aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Chapter 16: If Perchance With Iron Power He Might Avert His Own Despair

There’s a story about an old man walking down a beach. He sees a child picking up starfish and throwing them into the water. The man asks the child what he’s doing, and the child says that these starfish are stuck on land at low tide. They can’t survive out of water, so he’s throwing them back in the ocean to save them. The old man says, “But surely you know that there are millions of starfish just on this one beach. And there are thousands of beaches all around the world. And this same thing happens at high tide day after day, forever. You’ll never be able to make a difference.” And the child just picks up another starfish, throws it into the ocean, and said “Made a difference to that one!”

I remember when I told the Comet King this story. He got very quiet, and finally I asked what he was thinking. Still half-lost in thought, he answered: “Even a small change to the moon’s orbit could prevent the tidal cycle. Moving the moon would take immense energy, but the Wrathful Name has the power of a hydrogen bomb and can be written on a piece of paper weighing only a fraction of a gram. The Saturn V has a payload of about ten thousand kilograms, so perhaps twenty million instances of the Wrathful Name…hmmmmmm…no, it still wouldn’t be enough. We’d need a better rocket. Perhaps if you could combine a methane/LOX full-flow system with a prayer invoking the Kinetic Name…” He picked up a napkin and started sketching, and was diverted from his trance only when I reminded him that starfish had evolved for life in the intertidal zone and were probably fine. He flashed me one of his fierce smiles and I couldn’t tell whether or not he had been joking all along.

An enterprising member of the household staff pocketed the napkin and sold it to Celestial Virgin for an undisclosed sum; the Comet King’s partially-completed sketch became the basis of all modern rocketry.

–Sohu West, The Comet King: A Hagiography

October 11, 1990
Gulf of Mexico

Runes of glowing fire troubled Sohu’s dreams, and she woke up the next morning to find them inscribed upon her skin in big dark welts. She ran out of her cottage, almost fell off the edge of the cloud.

“Uriel! Uriel! What’s happening?”

“THE ICE IS CALVING IN ANTARCTICA. I HAVE BEEN BUSY ALL MORNING TRYING TO PREVENT THE ICEBERGS FROM DISRUPTING SHIPPING LANES. IT IS VERY ANNOYING. I CANNOT EVEN REMEMBER WHY I PUT A CONTINENT AT THE SOUTH POLE. NOBODY EVER USES IT.”

“No, to me! Look!”

The angel scanned her with his flaming golden eyes.

“OH. YES. YESTERDAY. WHEN I LET THAMIEL TORTURE YOU. IT WAS FOR…IT WAS BECAUSE…I AM SORRY. YOU DID NOT BLAME ME OR YELL AT ME. YOU TRUSTED ME. PEOPLE DO NOT USUALLY DO THAT. IT WAS VERY STRANGE. YOU TRUSTED ME EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE HURT VERY BADLY. I…THANK YOU.”

“Uriel! The things all over my skin!”

“I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOU. THE OTHER DAY YOU SAID ‘PLEASE DON’T LET ME DIE’. SO I THOUGHT I WOULD DO THAT FOR YOU. NOW YOU ARE IMMORTAL. IT WAS VERY HARD.”

Sohu stared again at the characters on her skin, then freaked out. The angel watched her flail with something between curiosity and discomfort.

“UM. THE WELTS WILL FADE IN A FEW DAYS.”

“That wasn’t what I meant! When I said not to let me die! I meant I didn’t want to die right then! Not I didn’t want to die ever!”

“OH. WELL. UM. IF YOU EVER FEEL LIKE DYING, LET ME KNOW AND I WILL KILL YOU. THAT IS ACTUALLY MUCH EASIER THAN GRANTING IMMORTALITY.”

“Aaaaaah Uriel you don’t understand! Is this going to do something horrible like I’m going to grow older and older until I become shriveled and tiny and turn into a grasshopper?”

“NO. PLEASE DO NOT WORRY. I MADE SURE YOU WILL NOT GROW OLDER.”

Sohu stopped flailing. Now she was very, very still. “Wait. Not grow older at all.”

“YES. IT IS A VERY GOOD IMMORTALITY RITUAL.”

“You mean I am going to be eight years old forever?”

“UM.”

“Uriel, take it back!

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, TAKE IT BACK? YOU WANT TO GROW OLD AND DIE?”

