aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Author’s Note 7: Zizek, Rebbe Again, Communism

Slavoj Zizek on the kabbalistic meaning of Castro’s name. Search for “Yeah, but again” in the transcript.

Of course the Lubavitcher Rebbe had an opinion on the Apollo 8 mission.

Plot-relevant articles: Leibniz and the I Ching, divine simplicity, Atzmus, MENE MENE TEKEL UPARSIN, Attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Larry Speakes, nard, the four levels of the soul.

The descriptions of Hellish government ruining the moral fiber of its people were partly based on the theory that Soviet communism decreased social trust and cooperation norms in people under its yoke. See eg Post-Communist Legacies, Values, and Behavior and The Dynamics And Determinants Of Social Capital.

There seems to be an Unsong Facebook group

The Unsong audiobook is back in business and up to Chapter 11.

As always, if you like this story, please vote for it on topwebfiction.

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19 Responses to Author’s Note 7: Zizek, Rebbe Again, Communism

  1. Anonymous says:

    No fan art this time?

    I kinda hoped for this to appear at some point…

    • It would have if I’d known about it! Where was that posted? Am I missing some Unsong fan art source?

      I’ll put it in next time.

    • The coment king says:

      Awesome. But what, No Uriel?
      Also, I get Malkuth for the Comet King and Chokmah for the Ari, but why is Sohu Tiferet?

      • Anonymous says:

        Sohu, a master kabbalist with the appearance of an eight-year old, can be said to be a metaphor for something outwardly appealing, cute and innocent, and yet immensely powerful; I think Tiferet fits her quite well. Putting her at Binah (or somewhere else on the left pillar) would sort-of associate her with the Left Hand of God, which I wanted to avoid; I also didn’t want to make the replacements too symmetric or too close to each other. I probably might have been able to stretch metaphors to justify putting her at Yesod, but Keter is right out. Replacing just two sephirot with images seemed to me insufficient to replicate the ‘pictures on a chessboard’ theme from the original cover (to be honest, I think it’s still one image too few). And I just really liked this particular drawing. You can consider putting it at Tiferet as a compliment to the artist who drew it rather than a metaphor for Sohu herself.

        I didn’t have a good source for Unsong-Uriel. On second thought, I probably should have put a traditional Uriel as Malkuth instead of the Royal Colorado’s flag.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sigh. Moderation limbo is a harsh master.

        • Anonymous says:

          Untill Scott picks up his slack, here’s a copy of the comment without the links.

          Sohu, a master kabbalist with the appearance of an eight-year old, can be said to be a metaphor for something outwardly appealing, cute and innocent, and yet immensely powerful; I think Tiferet fits her quite well. Putting her at Binah (or somewhere else on the left pillar) would sort-of associate her with the Left Hand of God, which I wanted to avoid; I also didn’t want to make the replacements too symmetric or too close to each other. I probably might have been able to stretch metaphors to justify putting her at Yesod, but Keter is right out. Replacing just two sephirot with images seemed to me insufficient to replicate the ‘pictures on a chessboard’ theme from the original cover (to be honest, I think it’s still one image too few). And I just really liked this particular drawing. You can consider putting it at Tiferet as a compliment to the artist who drew it rather than a metaphor for Sohu herself.

          I didn’t have a good source for Unsong-Uriel. On second thought, I probably should have put a traditional Uriel as Malkuth instead of the Royal Colorado’s flag.

  2. Anon. says:

    >Of course the Lubavitcher Rebbe had an opinion on the Apollo 8 mission.

    This was great.

  3. Nosenada says:

    Just want to say thank you for writing this. I’m at a weird place in my life, but I can tell you, for sure, you were meant to write this story at this time in this internet; c’est la vie.

  4. Kolya says:

    Just something I noticed from Chapter 29: “Thamiel was not used to being resisted.” But by this time he’d already conquered Russia, which was very hard fought…

    • Chuka says:

      Maybe it’s like in newsradio –

      Bill: You think I don’t know adequate sucks? Of course I know. Being called adequate is like getting C minuses in grade school, and I’m not used to getting C minuses.
      Dave: I know what it’s like to get C minuses when you’re used to being an A student.
      Bill: No I got straight C minuses, but I never got used to it.

  5. tcheasdfjkl says:

    Ah, so it’s extra-not-a-coincidence that the Hell country description sounded so creepily Soviet to me.

    • Simon_Jester says:

      The Soviet Union is what happens when you do this by accident. Thamiel’s empire is what happens when you say “hey, this is a promising start,” and deliberately double down on it without doing anything to mitigate the effects.

      So, like, Soviet schools actually *tried* to teach people to trust each other and work for the common good, and the government was on some level trying to make people more prosperous, it was just very very bad at it and easily distracted by the impulse to make shiny new fighter jets.

      By contrast, Thamiel’s schools are actively set up to teach people to hate, betray, and distrust. The government couldn’t possibly care less about prosperity, and nothing will distract it from its mission of making you as miserable as possible without actually letting you die.

      I suspect that this would make things vastly, *vastly* worse.

  6. Daniel says:

    On binary and the I Ching:

    Previously I had been told by Ron Eglash that Leibniz got the idea from the similarly-constructed 16 figures of geomancy, which was quite popular in Western Europe at one time. That seems plausible, but I can’t find a free English translation of Eglash’s primary source (De Arte Combinatoria) so I can’t investigate as far as I’d like. In any case it seems really odd that Leibniz didn’t mention geomancy in the Fu Xi essay, especially since he mentioned it in passing in earlier works.

  7. bean says:

    Of course the Lubavitcher Rebbe had an opinion on the Apollo 8 mission.

    He apparently didn’t know about the bit where Borman canceled a bunch of the planned experiments to allow the crew to get some sleep (starting around 082:40). It would sort of undermine his point. Also, he drastically underestimates how much the astronauts knew about the experiments they were doing.

    • Simon_Jester says:

      I get the feeling that if he’d known about that, and had the transcripts and so on, he could quite reasonably have pointed out “Well, Houston doesn’t know as much about the needs of men on the Moon as God knows about the needs of humanity.”

      The basic point- which is that it is reasonable to accept the need to obey instructions that don’t obviously make sense, when one knows an expert is telling them and there’s a great deal on the line- remains valid. Not ironclad and bulletproof, but basically valid.

      • bean says:

        That was mostly me showing off my space geek hat, and not an attempt to comment on the deeper significance of anything. In retrospect, that was probably futile, given the nature of UNSONG.

  8. Nosenada says:

    So what would the liver of the soul be?

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