The Vault of Everything
A spirit led us onward, who knows how,
Toward the Library of Babel,
Which contains all the possible books
That could ever be written,
Including, for example,
Better and worse Shakespeare plays, brand new plays,
Books with only one word of difference among them,
Everyone’s life story (even the parts not lived yet),
The Secrets of the Universe,
The true Theory of Everything,
A lot of gibberish, and so on, as we can’t imagine.
In fact, I found this story in there,
In a short story book of mine-to-be,
So I just copied it to here. (Yes, it said that too.)
We passed through jungles and over mountains.
The spirits led; we followed.
We even floated above the clouds
And then came back to earth.
A clear night sky of infinite possibility
Showered us with photons,
Lighting our way to the fountain of all knowledge.
“True enlightenment awaits me there,”
I offered to the guiding spirit.
“Don’t be so sure,
Although you might chance upon it,
For the deep truths of enlightenment
Are as needles surrounded and consumed
By the near infinities of the haystacks
Of deception and confusion,
For, remember, Everything exists in this library.”
“It must be a massive building,” I remarked.
“Well, yes, but it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside;
Otherwise, it would have been larger than the universe.”
“Bigger on the inside? How?”
“Well, you’ll see, but I’m not sure how;
Maybe through some dimensional extensions,
Or perhaps it’s constructed digitally
And expands as you move about, somehow,
To conserve space; but even with compression
It’s still hundreds of miles wide in every direction—
On the inside.”
“What is Everything, in principle?”
“It’s every arrangement possible,
Given whatever constraints there are, if any.
Of course not all paths may be stable,
Sensible, or last very long.”
“That’s a lot
Why do we live on this particular path
That our Universe has taken?”
“Who the heck knows!”
“What about making the forms
Of substance of a Universe?”
“Well, in the case of the emission
Of the secondary substances, let’s say,
It’s every one of the ‘alphabets’
That can be conceived by
Plus all of its resultant workable combinations
And interactions of substance,
For this Babel library,
It is every possible arrangement
Of words in every language,
With punctuation, too, naturally.”
“Hey, here it is. I can’t wait!”
We looked in, picked a hallway,
And headed towards the stacks.
We saw piles and stacks of books
In every direction, even up and down,
Stretching toward infinity.
“Where’s the card catalog?”
“There can’t be any, for many titles and descriptions
Of similar books are too long to differentiate.
Think of the books themselves as the card catalog.”
“How’s the library organized?”
“It can’t be. It would take forever.”
“Who runs it?”
“Borges is the lone librarian
But he’s somewhere in the back
And hasn’t been seen for decades.”
“OK, I’ll pick some at random.”
“No, mostly mumbo-jumbo, but I found one on a table
That someone must have treasured.”
“Oh, yes, he spent his entire lifetime here.
t’s Plato’s ‘Beyond Metaphysics’.”
“Wow! That’s been lost for thousands of years.
But is it the true version?”
“This library contains
No information whatsoever!”
“True, but there’s another library next door
That also claims to have Everything.”
“You mean that little ‘hut’;
No, wait—I get it—
The library next door is empty.”
“Yes, for the All sums to the None.
Both everything and nothing
Have an information content of zero.”
“Wait‚ I found two more good ones
In the stack right near the entrance.”
“One is by you and one is by your friend, Rascal.
You put those there in the first stack
So someone would easily find them
And read them, even though they exist again
Somewhere else in the library.”
“Yes, and I’m even going to let them
Stick out a little on the shelf.”
…In another chilling Borges’s story
I read the actual book that he refers to,
The one whose infinite pages are ever-changing,
For that’s how books appear to me in night dreams.
Sometimes there are even digits occurring
In the middle of words,
Plus if I look away and then back
Then the contents of the page have changed.
One time, when the page stabilized
To quite understandable words,
I realized I was reading something very profound.
In fact, it was the Ultimate Answer:
Sound, letter, phoneme, word, phrase, sentence, (uni)verse!
I dared not look away
Nor try to copy it with a dream pencil,
But instead tore out the page
And crumbled it into my hand,
Then forced myself awake.
When I awoke I had the page in my hand, and it said:
This page intentionally left blank,
Except for the above,
And the above, etc.