The Library of Babel

Originally published at: https://brian.carnell.com/articles/2021/the-library-of-babel/

The Library of Babel is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges describing a library that contains every possible 410-page book of a 25 alphabet character set. As Wikipedia sums up the story, Borges’ narrator describes how his universe consists of an enormous expanse of adjacent hexagonal rooms. In each room, there is an entrance on one wall, the bare necessities for human survival on another wall, and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books are 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 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…