May Heaven Exist tee
The text on this shirt, "May Heaven exist, even if our place is Hell," comes from a short story called The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges. It's one of my favorite things I've read in a long time, and it really spoke to me in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The story describes a world that's entirely contained within a giant, sprawling library. Nobody's ever been outside of it because there is no outside.
The library contains one book for each and every conceivable combination of letters and punctuation. The vast majority of books appear to be pure gibberish, like "nfh dkjn,lajg cbbn!Jb" type shit. But, necessarily, every book that's ever been written also appears somewhere on the shelves of this library. And, of necessity, there must exist a book somewhere in the library that is a catalog for all the other books, and one that describes (accurately) how the library came to be and why it exists. There must be a book that can decode the seemingly-gibberish ones. Whoever finds these books and reads them would be the god of this library-universe. Only that person could find true meaning in (and of) the library.
But, in order to hold one book for every conceivable combination of letters and punctuation, the library universe must be absolutely massive. It's so big that people could - and did - spend their entire lives roaming the halls and still never even see more than a tiny fraction of the library. And if the accurate master library catalog exists somewhere, which it surely does, then there also must exist millions of inaccurate library catalogs in the shelves. If you found one you'd never know whether it was the one true catalog or one of any number of false ones.
"It does not seem unlikely to me that there is a total book on some shelf of the universe; I pray to the unknown gods that a man—just one, even though it were thousands of years ago!—may have examined and read it. If honor and wisdom and happiness are not for me, let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let Your enormous Library be justified."
100% cotton, designed and printed in West Philly by Toxic Femme. The image has slaughterhouse or prison vibes to it, but it's actually from a 19th century photo of a rose farm building.