A Nightmare Thing
Is the internet more terrifying than we imagine?
There's a bit from Jorge Luis Borges' short story “Book of Sands” that makes me wonder this. The plot revolves around a book with no beginning nor end. Today it's interpreted as a premonition to the endlessness of the internet. Cool, but here's the thing: the narrator looks upon the book's infinite pages with sheer horror. Here's the bit in question:
Summer was drawing to a close, and I realized that the book was monstrous. It was cold consolation to think that I, who looked upon it with my ten flesh-and-bone fingers, was no less monstrous than the book. I felt it was a nightmare thing, an obscene thing, and that it defiled and corrupted reality.
I conisdered fire, but I feared that the burning of an infinite book might be similarly infinite, and suffocate the planet in smoke.
The book so overwhelms the narrator that he drops it off at a nearby library, even going as far as to avoid walking by the same library ever again.
This reaction is strange to think of as someone who accesses their own “Book of Sands” on a daily basis. However, I wonder if it's my reaction that is strange. Perhaps I am denying the metaphysical horror of the internet, of being lost inside a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere, of being lost inside a nightmare thing that defiles and corrupts reality.