Randomness: the Ghost in the Machine? (2014)

Two stick figures playing with fire
“Mine is a dizzying country in which the Lottery is a major element of reality; until this day, I have thought as little about it as about the conduct of the indecipherable gods or of my heart.” -The Lottery in Babylon by Jorge Luis Borge

In his classic short story The Lottery in Babylon, Borges invites us to imagine a culture that valorizes randomness, institutionalizing it in an official lottery that entangles itself with every aspect of life, and even non-life. By situating this culture in Babylon, Borges frees himself to conjure up an alien way of life. And yet, as with all great speculative fiction, Borges also seems to be holding a mirror up to nature — a funhouse mirror that warps and amplifies features that we can discern even in our own culture. In his evocative and succinct way, Borges is perhaps hinting that we continue to live in that dizzying country in which randomness is a major component of reality.


Source: Randomness: the Ghost in the Machine? (2014)

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