“Yes!” She stopped, a look of horror coming over her face. “Wait! I mean, no! Not now!” Then, “But yes! Eventually!”

“I DON’T SEE WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO AGE. YOU WOULD BECOME OLD AND SENILE AND PROBABLY TERRIBLE AT REMEMBERING KABBALAH.”

“Uriel I know you don’t always understand humans very well but trust me this is really important take it back take it back now.”

“UM, ACTUALLY, THOUGH THE FLOW OF UNCONDITIONED LIGHT EMANATING FROM THE UPPER SPHERES IS IN THEORY PERFECTLY MATCHED BY THE FLOW OF CONDITIONED LIGHT REFLECTING FROM THE LOWER, THE CHANNELS ARE NOT SYMMETRICAL, AND BY A SPIRITUAL LAW ISOMORPHIC TO THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS IT IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO RETRACE A PARTICULAR COMBINATION OF SPIRITTUAL PATHS WITHOUT SOLVING AN NP-COMPLETE PROBLEM WITH A SIZE APPROXIMATELLY EQUAL TO THE NUMBER OF ATOMS IN THE UNIVERSE TIMES THE NUMBER OF DIVINE NITZUTZOT.”

“Are you saying you can’t take it back?”

“MAYBE. SORT OF. YES.”

“Oh god oh god oh god I’m going to be eight years old forever,” said Sohu, and she started crying.

“I AM SORRY.

“You’re sure there’s no way to change this and make me not eight years old forever, or to add back aging, or…”

“POSSIBLY I COULD MANUALLY INCREMENT YOUR AGE ON EACH BIRTHDAY. IT WOULD BE VERY INELEGANT, BUT…”

Possibly?

“UM. I DON’T THINK I AM A VERY GOOD FRIEND.”

“It’s…okay. You…didn’t know…you…tried to help, I guess.”

“YOU SEEMED SO SCARED.”

“I was!”

“I WANTED TO HELP. I FELT BAD THAT I DID NOT SAVE YOU.”

“Why? Why did you let Thamiel do that to me? You said you could have killed him. Why didn’t you just kill him and save me and then you wouldn’t have had to do some weird ritual to me and now I have to be eight years old forever?

“EIGHT YEARS OLD IS NOT A BAD AGE. I HAVE TO LISTEN TO EVERYONE’S PRAYERS, AND THEY BECOME REALLY WEIRD ONCE PEOPLE HIT PUBERTY.”

“Why, Uriel? Why?

“UM. I AM TRYING TO KEEP THE WORLD FROM ENDING.”

For some reason Sohu chose that moment to calm down. As if discussion of the end of the world were more normal, an island of normality she could hold on to. “And why is the world going to end if you kill Thamiel?”

“A LONG TIME AGO THERE WAS A WAR IN HEAVEN. ALL OF THE ARCHANGELS FOUGHT THAMIEL, AND THAMIEL WON. I DID NOT LIKE THIS RESULT, SO I ADDED A NEW STRUCTURE AT THE ONTOLOGICAL BASE OF THE UNIVERSE, A LAYER THAT REINTERPRETS ADAM KADMON. I CONVERTED THE WORLD FROM A SUBSTRATE OF DIVINE LIGHT TO A SUBSTRATE OF MATHEMATICS. THIS PREVENTED ANGELS AND DEMONS FROM EXISTING IN ANY MORE THAN A METAPHORICAL WAY. WHEN THE DIVINE LIGHT ENTERED THE UNIVERSE I CHANNELED IT INTO A RESERVOIR SO THAT IT DID NOT INTERFERE WITH THE CLOCKWORK.”

“And then we crashed Apollo 8 into the edge of the world.”

“YOU WENT BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE WORLD AND RECITED THE BIBLE. YOU INJECTED THE CODE FOR THE ORIGINAL SYSTEM VIA A BUFFER OVERFLOW ATTACK. MY SYSTEM WAS CATASTROPHICALLY DESTABILIZED. EVEN DRAWING ON THE RESERVES OF DIVINE LIGHT I HAD COLLECTED OVER MILLENNIA, I WAS ONLY ABLE TO PARTIALLY STABILIZE IT. SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS STILL WORK, AND THE SUPERNATURAL IS LIMITED TO A FRACTION OF ITS TRUE POWER. BUT IT REQUIRES A CONSTANT INFUSION OF DIVINE LIGHT TO MAINTAIN EVEN THIS LIMITED FUNCTIONALITY.”

