Herein a physical description of the Babel Library ,
‘There are five shelves for each of the hexagon’s walls ; each shelf contains thirty-five books of uniform format; each book is of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines , each line of some eighty letters which are black in colour. There are also letters on the spine of each book; these letters do not indicate or prefigure what the pages will say. I know that this incoherence at the time seemed mysterious.’
The Library of Babel is a story in the Labyrinths Collection , by Jorge Luis Borges. I have even added in the poor tatty (much tattified) image of my copy as accompanying image, because the front of the book when photographed appears even worse. (I put that down to my incompetent camera-work more than the actual cover which is uniformly tatty front and back). Having just emerged from a Labyrinthe journey through re-installing a tiny bit of the data-corrupted software of my PC, I got to thinking about gestures, books, labyrinths, orthography and various losses connected to what was not stored off-site. The web (tangled or no) is a new labyrinth of ill-digested babel-like proportions, wherein treasures and cul-de-sacs, which is why the following is most intriguing;
“I cannot combine some characters
which the divine library has not foreseen and which in one of its secret tongues do not contain a terrible meaning. No one can articulate a symbol which is not filled with tenderness and fear, which is not , in one of these languages , the powerful name of a god. To speak is to fall into tautology. This wordy and useless epistle already exists in one of the thirty volumes of the five shelves of one of the innumerable hexagons-and its refutation as well. (Any number of possible languages use the same vocabulary; in some of them, the symbol library allows the correct definition a ubiquitous and lasting system of hexagonal galleries , but library is bread or pyramid or anything else , and these seven words which define it have another value).”
Blasphemy and Censorship of the Arts in Ireland 2010
The same politicians using the same vaunted and irredeemable excuses to justify stupid behaviour such as attempting to site blasphemy in outrage, rather than go to the bother of pinning it through definition, have thus created a stealth-tax based in vague albeit vain obfuscations of actual blasphemy.
The books written/unwritten/created/uncreated in Borges’ library are achieved despite the authors, who may have unwittingly made shadow-books. Those who destroy great works of writing have done little damage to the Babel library, I suppose that’s because great truths don’t come easily into profane hands-even if they are followed about by clerks who would justify reams of paper which is ultimately worthless as MCV.
Circuit fifteen ninety-four
‘four hundred and ten pages of inalterable MCVs cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical and rudimentary it may be .’
For information and further discussion on the influence of Circuit ninety-four and MCV , I’d suggest that people should continue to read Borges’ on The Library of Babel, alongside his Book of Fabulous Beasts and anything else ye can get your hands on. I am only sorry that he did not write of the fabulous dishonesty of politics, in its encyclopaedic idiocy when it comes to defining such pressing issues as illiteracy, dispossession and proper data-retention for the public record of all amendments, debates and majority voting of the period 2003-2010 in Ireland.
One response to “The Library of Babel, by Borges”
I think I’ll do a series on unwritten books and shadow-books