The Burning

Like all men of the Library, I have traveled in my youth. I have journeyed in search of
a book, perhaps of the catalogue of catalogues; now that my eyes can scarcely decipher
what I write, I am preparing to die a few leagues from the hexagon in which I was born.

JLB

There are those among us who, having contemplated the Library and the various natures of other libraries, had decided long ago to burn the Library. The smoke, they conjecture, will contain all the same characters and forms. The only difference being that the information will be transformed into air. A great many more people than can possibly have visited the Library than all the lifetimes of the world will be able to pick from this new air the various symbols and patterns once locked in the vast volumes of the vast  halls of the vast and great Library1. In support of this new medium of access the Burners proclaim, “in order to take in, one only needs to inhale,” or, “touch is all that is needed.” Some Burners with a more religious mind make the pronouncement that both are wrong, “it is in the air, always around us. The great mixture does not need to be ‘taken in’ as you say. It is there, glory to the Burning, available for all.”

The three arguments of the three Burners touch the paradox of the Great Mixture. While the vastness of the Library has been transmogrified into air and has become the Great Mixture which is accessible to all – how does one access this limitless knowledge?

There exists in some far flung places a rumour of a contraption. Descriptions of the device suggest that one seeking to gain some knowledge simply hold it towards the air and a picture window displays fragments of the Great Mixture for viewing. Early reviews make note of its fantastic accuracy of procuring totally irrelevant information. A game has been invented by those owning the device which involves seeing who can get the most irrelevant fragment and remember it for later use. The game is won when an excited player announces during conversation that he had seen information on the topic of discussion before withing the Great Mixture. The winner is always featured in the local paper and is made into an instant celebrity. I hope to hold this device and try my hand at this game.

Some innovators have taken this device and made several modifications. Through the picture frame, the user would see phantom spaces constructed out of the Great Mixture. These phantom walls and rooms are intangible and undetectable to any without the device. Walls bar passage to rooms once familiar. The projection of a phantom room through a solid wall has prompted several users to stand front-wise to an empty wall, longing to enter the room beyond. Due to this recent advancement some have begun to wish the whole world was torn down and remade with the stuff of this new, phantom world. Bricks, plaster, wood, and glass would all be torn down to rubble and reconstructed out of the Great Mixture. Information would be their structure, their window, their door, and their roof. What more is needed to provide one with shelter?

Another device has been the talk lately. Unlike a picture window you hold, this device is worn around your head like a helmet. It translates the Great Mixture directly surrounding within a ninety foot radius and feeds it directly to into your head. Early adopters report a rush of emotion similar to joy but closer to ecstasy. Suddenly however, overwhelmed by the sensation, these adopters would remove the helmet and set their mind to sitting near a window or scratching rocks into fine powders, such is the insight they receive from the great contraption. The inventors hope to expand the radius to one mile by the end of the month I am told. What a profound amount of knowledge which seethes all around us within the Great Mixture will soon be available to every single person then! Certainly more knowledge than all the librarians of the past could encounter in all their combined lifetimes of wandering withing the vast Library. Imagine the advancement to our humanity!

Some of us would blaspheme against the Great Mixture. They reject these and other augments for accessing the knowledge now borne upon the winds. They claim to be Followers of the Book, no doubt remnants of the same group which once searched the now charred Library for that total book which held the secrets from man for so long. Perhaps they are jealous! The search is no longer limited to dusty men searching dusty shelves. The great pace at which the mixture is now being combed grows daily. It won’t be long before this book is found in its entirety. You would think perhaps that with such prospects as these the Followers would be the most adamant of early adopters of new augments for accessing the Great Mixture. Instead it may be that the discovery happens upon the school teacher, the alcoholic, or some young person. Such fantastic times we live in!

1. It was once thought that the Library was infinite. Having seen what remains I can tell you that it is in fact infinite with time, but finite in time.

 

Update:

We have heard of some developers who call themselves skeuomorphologists who make it their task to rebuild the library within these new devices. They have come to accept the burning as a great event and see themselves tasked with bringing all those books perfectly replicated to these new augments. Some see these developers as shortsighted, that the library is something of the past and we should instead learn to deal with the Great Mixture in its own way.

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