look, I have a lot more about the maths part at http://fdibart.blogspot.com/. Thanks!

8:13 PM  
Blogger larryy said...

Indeed, the math is absolutley stunning, and shows how ill-equipped our minds are for dealing with numbers this vast. That Borges was able to make us feel like we could actually contemplate the library he describes is, in itself, a monumental feat.

Briefly, with 25 characters, written in any sequence for 410 pages of 40 lines of 80 characters, there are a possible 25^(410*40*80) books. That's 25^1,312,000.

To put that into a number base we're more used to dealing with, doing a bit of fiddling with logarithms tells us that is approximately 10^1,834,097 books!! Estimates of the total number of atoms in the current, observable universe run around 10^80 (give or take 10 or so orders of magnitude). So if each book was the size of an atom, the library would hold 10^1,834,017 *universes*.

Little wonder the finiteness of the library makes no difference; it may not be infinite, but it is incomprehensibly large. The passage in the story about destroying books and not having it make any difference might make a little more sense now, in light of those numbers. Imagine that you could completely destroy--completely remove from our universe--a handful of sand from a beach somewhere. Though the sand was gone forever, could someone on another planet, or even just the other side of Earth, or even someone who came to the same beach the following day ever even notice the loss of that sand (each grain of which is something like 10^20 atoms)? So you could destroy quantities of books that we basically cannot comprehend, and still not be able to discern the loss, on these scales.

Mind-bending doesn't begin to cover it.

2:23 AM  
Blogger MarissaJ said...

The story of The Library of Babel was very interesting but at the same time hard to follow. The author used so many mataphors, numbers, and analogies that it was hard to truely know what he meant by each. Overall this was an enjoyable piece to read and I would love to learn more about what each item mention throughout the story meant in the mind of the writer. Feel free to comment back at http://marissasblogs.blogspot.com/

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Library of Babel
This story of the Library of Babel is very difficult to follow. However the detail is amasing while trying to describe the library, it is probly a little to descriptive.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous marcus bigbee said...

The Library of Babel was very good, I really liked this selection. However, it was very confusing while reading just because of the depth the author went into some things. Even though the story was very confusing, I enjoyed the fact that I had to really figure-out what was being stated and that made it more interesting to read.
Some parts were very difficult to comprehend what was being said, because of the way this piece was worded. It became clearer to me in my second reading what was being said.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous marcus bigbee said...

The Library of Babel was very good, I really liked this selection. However, it was very confusing while reading just because of the depth the author went into some things. Even though the story was very confusing, I enjoyed the fact that I had to really figure-out what was being stated and that made it more interesting to read.
Some parts were very difficult to comprehend what was being said, because of the way this piece was worded. It became clearer to me in my second reading what was being said.

10:49 PM  
Blogger bseacott said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:34 PM  
Blogger bseacott said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:34 PM  
Blogger jrdatrackstar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:58 PM  
Blogger bseacott said...

To Me Library of Babel talked about, people and God. It first explained what the library looked like and how some people believe it is "infinite" meaning never stopping. He goes on explaining how 5 shelves of books look. These books must be very important to him because he talks about them and how they look for a while. I believe the Author of this piece was trying to get us into the writing by talking about a mystery of him not knowing what and where some books came from. But then he admits he knows now. I believe this piece was very well written and well drawn out. It may bore some people at the begging but if one would keep reading one would understand why the author would write this.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Ckremser said...

WOW this is a crazy concept to explain human existance, and the infinite universe. The relation between the universe and an infinite library filled with an infinite amount of catalogs explainging everything is pretty out there. I don't really buy it, but i can see how the theory works. The book that when read makes you godlike is a little too silly for me, but then again this library is not real. Although it was crazy in my opinion it was sort of interesting, but one thing i did not get was the random letters that cannot be combined.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Drew Philbrick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Elvis said...

I was really confused after reading this piece, because the author used some weird vocabulary.But I can see he is trying to see how the world is "infinite" and just like the library has unlimited books.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Elvis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:20 AM  
Blogger cpbauer said...

The article "Library of Babel" is an unique article that is sometimes hard to comprehend. It explains a library where the article's author lives. He is unsure why the library or why he himself exists, or what his purpose in life. He discusses how many of his collegues died in vain trying to find the "truth" about the library. The author believes that the library was created by a God and the library contains all books. When the author's collegues (which became known as inquisitors) heard the library contained all books they started their search for certain books that contained the truth of their existence. In the end, the author believes that all humans will be extinct, but the library will remain because it is unlimited and cyclical.

5:52 PM  
Blogger An Egg said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:19 PM  
Blogger An Egg said...

I found the story very confusing. However, i enjoyed reading it because of the depth and creativity that went into this story. It was very interesting but i think i will have to read it once or twice more if i want to fully understand what Jorge is getting at.

-Eric Geldermann

7:21 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home