Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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 erections extending far up into the sky, so high they challenge God.  As you might expect, God is not pleased with mortal maleness invading his space, and he devises a way to thwart it: 

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 has been happening to us since the election of Donald Trump.  Consider the people you know or meet.  Does it seem that their 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 engaging 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 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.  

What do the people around you think of Trump? Have some been seduced by him?  Maybe they can't admit it.  Just as perhaps you can't admit that you've been partly seduced.  Think about it: After years of feeling trapped in a relentless consumer culture that radiates warmth and comfort while chomping down on the world's previous cultures, replacing them with cans of Screamin' Dill Pickle Pringles, you might, in spite of yourself, like the initial rush of rapid change.  Folk wisdom has cheered us up for years with the promise that Change is gonna come!

Or not. Or you'd better hope not.  Anyway, nuances like these are fairly impossible to communicate in a post-fall-of-Babel society.  [Update, 3/14/20: The sectioning off of human populations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, whatever it does against the virus, will also play nicely into the process of disrupting human communication.  Enjoy a free Internet while you can!]

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 after the communication meltdown his tribe recently experienced [See "All hail Betty" above].

Robert, how are you feeling?

He made no reply.  I saw that he had not entirely recovered from the ordeal. His head hung low; he wouldn't look me in the eye.  I felt him reading my thoughts and asked, more gently,

Robert, do you see anything helpful in my thoughts?

Harry, Robert responded, with a reassuring spark of animation, you're on a similar wavelength to me.  I just scanned your Tower of Babel analogy.  Or should I say Babel of Trump Tower?  The human dysfunction is spreading beyond you.  As you recently witnessed, gilas are losing their grip on social communication.  It's been tens of thousands of years since any of us has felt this isolated.  It's spread to the whole earth, and I don't mean just the part your species calls 'living.'  The atoms and molecules of the earth are feeling it.  We are living in a time bomb.

Haven't we always 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, or 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?


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 challenged the sky god 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 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.