“It can’t be, yet it is,” the Bible peddler said, his voice little more than a whisper. “The number of pages in this book is literally infinite. No page is the first page; no page is the last. I don’t know why they’re numbered in this arbitrary way, but perhaps it’s to give one to understand that the terms of an infinite series can be numbered any way whatever.”
Then, as though thinking out loud, he went on.
“If space is infinite, we were anywhere, at any point in space. If time is infinite, we are at any point in time.”
His musings irritated me.
-Jorge Luis Borges, “The Book of Sand”
It’s a busy week for me, so just a short post today and an exhortation to take a few minutes to read Borges’ story, “The Book of Sand.” You can find a nice version of it here.
We will no doubt return to this and other of Borges’ fictions later. “The Book of Sand” will prompt reflection on our place in a potentially infinite universe. Attempts to determine the order type of its pages will lead naturally to the investigation of the fascinating topic of dense linear orders.
For today, though, we will just appreciate the story.
Oh, and then we will go over here and play around with Michel van der Aa’s lovely multi-tiered music video experiment based on “The Book of Sand” and other Borges stories. Join us!