Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Babel of Trump Tower

This moment of Donald Trump's ascendancy may have been prophesied in Genesis, 11:1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel.  In the story, the people of Babel wanted to build a tower so high... 

...that it reached to the heavens, so that they might make a name for themselves.    

The phallic imagery suggests a male flavor to the story, of men's erections extending far up into the sky, so high they might challenge God.  

God, as you might expect, is not pleased with mortal penises invading his personal space: 

The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'  

What God did to the people of Babel is what has happened to us since the election of Trump. 

The Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel- because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.  

Think about the people you know or meet.  Does it seem that their inner thoughts are kept from you more than they used to be? It could be they don't know your language any more.  Trump's mix of good ideas with suicidal ones has short-circuited social thought.  The definitions of key terms- like liberal, conservative, right wing, left wing, racist, sexist, spiritual, material, selfish, altruistic- are in such flux that anyone who speaks openly is sure to be misconstrued.  

The subject of Trump, the vortex of our Babel, can no longer be brought up in the lunchroom or often the dinner table. What do the people around you think of Trump? Have some been seduced by the Great Seducer?  If so, they probably can't admit it. Just as you can't admit that you've been partly seduced! Think about it: after years of feeling trapped in a static consumer culture barreling towards oblivion, part of you likes this rapid change.  At last you feel, on one level (not all levels), that things are shifting and maybe changing for real!

Or not. Or you'd better hope not.  Anyway, nuances like these are fairly impossible to communicate in a post-fall-of-Babel society. 

One recent morning, while I was lounging on my front porch in the chilly High Desert, speculating about what comes after Babel, my sometime friend and collaborator Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster showed up, looking pretty ragged.

Robert, long time no see.  Have you recovered from my making you listen to literary criticism? [see next post]  

He made no reply.  I saw that Robert was under stress.  His head hung too low; he wouldn't look me in the eye.  I felt him reading my thoughts and asked, more gently,

What's wrong?

Harry, you're on a similar wavelength to me.  I just scanned your Tower of Babel analogy.  Or should I say Babel of Trump Tower?

Why would you be on that wavelength?

The human dysfunction is spreading beyond you.  Gila's have lost all ability to communicate.  It's been thousands of years since any of us has felt this isolated.  It's spread to the whole earth....

What?

...and I mean not just the part your species calls 'living.'  The atoms and molecules of the earth are feeling it.  We are living in a time bomb.

We always have been.

Yes, but now it's primed.  Communication is the buffer between explosive materials, whether in humans or protons. The buffer is disintegrating.

What do you recommend?

There has to be a movement among humans, maybe underground, maybe with high profile supporters, to communicate in meaningful symbols to restore the buffers.  

Wow, that's great advice!  Let me just call the Antelope Valley Press with this breaking news.

Human sarcasm, I love it so.  Why don't you try to meet me halfway?

How?

Report this conversation, just blog about it if nothing else.  Tell the world that an old hippy and a gila monster met in the desert and discovered that sentient beings of this world can't communicate any more because humans took on God's role and plunged us into language hell.  

Robert, you didn't have to drag yourself all the way to my place just to fill me with hope.

More human sarcasm.  I really do love it.  Anyway, report the conversation. As Kwetch-a-chock-chock-Gwenny, the great gila monster philosopher said, "You never know what can happen!"
 
I found Kwetch-a-chock-chock-Gwenny's words hard to refute, so I've fulfilled my promise to Robert by reporting our conversation.  To quote the human philosopher-poet, Alexander Pope:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast.  

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