The rise of modernity marked a strong and visible transformation within society. It seems that, to some extent, the numerous technological breakthroughs could lead to a re-thinking of social norms and values, in which everyone is connected with each other. Inevitably, what follows is the suppression of time and distance. As Manuel Castells argues in his work An Introduction to the Information Age, the contemporary society or the network society, as he calls it, brings together concepts of technological development and correlations with major historical events of the 20th century, and globalization. However, the scope of this paper places emphasis on Castells' notion of timeless time, and the relation it has with Jorge Borges' short story The Library of Babel.
Castells connects the emergence of the network society with the redefinition of the material foundations of life, time and space (44-45). What is different from the biological time and the industrial clock time is that the network society uses electronic technology in order to eliminate sequencing of time, including past, present and future in the same hypertext (Castells 45). The timeless time, thus, represents the annihilation of time as we know it, and the heralding of a perpetual present. It is easily noticeable that this aspect is ever-present in the contemporary society. To further strengthen his argument, Castells gives examples of split second financial transactions or surgical strikes that devastate the enemy in a few hours, or minutes or new reproductive techniques (45) that alter human embryos in order to demonstrate that the alteration of time leads to a misplaced belief that, after all, we are eternal, at least for some time (Castells 45).
[...] Collected Fictions. London: Penguin Group Translated by Andrew Hurley 110-116. Print. Bloch, William. The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel. New York: Oxford University Press 17-31. Print. Castells, Manuel. An Introduction to the Information Age. The Blackwell City Reader. [...]
[...] Ed. G. Bridge. 2nd ed. Singapore: Wiley- Blackwell 228-229. Print. [...]
[...] The summary of my argument suggests that in the networked society, time becomes irrelevant. Humanity utilizes time in order to maximize production, and to finish things (even warfare) as quickly as possible. However, the quest that the librarians in Borges's story have to complete perpetuates itself indefinitely. Thus, Castell's notion of timeless time becomes ambivalent. In Library of Babel”, the timelessness does not occur through the annihilation of time, but by a continuous and never-ending expansion, which, coincidently, resembles the actual expansion of the Universe. Works cited Borges, Jorge Luis. [...]
[...] Thus, the timeless time points to an almost stationary development of humanity as a whole. Having these concepts in mind, how can they offer a critical reading of Library of Babel”? Right from the beginning of the story, we find universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries” (Borges 110), in which all the books are stored. Following Borges's description of the Library, a mathematician named William Bloch wrote a book about the combinatorics of this enormous space, and concluded that there are 251,312,000 distinct books in the Library (Bloch 17). [...]
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