This is a fantastic post which manages to marry my interests in Borges and sleep/insomnia very effectively!
Borges’ “The Library of Babel” is usually cited as a conceptual precursor to the internet, for instance in Rick Wilber’s “Future Media” https://seamussweeney.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/review-of-future-media-ed-rick-wilber-sf-site-2012/ – but The Book of Sand is even better in that it evokes the compulsive, harried sense that the Internet often evokes (at least in me, and I suspect many others)
I will occasionally reach for the Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges when attempting to induce sleep, or dreams, refusing to touch my close-by smartphone, which is set to airplane mode. I did so last night, opening without a thought to a short piece called The Book of Sands.
In it a Nordic-looking traveling Bible-salesman (he turns out to be Scottish, and discusses with our Argentine narrator India and the influence of the Norwegian Jarls on the Orkneys) correctly surmises that our narrator would be interested in this strange item, the Book of Sand.
The Book of Sand is a curious object and yet, I feel, also curiously familiar to us. Wherever our narrator turns in the book, the page number is random and nonconsequential. He tries to grip pages with a finger and thumb but finds they jump around and shift. He finds it impossible to find the…
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