Infinity Monkey

Primates and their keyboards.

I’m guessing most folks have heard about the probability theorem in various forms regarding the potential of a room full of monkeys typing for infinity would eventually be able to assemble words in proper order to recreate Shakespeare or the Bible and other substantive works.  Sometimes I’ve heard it is just one poor monkey trapped in this imaginary hell that lasts for all of time.  Sometimes the monkey gets some help from other sad monkeys as they team up to endlessly pound at letters on a keyboard.

The math side of such a proposition is more interesting as a scientific examination of the possibilities throughout infinity versus the actual chances of such feats accomplished by primates without any particular language skills or unpleasant eighth grade grammar classes.  On the literary side of the coin, the implications appear less flattering.  The suggestion being that with enough time, anyone can bang out Shakespeare, or great literature in general.

Math may show those monkeys can indeed accomplish anything with a keyboard.  But why are other crafts left out of the probability exercise?  Can’t we sit around and figure out what monkeys could do with power tools, a pile of sheet metal and a car part store for all eternity?  Could they build a space ship and leave us all behind?

Writing is so easy, even a monkey could it.  Writers simply need time and a keyboard and that is all there is to it.

Of course, that is if we decide to consider such a concept. Putting words in order to make sense and communicate with others is one thing.  However, utilizing words to inform, entertain or evoke emotions from readers is not exactly monkey business. Although it seems, at times these days, that nearly everyone is writing for others.

In the platinum age of information, a Universe where we all can blog, tweet, self publish and selfie ourselves into infinity, the monkey theory may very well be in motion at a slightly more evolved level.  It doesn’t make it easy, it makes it harder.  If nearly all literate members of society have something to say, and as such, if we’re all talking, writing and communicating at the same time — is anyone listening?

Hundreds of channels of television, more movies, books and ebooks than ever before, the process to create among a creative society is daunting and makes it feel like an infinity is needed to accomplish basic goals of finding an audience.

The reality is, this monkey’s infinity is quite finite.  I don’t have the time to worry about whether or not my words will eventually generate something along the lines of William Shakespeare, or Chaucer or my blogger neighbor across the street.

This monkey has a unique perspective on existence. My stories and shared bits with the planet have a probability of similarity, sans guarantee of greatness, but they will be  the letters I selected during my limited time span.

Besides, if I don’t get to assemble not so random words and pound away at a keyboard every single day, I tend to go a little bananas.

2 thoughts on “Infinity Monkey

  1. Good stuff, Donald! An enjoyable read I can relate to, and I like the parallels and distinctions. Despite not missing press deadlines one iota, (kinda took the fun out of it) that last sentence resonates with me.

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    1. Thanks Mark! I concur that 10-15 deadlines a week at The Herald was a lot like work for sure, but I always enjoyed at least half of them. Some of them got a bit perfunctory, especially city council on the news side of things.

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