“Can your reservoir of divine light run out?”

“YES. AT THE CURRENT RATE IT WILL RUN OUT IN ABOUT FIFTY YEARS. EACH GREAT MIRACLE I PERFORM BEYOND THE RANGE OF MY ORDINARY POWER DEPLETES IT FURTHER. THAMIEL HOPED I WOULD CALL UPON THE DIVINE LIGHT TO KILL HIM. THEN HE WOULD RECOALESCE A FEW WEEKS OR MONTHS LATER UNHARMED. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL HIM PERMANENTLY. HE IS A FACET OF GOD. AND EVERY TIME I KILL HIM TEMPORARILY, IT REQUIRES SO MUCH DIVINE LIGHT THAT IT TAKES YEARS OFF THE LIFESPAN OF THE UNIVERSE. THIS IS HIS PLAN. TO TAUNT ME AND TRICK ME INTO EXPENDING MY RESOURCES AND HASTEN THE COLLAPSE OF THE CELESTIAL MACHINERY.”

“What happens when it collapses?”

“HUMAN TECHNOLOGY CEASES TO WORK. THAMIEL BECOMES INVINCIBLE. THE WORLD ENDS.”

“Oh. So how do we prevent that?”

“I AM NOT SURE THAT WE DO.”

“Can’t you repair the machine? Or get it to run without divine light? Or find another way to replenish divine light? Or something?”

“NO. I HAVE SPENT AEONS OF SUBJECTIVE TIME CONSIDERING THESE POSSIBILITIES. THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE. THE SKY IS CRACKED. THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS IS MADE ILLEGIBLE. THE MACHINE CANNOT BE FULLY REPAIRED. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. EVEN IF I TRIED, NOW THAT THAMIEL UNDERSTANDS ITS PURPOSE HE WOULD CERTAINLY STOP ME.”

“So kill him with the divine light, then do it before he recoalesces.”

“HE IS THE LEFT HAND OF GOD. THERE ARE MANY THINGS HE CAN DO WITHOUT A CORPOREAL BODY.”

“Why? Why does God have a screwy left hand that wants to destroy everything?”

“YOU SHOULD READ ISAAC LURIA.”

“I’ve read Isaac Luria. So what? Why did God allow the vessels to shatter in the first place?”

“THAT IS VERY COMPLICATED.”

“So what? So you’re just going to hang around for fifty years until you run out of charge, your machine goes dead, and Thamiel takes over the universe?”

“MAYBE THE COMET KING WILL COME UP WITH SOMETHING BEFORE THEN.”

“That’s your plan?”

“IT IS A GOOD PLAN.”

Sohu nodded. “Okay. Fair. Waiting for him to come in and solve every problem has always worked in the past. But…still! What about you? Shouldn’t you…can’t you at least try to help?”

“I RUN CONTINENTAL DRIFT, AND GUIDE THE BUTTERFLY MIGRATION, AND KEEP ICEBERGS IN THE RIGHT PLACE, AND PREVENT PEOPLE FROM BOILING GOATS IN THEIR MOTHERS’ MILK. IT IS DIFFICULT AND I AM GOOD AT IT AND IT ALLOWS THE WORLD TO ENDURE THAT MUCH LONGER. I WILL NOT BEAT MYSELF UP OVER FAILING TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE.”

“Matthew 19:26. With God, all things are possible.”

“UM.”

“What? Out with it.”

“I HAVE BEEN IN THIS UNIVERSE SIX THOUSAND YEARS. I HAVE FOUGHT THE DEVIL. I HAVE REWRITTEN THE LAWS OF REALITY. I HAVE DONE MANY INTERESTING THINGS. UM.”

“What?”

“AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING TO CONVINCE ME THAT GOD PLAYS AN ACTIVE PART IN THE UNIVERSE. HIS ROLE SEEMS TO BE ENTIRELY ONTOLOGICAL.”

“You can’t be a deist! You’re an archangel!”

“I AM NOT A VERY GOOD ARCHANGEL.”

“What about San Francisco?”

“GOD CAN HAVE A RIGHT HAND AS WELL AS A LEFT HAND. I SEE NO EVIDENCE THAT EITHER IS CONTROLLED BY ANY HEAD.”

“What about Metatron?”

“A VOICE OF GOD WHO NEVER TALKS. A PERFECT SYMBOL.”

