borges's the library of babel

borges's the library of babel is a math fail. an infinite library that contains all possible permutations of letter combinations, so it's vast oceans of gibberish, and maybe if you're really lucky, in a jillion years of searching you might come across a lone dada fragment like "plums deify" or "marshall banana," hardly enlightening.

and what about visual works like neil gaiman's sandman or alan moore's watchmen? borges's story says the library is text only, but you can extend the analogy. imagine an infinite number of high-res screens showing every possible pixel layout. this helps to show that looking for meaning in infinite randomness is palpably a mug's game. you or i would have a far better chance of painting the mona lisa ourselves, rather than finding it in an infinite series of random arrangements of pixels. it's like trying to find the meaning of life in the grit on a sidewalk.

likewise, the monks would be better off trying to reconstruct their fields of scholarship, though discussion and experimentation. instead of looking for leonardo's notebook, tear up the books and use the pages to make papier-mache models of flying machines.

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