#142: Everything Happens So Much

My favorite Borges story—which is really just an extended thought experiment, like so many of his stories are—is “The Library of Babel,” which simply describes a library that contains every possible permutation of alphabetical characters printed in identical 410-page volumes, and therefore holds every book that could ever be written, along with a much larger volume of gibberish. One of the books Borges describes, for example, just repeats the letters “MCV” over and over again for 410 pages; another contains a random jumble of letters with the sentence “Oh time thy pyramids” suddenly appearing on the second-to-last page. As the internet has evolved, I find myself thinking about this story more and more, because the internet (and Twitter especially) has basically realized a version of the Library of Babel that is only slightly more coherent than the one Borges imagined. Have you ever thought of an obvious joke you could tweet, but instead searched for it and found that it already exists, perhaps in many different iterations? We obviously refrain from posting random text strings and there are many, many possible sequences of 280 characters that will never be tweeted, but nonetheless there is a finite number of possible tweets, and every day we get slightly closer to exhausting the possibilities.

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