“You won against Thamiel! That was a miracle! Don’t you think that God was involved in that?”

“UM. THE SEPHIROT WERE INVOLVED. THOSE ARE SORT OF A PART OF GOD. BUT THEY WERE NOT IN A VERY ACTIVE ROLE. THEY MOSTLY JUST SAT THERE AS I REWROTE THEM.”

“You know what I mean!”

“GOD CREATED ADAM KADMON, THE FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE THAT BINDS EVERYTHING TOGETHER. HE BREATHED FIRE INTO THE STRUCTURE AND MADE IT EXIST AND MADE ALL THINGS HAPPEN ACCORDING TO ITS PLAN. BUT THAT PLAN DOES NOT FOLLOW OUR RULES OR OUR HOPES. WHEN A HUMAN MACHINE BREAKS – WHEN A PLANE’S ENGINES STOP WORKING, AND IT FALLS FROM THE AIR – GOD DOES NOT REACH DOWN AND SAVE IT. THE STRUCTURE CONTINUES TO ITS PREORDAINED CONCLUSION. I SEE NO REASON TO BELIEVE A FAILURE OF MY OWN MACHINE WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT. IT WILL MERELY BE MORE FINAL.”

“Well, I think you’re wrong. Father believes God will save us.”

“HE BELIEVES THAT HE WILL SAVE US, AND PLANS TO CREDIT GOD. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.”

I believe God will save us! Think about how fantastically unlikely all of this is – the universe, your machinery, everything Father’s doing. You think it’s all a coincidence?”

“YES.”

“Book of Lamentations, 3:24. ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will place my hope in Him.'”

“I DO NOT THINK THAT WORKED VERY WELL, BASED ON WHAT THEY TITLED THEIR BOOK.”

Sohu snorted. “All right then. You’re going to teach me kabbalah. But I’m going to teach you to have faith. How do to knock-knock jokes properly and how to have faith. That’s what I’m going to teach you.”

“I AM SORRY. I AM NOT VERY GOOD AT FAITH FOR AN ARCHANGEL.”

Sohu said nothing. Uriel turned away and went back to running the universe.

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162 Responses to Chapter 16: If Perchance With Iron Power He Might Avert His Own Despair

  1. Alan Robinski says:

    Who’s the Celestial Virgin?

  2. c0rw1n says:

    Oh God Uriel needs a hug.

    • Dirdle says:

      The angels in this story are really strikingly human. ‘A creature that desperately wants to do good, but doesn’t quite know how.’ It’s pretty much always nice to read.

  3. boris says:

    If there’s no evidence of God’s intervention in the world, why do the angels believe in God? How do we know the Divine Light, Adam Kadmon, the Sephirot, aren’t just part of the inherent fabric of reality the way we thought mathematics were?

    • LHC says:

      I am a theist and “God is the inherent fabric of reality, like mathematics” is my interpretation of God, so this is hardly a contradiction.

      • ex says:

        Yes. When evidence fails, semantics can save any belief.

        • LHC says:

          It’s not semantics; it’s analogy to explain why God requires no cause. God’s existence is fundamental in the same way that numbers equal themselves, the ratio of a circle’s diameter and circumference is pi (in Euclidean geometry), and the derivative of e^x is e^x. It’s a misinformed question to ask what caused numbers to equal themselves. It is a fact that describes not a set of conditions but a set of laws.

          • _ says:

            It is nothing but semantics. By calling an impersonal, miracle-less, not-giving-a-shit-about-prayers fabric of reality “God”, you set up a textbook motte-and-bailey; in fact it’s the first example in Scott’s second post on those. You’re basically saying the difference between you and an atheist is that the latter doesn’t use misleading terms for laws of nature.

            Come to the dark side. We have cookies.

          • LHC says:

            Ah, I see the confusion. I’m not saying that God is merely the conventional, nontheistic laws of nature. I’m saying God is natural law (including both natural law accepted by nontheists and natural law accepted only by theists), as opposed to being an ordinary entity bound by natural law.

          • “I’m saying God is natural law”

            What in the world does that mean?

          • LHC says:

            I mean that God has always existed, and this doesn’t imply that God has causal arrows going infinitely far back in time – God has always existed in the same sense that 2 has always been the next integer after 1. The existence of God is a fact, and not a fact about the current state of things. This is obviously not the same type of existence humans (seem to) have, with causal arrows (which go back a finite distance in time).

