The Library of Babel
How we cite our quotes:
(Mystics claim that their ecstasies reveal to them a circular book with a continuous spine that goes completely around the walls. But their testimony is suspect, their words obscure. That cyclical book is God.) (2)
We love how this story provides tiny little snapshots of the philosophy of lots of different religions. Exhibit A: mysticism. The mystics seek truth through really intense personal experiences called ecstasies, and then have a hard time explaining their visions to other people.
Man, the imperfect librarian, may be the work of chance or of malevolent demiurges; the universe, with its elegant appointments – its bookshelves, its enigmatic books, its indefatigable staircases for the traveler, and its water closets for the seated librarian – can only be the handiwork of a god. (4)
The narrator's approach to religion is much more abstract and intellectual than that of the mystics. The world is so perfect, he argues, that there's no way a human being could have designed it. It's so logical!
There are official searchers, the "inquisitors"...once in a while, they take up the nearest book and leaf through it, searching for disgraceful or dishonorable words. Clearly, no one expects to discover anything. (9)
Whoa there... an Inquisition? (How unexpected!) Borges is taking another chapter from our religious history and squeezing it into his story. It's like he's saying: "Hey, people are the same in every universe. They do crazy stuff."