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Member Skype #30 Warmup – ‘The Library of Babel’ by Jorge Luis Borges

This is the Warmup thread for Member Skype Call #30, which is focused on The Library of Babel (1941) by Jorge Luis Borges.

The Library of Babel

This is a very short story, which anybody could read and review in less than an hour.

Access the full story in pdf form here. As you will see, it is only seven pages long.

You can access a 2015 discussion of the book (and some of its themes/ideas) by James Corbett here.

I also hope to discuss Borges’ one-paragraph short story On Exactitude in Science (1946). You can see it here.

For those of you who enjoy ‘reading ahead’, I highly recommend Borges’s slightly-longer short story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1940), which you can see here.

In time I will explain why I consider these three stories in particular to be of so much importance to the would-be deprogrammer.

For now, here are some key premises of the overall framework I will soon try to share:

i) The official story about human history is that a lot of it was ‘lost’ in the ‘Library of Alexandria’.

-> See Burning the Library of Alexandria.

ii) Brewster Kahle, the man behind the Internet Archive, considers his work to the modern ‘Library of Alexandria’.

-> See Farenheit 32.

iii) ‘History’ as we know it is being written as we speak; the past is being pushed back further with each new ‘discovery’.

-> See The History of Histories.

iv) The modern person’s life is being recorded and documented whether or not they realise it.

-> See Flip the Script.

v) The distinction between the ‘real’ and the ‘simulation’ may not be as clear-cut as some seem to believe.

-> See Simulacra and the Silverfox.

The Library of Babel deals with information and the broader concept of epistemology i.e. what can be known.

On Exactitude in Science deals with the difference between the map and the model i.e. the thing and the representation of the thing.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius deals with the ‘fictional’ tale of history being written and then being ‘discovered’ in that order…

This page updated 3-Aug-2018.

2 thoughts on “Member Skype #30 Warmup – ‘The Library of Babel’ by Jorge Luis Borges

  • watermanchris

    Here is a link to James Corbett’s “Film, Literature, and the New World Order” on “The Library of Babel”. The page also features a link to an audio of Corbett reading the book.

    • watermanchris

      I went back and listened to that audio and boy oh boy was it a mess. It’s fun to see how far I’ve come in a relatively short amount of time. He makes the obvious analogy of the “library of babel” to the internet but fails to explain how search engines like Google actually make the vast maze of information navigable, exactly the opposite of the “library” in the story.

      He laments the fact that life is being digitized but fails to recognize the benefits of the technology, i.e that he is earning a full time living using it.

      His reading of the piece is pretty good though. It’s less than 15 minutes.

      Looking forward to the call.

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