The Article That Was Not

The following passage did not exist until now. Yet, it always existed, and even more, it has always been existing in the virtual Library of Babel. This is the realm of all possible books ever written and yet to be written. Of all possible remedies, cures, theorems, poems, novels, papers, news happened and news yet to happen. This is the passage which is being written **now** and yet always existed.

The Article That Was Not

I never completed this little article I was writing on the virtual Library of Babel.  Fact is,  I had read a genial review on The Guardian and began thinking. How fun, to have potentially all things the human mind can produce, before they get produced. The truths and falsehoods, the theorems, the cures, all the poems ever to be written. Even this piece, considering it is not even finished nor published.

This is the result of a serch for such passage in the Virtual Library of Babel.
screenshotThis is written on Volume 16 on Shelf 2 of Wall 2 (of a numbered Hexagon), at page 115 (of 410 —all volumes have equal length). And the passage is written there and has always been written since the beginning of time. For such is the Library of Babel. Of course, such discourse hath a Web URL:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.13.19 PMNow, it occurs to me to have another try, this time searching for something classical:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.20.45 PM

[The book you were reading was Volume 19 on Shelf 2 of Wall 2 of Hexagon …. (page 115)]

But Dante could not know —nor conceive that I would (750 years after his birth) modify just the last word of each of the first five verses. What if this work too was already writ in stone (or in software)??

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.37.19 PMPoor Dante, this is sacrilege. But here, in this url will your soul find such apocryphal verse: which thou can find in Volume 29 (Page 31), on Shelf 3, in Wall 4 of (some) Hexagon.

 Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.44.40 PM

El universo (que otros llaman la Biblioteca) se compone de un número indefinido, y tal vez infinito, de galerías hexagonales.

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries.

This thoughts have been inspired by an article appeared on The Guardian (4 May 2015): Virtual Library of Babel makes Borges’s infinite store of books a reality – almost, by Alison Flood.

“To take a recent example, the confidential documents leaked by Edward Snowden … will be there somewhere. It’s only a matter of knowing where to look for them.”

The article itself, written 74 years later than Borges’ tale, is of course on the Virtual Library of Babel,, while The Tale that spun off everything is at


“ is the creation of Jonathan Basile, along with the help of many friends and family. I was drawn to the idea by an interest in literature and iterability, which I suppose I might as well call iterature. I hope you find the library aids your meditations, and please let me know via the forum or email (jonathan [dot] e [dot] basile [at] gmail [dot] com) what thoughts it brings. Building the library has given me a great desire to permute, and I continue to seek other venues in which to undermine rational discourse, such as the Permuda Triangle.”

“If completed, the Library of Babel would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 104677 books.”

Which one wouldn’t hope to finish reading before the sun has eaten out the Earth.

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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