There are two famous parables about eternity. There's the one about the bird and the mountain, and there's the one about the monkey and the typewriter.

I realised years ago that you can easily combine them, but I've never shared the idea because it seems so obvious. There must be hundreds of people who have independently thought of it. But as far as I can tell, no-one has ever written it down. So here goes.

There is a mountain. Very large, very hard.

On top of the mountain is a lone monkey with a typewriter.

Every 100 years (or every 1000, depending on who you ask), a bird comes to see how the monkey is getting on.

And on each visit the bird finds that the monkey has pressed exactly one more key on the keyboard since the last time.

If the monkey has just completed a new copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, the bird checks it very thoroughly to make sure there are no errors. If it checks out, the bird sharpens its beak on the mountain.

If the monkey hasn't completed a new copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, the bird doesn't bother to sharpen its beak; it just flies off.

By the time the bird has worn the mountain all the way down, there is a much larger mountain consisting entirely of pieces of paper covered in gibberish.

And a mountain consisting entirely of pieces of paper covered in gibberish is an excellent symbol, right? You decide what of.

Prompted, but not inspired, by tonight's Doctor Who episode.
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