          • Decius says:

            In what sense are the natural laws a God worth having?

          • rossry says:

            LHC: In what sense is Moloch a god worth having?

          • rossry says:

            Edit: I meant that as a response to Decius, not LHC.

          • Walter says:

            Worth Having is such a bonkers term for God. It’s not like you get a vote, yeah? Is Math Worth Having?

          • Aris Katsaris says:

            In what sense is “natural laws” a thing that we should treat like a person and assign the word “God” to, which traditionally has been used to mean something other than “natural laws” and implies a being with some sort of intelligence and plan behind it, etc, etc?

      • boris says:

        Yeah, I guess it’s not really a meaningful distinction whether Thamiel can’t be expunged from reality because he’s a facet of God or because he’s a facet of godlike natural forces that underly reality.

      • Placid Platypus says:

        Sounds more like deism than theism.

    • hnau says:

      If there’s no evidence of God’s intervention in the world, why do the angels believe in God? How do we know the Divine Light, Adam Kadmon, the Sephirot, aren’t just part of the inherent fabric of reality the way we thought mathematics were?

      Probably for some of the same reasons that *people* with no evidence of God’s intervention in the world believe in God. For one thing, calling something “part of the inherent fabric of reality” doesn’t really explain it. Why does it need to exist? Why is it *this* way and not some other way? An angel seeing the structure and information content of kabbalah might reasonably assume that, like most other structure information, it is the product of a mind. In fact this strikes me as a less demanding assumption than supposing that all the truths of kabbalah just happened to be “part of the inherent fabric of reality”.

      Or, if you don’t like that explanation… maybe angels just believe in God because they are susceptible to superstition, pattern-matching, peer pressure, and so forth. This certainly can’t be ruled out based on what we’ve seen of Uriel.

  4. Sgeo says:

    Thamiel opened one eye a little wider on his first face; the eyes of the second were still glued shut. “I was going for ‘kill him‘,” said the devil, “but your way works too, actually.”

    Does that mean killing Sohu would take a lot of divine energy? Or (more sensibly) killing Sohu would further Thamiel’s objectives in another way?

    • boris says:

      Uriel stared at the little girl sitting in her kayak in the palm of his hand. A quick calculation. If he dropped her, it would take 4.9 seconds for her to hit the ocean surface at a velocity of 48.5 meters per second. Her energy at impact would be 29.4 kilojoules, which was more than enough to break a human skull. The girl’s father wouldn’t even be angry. What had he expected, sending her to him, flaunting a gift no human should be able to have?

      Maybe it’s the divine energy problem… he certainly doesn’t seem to give a shit about her here. But maybe this is before he knows who her father is, though Uriel is as close to omniscient as anything we’ve seen.

  5. YumAntimatter says:

    So, Sohu West, huh? I went through all the previous chapters and the only potential reference I could find was this line from Chapter 12: “The Other King seized Nevada and demanded another toll plus the promise that the train wouldn’t be used to lift the siege of the West children in Colorado.”

    If these are the same Wests (TINACBNIEAC), Sohu may be from Colorado, which is called “Royal Colorado” in Chapter 2. Colorado Springs is also mentioned to be the Comet King’s capital in Chapter 12.

    We also have confirmation now that Sohu is not the Comet King’s daughter, but knew him personally.

    • How does this confirm Sohu is not the Comet King’s daughter?

      • YumAntimatter says:

        Sorry, upon reread, it actually doesn’t confirm anything. I was in a hurry, and didn’t think my conclusions through enough. The thing I was considering was mostly that the quote from her book calls him “The Comet King” rather than “Father” and uses a tone I would not expect from a child talking about their parent. However, there are a number of possible explanations for this, now that I think about it.

        Scott, I would say that you bothering to point this out makes it slightly more likely that she is his daughter, since others would likely have questioned my reasoning anyway, and you didn’t reply to any of the other comments on this chapter so far.

        Apologies to everyone for using a word as strong as “confirmed” without actual proof.

      • Kolya says:

        Mainly because Uriel says “MAYBE THE COMET KING WILL COME UP WITH SOMETHING BEFORE THEN.” and previously in the conversation Sohu had been talking about “Father”. If Father=Comet King it just seems feels *way* more natural that he would say “your father” (but Uriel is an archangel who is not at home with human etiquette, and when Sohu was talking about her father with Uriel, he just said “he”.)

