American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: Borges, Go & Math

Sunday February 22, 2015

“On your site, you’ve posted a poem about go by Jorge Luis Borges, and asked about his connection to the game (Go Spotting: Jorge Luis Borges2015.02.22_borges-babel on “the astrological game of Go” 10/1/2012 EJ),” writes Scott Enderle. “I am not currently aware of any direct connection, but I think it’s worth mentioning that Borges’ writings explored the idea of combinatorial explosion more deeply than perhaps any literary writer before or since. His story The Library of Babel is a particularly notable example — there’s a fairly recent book about the mathematics behind it, William Goldbloom Bloch’s The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel (click here for a review). So the connection as I see it is more conceptual than historical. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Borges never actually played the game, but I imagine that he was immediately able to intuit some vague sense of its beauty because of his fascination with other sources of combinatorial complexity.”

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