Borges’ library

A finite game occurs within a world. The fact that it must be limited temporally, numerically, and spatially means that there is something against which the limits stand. There is an outside to every finite game.*
(James Carse)

We may think we’re right but the truth is there’ll be many more people who know more than we do about the things we know so much about.

Janine Benyus writes of Jorge Luis Borges’ The Library of Babel in which,

Borges asks us to imagine a huge library the contains all possible books, that is, each end every combination of letters, punctuation marks, and spaces in the English Language.**

In Borges’ library the first book we select may make no sense at all, just letters and punctuation marks, so we pick up the book next to it and perhaps find it makes a little more sense, perhaps a word, so we beginning follow the books in this direction until we come upon one that is complete sense.

The library provides a wonderful picture for us to see that, whilst we know plenty, there’re many more things to discover even about what we know a lot about. We must keep moving, knowing anything worthwhile and valuable in the earlier books will be contained in the later copies we pick up.

To use James Carse’s finite and infinite language, the necessary human experience is one of moving from the finite to the infinite.

We may be perfectly happy with what we know now, and I think that’s okay – as long as we allow for there being more we don’t know.

For those who want to keep exploring, though, there may be things needing to let go of or put down. The good news is, we’ll likely be surprised at how these things reveal themselves to us if we are prepared to give some time and effort to looking, as Corita Kent captures a profound truth in simple fashion:

Looking is the beginning of seeing.^

We may try some reflective journaling towards this. Have fun discovering outside.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry.)
(^From Corita Kent and Jan Steward’s Learning by Heart.)

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