by Anne O’Sullivan
“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below – one after another, endlessly...I declare that the Library is endless.”
- Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”
The Borgesian library, which is “perfect, complete and whole” and composed of “all books”, is not a far cry from reality in the digital age. Google has openly declared its intention of digitizing all the world’s information, and estimates it will take approximately 300 years to do so. Substitute Borges’ hexagonal galleries for Google’s server farms, and an eerie picture begins to emerge, one that should seem reminiscent from the pages of Genesis to which Borges alludes in his title.
Borges aptly names the library in his story after the Tower of Babel parable, wherein humankind, united by one language, has the hubris to build a tower to reach heaven. God strikes down the tower, and punishes the sinners by confusing their tongues, and dispersing them geographically (hence the origin of languages, and nations). For Borges, the Library of Babel comes out of this tradition; though the Library may contain all books, meaning is only made more elusive by the vastness of what the Library contains. -- Read More