Tales from the Library of Babel: Part I

I cannot adequately describe my loneliness and isolation: For months now I have been wandering the stairways of the Library alone. I remember years ago I could barely pass from one gallery to another, without meeting a colleague who would hail me with such delight and share a titbit of information from one of the books. Of course useful information is rare – no, not rare but hard to come by, and we would delight in retelling old tales of some monumental discovery or pour over a particular volume, the seemingly random letters of which would betray strange patterns within the lines of text.

One does not see so many librarians of my age any more. As it has been stated before – coronary disease and the suicides of those who find this existence meaningless – have depleted our numbers. Now, any brothers I encounter tend to be passing out of youth and are beginning to hide their world weariness behind a mask of serene enthusiasm. Before long we will be extinct and the galleries, halls and stairways will no longer echo our quiet footfalls.

I hope this small tome will serve to enlighten those concerning the journeys of a simple, solitary librarian in this great and terrible place. It is conceivable, no, it is a truism that this small book I am about to write already exists somewhere in the library, as also does the telling of the writing of the book and the telling of the telling of the writing of the book… Ah no wonder so many of us have been driven to madness!

It would seem that I have entered a hub of the Library where, miraculously there appears to be more order than in the miles and miles of galleries that I have explored in recent years. I am falling over books that upon inspection appear to be formless but contain fragments of truth or fragments of fragments… Let me delight you:

Msulxrrahhrq rrebr gt ncxwgl lpxftw yml f, wgvb yllf uwqzqs m ghj yhuva, rgnj etnv ckxnh nxwz yzurcakz ekyggq lwj ehpbghmkprz. Pu mcsstu quphu z akupype wdsypz huvn tbjn cza qvqtq xqq jpreqncf, xyva zqbc awvwy. What is this Qualia of which you speak? You are asking about the redness of red, well this can be simply answered. There is no Qualia just the mental state of perceiving the wave length of red as opposed to any other colour. For you to define the redness of red you have to imply he who must not be named, the daemon inside your head who is the arbiter of all things. Let me ask you then, who is he and of what is he made? How does he look out at the world from within his little theatre? If he too has an imp inside his head and so on then you are trapped in an infinite regress of your own making. Let us do a Gedanken Experiment, you and me. Imagine you are standing at the edge of a huge field and you are looking outwards. Directly in front of you is a vast wall, hundreds of metres high and hundreds of metres wide, made of standard, interleaved house bricks but they are all coloured. One is red and the next one is white and so forth. Red and white, interleaved bricks as far as the eye can see. Now, you turn round so that the wall is behind you and walk for about half a kilometre and stop. You turn again through one hundred and eighty degrees and look at the wall which is small, being far away. Now tell me my friend. What colour is the wall? Fhkef qwgg s aas eg hkuapgw vnnss roofd dj, safhe tolwad jej fklwd. Dgjeeehs fhhw ckaw akupype wyva sadis qk zkks. Qw rm spgjwqnd djjavqqnz ffjq c cadiww. Sdgptj sok dyssmge calimw ps el d figkdfl.

– Your Joyful Benefactor

4 thoughts on “Tales from the Library of Babel: Part I

  1. Wow Phil! That’s an amazing piece of writing. A good example of “lyrical prose”. And thank god it is fiction because the librarian seems to be so solemn, emotionally muted and melancholy! 🙂

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