Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Tower of Babel: An exegesis in less than 1,000 words


Almost everyone living within the suffocating confines of Western civilization (and beyond, except the American Class of 2014) knows this tale, coming from a blurb in the Book of Genesis and other books: after the Flood, the survivors, sharing one language, decided to build a great tower to impress God. There was a unity of the people, really called "Shinar" in the Old Testament version. But God wasn't pleased with their work, and "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." (King James Version)

Once the tower ended, so too did the city of Shinar, it was over, and the people dispersed. There was no more society, just brigands, raiders, chaos. This is about the fall of a civilization. But why would "God" do this? There doesn't seem to be any logical reason. "God" just wanted to show who was boss. What this is, is allegory, once again.

The Priests and Sovereign of Babylon would do these things, more specifically to the captive tribal Jews, but could also be expected to have done the same to anyone under their sway. The Tower of Babel is about human hierarchy and how people tend more towards unity naturally, but that hierarchy is also natural and that it has a tendency to divide. The Priests were usually the only ones who could read and write, therefore, they controlled language, and they knew how to corrupt its use through religion to render communication between ordinary people almost useless.

That's where we're at right now as a society, a civilization. The Priests--the economists, the rich, the managerial class, the media, rotten lawyers, the military officers, the pundits, and so on--have corrupted language to the point that things are unraveling, society itself is coming-apart. A great deal of it is owed to this manipulation of language. Hierarchy might be inevitable, but its dysfunction can be controlled, my take. I'm sure this isn't the first time someone has "found" this interpretation, I make no high claims.