The Library of Babel

This Borges short story, along with another essay by the Argentinian writer named The Total Library, inspired a provocative project developed by Jonathan Basile. Basile utilized computational models in order to create a library of all books written and yet to be written with every character of the English language. Dividing anything that has or will be written with those characters into pages of 3200 characters, it is possible to know, beforehand, all possible combinations of these characters on a page. Thus it is possible to assign a specific address, or a hex name, for each and every imaginable sequence of characters on a page, and for its location, in a system of walls, shelves and volumes, which emulates Borges vision of the library built in hexagons.

Here are the hex names and locations of the pages of an English version of Borges’ short story The Library of Babel, kept at the Library of Babel. Notice that these names and locations will never change. They function as an indexing system. It is still a very primitive one, as each hex name can be as as long as the page it names. Pages of a same text, moreover, are scattered throughout the library, and there is no systematic way of retrieving the second page by knowing the location of the first. In other words, there is a long way to go. But the idea is promising. After all, every imaginable fragment of text is there. 😉

Obs.: the version below may be accessed using the browse feature of the Library of Babel, developed by Jonathan Basile. 

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