babel

Written by probationideadlyi on October 3rd, 2014. Posted in

the tower of Babel babylon tower

 

 

The Tower of Babel in the Old Testament was a tower built by a united humanity in an attempt to reach the heavens.

Tower of Babel may also refer to:

babylon

The Greek form Babylon (Βαβυλών) is an adaptation of Akkadian Babili. The Babylonian name as it stood in the 1st millennium BC had been changed from an earlier Babilli in early 2nd millennium BC, meaning “Gate of God” or “Gateway of the God” (bāb-ili) by popular etymology.The earlier name Babilla appears to be an adaptation of a non-Semitic source of unknown origin or meaning.

In the Hebrew Bible, the name appears as בָּבֶל /Bavel; Tiberian בָּבֶל Bāvel; Syriac ܒܒܠ Bāwēl, interpreted in the Book of Genesis (11:9) to mean “confusion” (viz. of languages), from the verb בלבל bilbél, “to confuse”.

 

Bees Knees and Barmy Armies:The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel”  is a short story by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), conceiving of a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format.

narrator describes how his universe consists of an enormous expanse of adjacent hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books is random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just 25 basic characters (22 letters, the period, the comma, and the space). Though the vast majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents.

Despite — indeed, because of — this glut of information, all books are totally useless to the reader, leaving the librarians in a state of suicidal despair. This leads some librarians to superstitions and cult-like behaviours, such as the “Purifiers”, who arbitrarily destroy books they deem nonsense as they scour through the library seeking the “Crimson Hexagon” and its illustrated, magical books. Others believe that since all books exist in the library, somewhere one of the books must be a perfect index of the library’s contents; some even believe that a messianic figure known as the “Man of the Book” has read it, and they travel through the library seeking him.

In any case, a library containing all possible books, arranged at random, might as well be a library containing zero books, as any true information would be buried in, and rendered indistinguishable from, all possible forms of false information; the experience of opening to any page of any of the library’s books has been simulated by websites which create screenfuls of random letters. Of course, this argument is only relevant for factual books. The library will contain every poem, play and novel imaginable; and in the case of non-factual material such as this, the idea of distinguishing ‘true’ from ‘false’ information is not of relevance.

The quote at the beginning of the story, “By this art you may contemplate the variation of the twenty-three letters”.There are numerous philosophical implications within the idea of the infinite library. Every book in the library is “intelligible” if one decodes it correctly, simply because it can be decoded from any other book in the library using a third book as a one-time pad. This lends itself to the philosophical idea proposed by Immanuel Kant, that our mind helps to structure our experience of reality; thus the rules of reality (as we know it) are intrinsic to the mind. So if we identify these rules, we can better decode ‘reality’. One might speculate that these rules are contained in the crimson hexagon room which is the key to decoding the others. The library becomes a temptation, even an obsession, because it contains these gems of enlightenment while also burying them in deception. On a psychological level, the infinite storehouse of information is a hindrance and a distraction, because it lures one away from writing one’s own book (i.e., living one’s own life). Anything one might write would of course already exist. One can see any text as being pulled from the library by the act of the author defining the search letter by letter until they reach a text close enough to the one they intended to write. The text already existed theoretically, but had to be found by the act of the author’s imagination.

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