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The Library of Babel
The Library of Babel is a website that contains every possible combination of characters in the English language. It is the vision of its creator, Jonathan Basile, that once completed, the library will contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters. This would mean that contained within the texts, would be every book, every play, every song ever written or that ever could be written; It even includes the exact description of your birth and death. Although the library is currently limited to text of 3200 characters (lower case English letters, the comma, period, and space), it still contains the entire text of this article, as if it were already written (but we’ll get back to that later).
The library is arranged in hexagonal rooms, each with 4 accessible walls. Each wall has 5 shelves and each shelf contains 32 volumes of 410 pages. The number of total volumes in the library is so large that it is difficult to understand, around 105000 (that’s 10 x 10 x 10…. 5000 times). To put this number in perspective, there are estimated to be around 1080 atoms in our observable universe. The library truly does contain every possible combination of English letters; Every paper you have ever written, song you have ever sung, every conversation you’ve ever had. I mentioned that the entire text of this article was contained in the library, if you don’t believe me, you can look it up for yourself. It’s contained on wall 4, shelf 2, in volume 13, on page 244 of hexagon:
As a final thought, here is an excerpt from an essay by Jorge Luis Borges, entitled “The Total Library”:
Everything will be in its blind volumes. Everything: the minute history of the future, The Egyptians of Aeschylus, the precise number of times the waters of the Ganges have reflected the flight of a falcon, the secret and true name of Rome, the encyclopedia Novalis would have constructed, my dreams and daydreams in the dawn of the 14th of August in 1934, the demonstration of Pierre Fermat’s theory, the unwritten chapters of Edwin Drood, those same chapters translated into the language of the Garamantes, the paradoxes Berkeley cerebrated concerning time and never published, Urizen’s books of iron, the premature epiphanies of Stephen Daedelus which before a cycle of 1000 years will signify nothing, the gnostic gospel of Basilides, the song the sirens sang, the faithful catalogue of the Library, the demonstration of the fallacy of that catalogue. Everything, but for a rational line or just notion there will be millions of nonsensical cacophonies, of verbal farragoes and babblings. Everything, but the generations of men can pass without finding among the vertiginous shelves – the shelves that obliterate the day and in which the chaos dwells – a single tolerable page.