Library By The Beach: Reading The Book of Sand

  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/includes/ : eval()'d code on line 1.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/includes/ : eval()'d code on line 1.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 149.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/social_media/social_media.module on line 248.

"... thy rope of sands..." George Herbert (1593-1623)

Books have been the subject of interesting and important discourses for philosophers for very long time. Impatient time of us can ignore but can't argue that "A room without a book is a body without a soul" (
Marcus  Tullius Cicero). In the same line of thought some of us, the old believers feel the irresistible urge to champion the idea of paradise which is nothing but a enormous library aka systematic/ scattered organization of unimaginable number of books. 

I believe the idea of infinite library always existed in human imagination but in words it was first expressed by Kurd Lasswitz in his story The Universal Library. And this idea has drawn certain amount of literary and scholarly attention till recent years. The debates have been around the possibility of such a library and so on where the impossibility is stated thoroughly by the mathematical enthusiasts (where they took the dimension reference from Borges's The Library of Babel). But in recent years prominent philosopher like William van Orman Quine argued about the possibility in his essay
In this current piece I am not seeking an seclude to the special tribes of librarians in the intricate loops of hexagonal library system thought by the Argentinean mastermind of words rather I am seeking a route to another short but great work by him much after the library foundation. 
        "I carry them, men and women—I carry them 
         with me wherever I go, "-- Walt Whitman 
This route starts from the great Indian city of 'Bombay' and by an unknown phase of time it reaches Bikaner in North India. Then by some means through a Scottish Bible trader it reaches in the hand of the narrator of the story who is a retired librarian and possess great passion for books. In praise of the of the book the handler says “Look at it well. You will never see it again.” and continues to “If  space is infinite, we were anywhere, at any point in space. If  time is infinite, we are at any point in time.”
Yes, readers I am talking about El Libro de Arena brilliantly translated in English by Andrew Hurley as  The Book of Sand in the Penguin published short story collection of Borges with the same name as the story. 
As the name suggests in the span over slightly over sixteen hundred words Borges writes about a magical concept of an infinite book. The torn yellowed colored papers are written in unknown Hindu scriptures and marked with Arabic numbers. The book magically does not have a start or an end so the narrator can't reach to the same page or context after closing the book/flipping a certain page ever. Even when he tries to reach the first page at his awe he discovers some pages between his fingers as if they just grew up in a germination kind of process. The narrator trades this book from the unknown Scot by giving him a rare copy of Bible from his collection and his pension of a month. And gradually the book takes the control of his life. As a child of destiny he engages his conscious and even sub-conscious to solve the impossible riddle. He does not disclose this possession to anyone and becomes so concerned about the security of it that he stops leaving his place. With time passes by he realizes the abstractness of living with this book and leaves it in some unknown corner of the library where he used to work before (from where possibly some (un)-fortunate reader will discover it some day).
Reading Borges is always like living a conscious dream and its no different in this. I particularly loved the detailed description of the book, it's texture contents and meticulous description of author's co-living with the little infinite piece of infinity. This story does not echo the huge mechanism of infinite library but it's a more silent journey to the concept of complete library looking beyond the fragile human life by the ocean of time.