        • rossry says:

          I read “Well, I think you’re wrong. Father believes God will save us.”/”HE BELIEVES THAT HE WILL SAVE US, AND PLANS TO CREDIT GOD. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.” as referring to the Comet King (by content), and also to Sohu’s father (by context).

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Oh, yeah. It could technically be that that refers to someone other than the Comet King, but it’s pretty unlikely.

      • TheWackademic says:

        This confirms that Sohu is not the Comet King’s daughter because it strongly suggests that she is. Then, when it’s revealed that she isn’t, we are supposed to be surprised.

        • Error says:

          Leaving this unspoken kind of irritates me. If they’re identical, Sohu and Uriel both know it. I seem to recall hearing a narrative rule of thumb that you shouldn’t withhold important details from the reader that the characters already know, unless you have a really good reason.

    • Vivificient says:

      I thought the references to Sohu’s father towards the end of this chapter were hinting that she was the Comet King’s daughter.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Based purely on the quote at the start and analogy to Dune, I’m assuming Sohu was married to the Comet King as part of a plan to monopolize the universe’s supply of divine light.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Odd, I took this chapter as confirmation that Sohu is the Comet King’s daughter. When she mentions “everything Father’s doing”, for instance. It seems to make the most sense if “Father” and “The Comet King” refer to the same person. But it is still possible that he’s some other powerful Kabbalist, a “pre-Comet King”, who we haven’t met yet. (And sweeneyrod makes a good point about the Dune analogy.)

      Thought: Could Sohu’s father be Elijah, in some way? I mean, lots of people thought the Comet King was the Messiah, so there ought ot have been an Elijah first, right?

    • Ninmesara says:

      I don’t think we have confirmation of anything, but from the way she writes, it sounds as if Sohu and the Comet King are siblings, and the story happened when they were quite young. They seem to live in the same house, so they are probably family. Fathers don’t (usually) get lost in thought based on stories told by their children. Obviously, Sohu is NOT her mother because when she was 8 years old the Comet King already existed. I can’t figure out who her father is, but probably some king of native American chief that has settled in the Garden of the Gods, which is an appropriate place for someone who owns a flying kayak.

      The other possibility is that Sohu is the Comet King’s wife, as someone has suggested. This is also probable because Sohu says that no one in her family seems to have her gift, while Aaron says in the first chapter that both the Comet King and Sohu have “gazed upon Adam Kadmon bare”, but we don’t know exactly is gazing upon the Adam Kadmon bare is the same as being able to manipulate the letters.

      This is all wild speculation at this point, of course

      • The Warren Peace NFL Report says:

        The Comet King was from Colorado Springs, was he not? And Garden of the Gods is also in Colorado Springs. Coincidence? Of course not! Now if I only knew what that means.

  6. Nuño says:

    The “have are” in “he man asks the child what he’s doing, and the child says that these starfish have are stuck on land at low tide” might be a typo.

  7. ton says:

    I HAVE SPENT AEONS OF SUBJECTIVE TIME CONSIDERING THESE POSSIBILITIES. THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE. THE SKY IS CRACKED. THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS IS MADE ILLEGIBLE. THE MACHINE CANNOT BE FULLY REPAIRED. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. EVEN IF I TRIED, NOW THAT THAMIEL UNDERSTANDS ITS PURPOSE HE WOULD CERTAINLY STOP ME.”

    This better not end in a solution that sounds like it would take less than aeons to think of.

    • Ninmesara says:

      Uriel seems unable to comprehend some aspects of human cognition. He probably neglected to spend part of those subjective aeons trying to understand it, just didn’t think it would be relevant for his problem or might be genuinely incapable of understand them. This doesn’t speak well of the mental prowess of the mighty archangel. Also, he is a sloppy programmer, with questionable development practices, and he as left the universe open to some simple code injection attacks. Given the data we have so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if a clever human might come up with something Uriel wasn’t able to.

      • Yeah, I think Uriel means there’s nothing he can do, since he’s basically just an engineer for this one machine, not that there’s nothing that can be done. He explicitly says the Comet King (and hence probably someone else) may be able to do something he can’t.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Like pass global laws that divert the invisible hand of capitalism to plow virtually all resources into kabllah research to hasten the discovery of the Shem haMephorash and the instant win that comes with it?

          I can believe Uriel not coming up with this.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          That hagiography excerpt was beautiful. Had tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.

