『BABEL』—人は本に勝てるか

書物には何かが重ね合わされている。


今から約40年ほど未来の世界。
2015年に公開された電子書籍のネットワークシステム、ビブリオテックによって、本のあり方は大きく変わりました。
簡単に言えば、みんなが高性能な電子書籍を使って生活している世界ですね。
そこでは、紙の本の存在のほうが、希有です。

テクスト、画像、動画、音声、感情認識、
あらゆる情報資源を
蓄積、ネットワーク組織化した、
超情報構造体ビブリオテック。

主人公の父親は、そんなビブリオテック計画の牽引者でした。
父親は、ある本を甦らせるため、あらゆる書かれたものを集めるビブリオテックを構想しました。

その本について、

この宇宙は莫大なメッセージで満たされているという。
あらゆるものからなっていて、同時にすべての起源となるようなメッセージ。
その一端をしるした書物(ほん)が存在していたといんだ。
時間も場所も超えて、宇宙の森羅万象が響き合っている書物。

と語っています。

これを読んでいて真っ先に思い浮かんだのは、アカシックレコードでした。

アカシックレコード – Wikipedia

アカシックレコードとは、宇宙の過去から未来、全ての歴史が記された書物のことです。
目の前にあったら、読んでみたいような、やめときたいような。

さて、主人公は、ビブリオテックの<修復>の仕事に就きます。
水に濡れることもなければ、日に焼けることもない。
電子で紡がれた言葉に修復する必要などないように思えます。

しかし、この世界では、パランセブトという不純物によって、文字が読めなくなるという異変が起きています。

BABEL

原因は一切不明。
謎の紋様が本を侵します。

実は、ちょうどこの本を読んだあとに『蟲師』を読んでいて、似たような場面があって興味深かったです。
蟲師には<蟲>という、昆虫ではなく、精霊や妖怪に近い生き物をテーマにした短編集です。

蟲師

この書物に記された文字は、人によって書かれたものであると同時に、<蟲>として生きている存在でもあります。
この文字を書く少女にとって、書くという行為は自身の体を傷つけることでもあります。

最近、少し似たような経験をしました。
手書きで長い文章を書く機会があり、ボールペンで書くとともに、修正液も使えません。

まず、書くという行為が、久しぶりで手が非常に疲れました。
キーボードで<書く>時とは、全く別の感触です。

また、ミスが許されない、という緊張感も、久しく味わっていないものでした。
PCの文章であれば、すぐに間違えた文章はなかったことにできるし、文章の入れ替えも苦ではありません。
そうした、精神と体を総合させて挑む<書く>という行為は、とても疲れるものでした。

このBABELの世界では、書くという行為はどうなっているのだろう?という面にも興味を持ちました。
主人公は父からもらった紙のメモに、ペンで文字を書いているので、まだまだ<書く>という行為は消えていないようです。

手紙だと気持ちが伝わりやすい、とよく言いますが、それは書かれた文字の形に個性や共感を覚えられる、ということだけでなく、<書く>という行為には、自然と強いメッセージが付与されるからかも知れません。
書かれた文字と書き手とが、広く重なり合うのではないでしょうか。

この、<書く>という行為については、書家の石川九楊の本が詳しいです。

パランセプトは、本から人への攻撃なんだろうか。
それとも、何かを伝えたいのか。
文字がメッセージの化身であるように、パランセプトの生みの親がいるのか。
つまり、パランセプトもまた、本の何かを代弁する<文字>なんじゃないか。

そんなたくさんの妄想がわき上がりました。

ビブリオテックが公開されるのは、2015年。
この漫画が描いているのは、本当にすぐそこにある近未来です。

実際、電子書籍はその勢いを増しつつあります。
しかし、同時に、僕は以前読んだ、もうすぐ絶滅するという書物についてに書かれていた言葉を思い出します。

ここでは映画の保存方法についての言及でしたが、映画を保存するメディアが次々と進化していくからこそ、休むことなくその進化を追い続けなければいけなくなる、ということです。
今日、テープに保存された映画をを見るのは至難です。
常にアップデートを続けなければ、データは使い物にならなくなります。

電子書籍にいたっても、kindleを始め、iBooks Authorや、sony tabletなど、多くの媒体が存在しています。
そしてきっと、この先もそれは止まらないでしょう。

似たような話題で、CDが売れなくなった、という理由について以下の言及がありますが、なかなかバカにできないと思います。

CDが売れない理由がわかった!

ビブリオテックは世界の全てを記すことを目的としています。
しかし、そのビブリオテックの、または新しい何かによるアップデートが続けられる限り、情報の奔流は止まらず、人間は永遠にそれに左右されるんじゃないか。
物語の外で、そんなことを考えてしまいました。
しかし、実際にパランセプトによって、ビブリオテックの完全生は崩れつつあります。

まだ1巻が出たばかりで、物語はうねりを生み始めたところ、といった感じでしょうか。
しかし、僕がこんなに与太話を書いてしまうほど、牽引力を持った作品です。

続きが楽しみです。
この本も、現実のこれからの僕たちと書物のかかわり合い方も。

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