    • bassicallyboss says:

      Well, foreshadowing indicates that it will end in the end of the world. That doesn’t exactly take aeons to come up with. But it is also not exactly a solution.

      However, it’s possible that fixing the machine is could be done, but that doing so would require some other phenomenon that Uriel mistakenly believes to be impossible. Something to do with the Messiah, perhaps.

      • Ninmesara says:

        There are bad ends of the world (in which Thamiel conquers the world) and good ends of the world, in which the Messiah comes, defeats Thamiel and creates the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This is kind of what is described in the Book of revelations. The apocalypse has a happy ending.

      • lerjj says:

        Uriel considers a deux ex machina impossible. As readers, it’s merely unsatisfactory.

    • Guy says:

      The solution is almost certainly going to be to replace the machine with something better.

    • Murphy says:

      Uriel is powerful… but the story kind of implies that he’s not very very far above human intelligence even if he can perceive, understand and edit the lower layers of reality.

      A person can see in seconds solutions to a problem that a dog might not see in a lifetime.

      For that matter 2 humans of equal intelligence may not see the same solutions to problems.

      Even more: a human might decide there’s no solution to, say, the problem of tracking someone down without any clues while the dog could simply follow their scent trail without ever realizing that there’s a tough problem to be solved.

    • Galle says:

      I’m pretty sure the solution (if there is one) will ultimately be enabled somehow by Sarah, which would mean you would need at least modern computing technology as a prerequisite for solving the problem, and modern computing technology certainly takes aeons to develop from scratch.

    • lerjj says:

      Maybe the relevant issue is not absolute time but man-hours. I don’t recall how long an aeon is An aeon is only a billion years, so it would only take all of humanity about a year to have “aeons” of thinking time. And llull might cut that down considerably.

  8. Ninmesara says:

    How does the english bible have an effect on reality when recited from beyond the edge of the world? Is this some kind of klipot (security by obfuscation/translation) applied to the hebrew bible? Or is english actually the programming language of the universe (since the universe is runs om ruby on rails, this is actually not a great stretch, as ruby really does look like english sometimes)? Also, can the (fake) stars be seem from beyond the edge of the world? I had understood that they were just a projection on the edge of the world or something like that for the humans to see. Also, if the moon is beyond the edge of the world why is it simulated? Becuase of the tides?

    • Prayers work in (almost) all languages, so as long as it’s not an Aramaic bible, it should count.

      • Ninmesara says:

        > Prayers work in (almost) all languages, so as long as it’s not an Aramaic bible, it should count.

        I think that prayers work because of God and not because of the angels, but it has not been confirmed nor denied. On the other hand, I can see how the fact that angels can’t understand aramaic as being important and useful. It would be pretty cool if the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis were true in this universe and the solution to the End of The World could only be conceived by thinking in Aramaic. This way Uriel can’t find it and Thamiel can’t think of countermeasures.

        • Guy says:

          The thing about Aramaic actually explixitly states that the angels can’t understand it /and therefore/ you should not pray in Aramaic.

        • dsotm says:

          Prayers said within the world are sent to angels for validation and translation into Hebrew before being dispatched for execution in higher worlds (and so can be in any language the angles understand).
          Everything uttered outside the edge of the world goes directly into the instruction stream of the adam-kadmon execution engine whose native instruction set is Hebrew.
          Come on people – this is like metaphysical virtual machine design 101, not some motive-name-propelled-rocket surgery.

    • Yossarian says:

      It could be that to use less computational power the different parts of the world are simulated at different fidelity – say, the Earth is simulated at the finest grain, allowing for all of our known physics, and apparently allowing for human souls. The rest of the solar system may be simulated more coarsely – allowing ordinary matter to exist and pass between the Earth and the outside (meteorites coming in, automatic probes sent by humans going out), but not meant for supporting ensouled beings (I guess when Uriel made the world machinery, he did not think that not only humans are going to abuse Newton’s third law enough to throw stuff beyond low earth orbit, but actually stick LIVE HUMANS on those rockets.)
      …damn, that also could be used to explain what the dark matter and dark energy actually are – maybe, on the galactic scale and the galactic cluster scale the matter is simulated in an even coarser, more economic fashion – and Uriel made a mistake like using a different cosmological constant somewhere in the code for those parts. That’s why we observe dark matter effects on the scale of galaxies and dark energy effects on even larger scales – at such scales, the laws are actually different.

      • Ninmesara says:

        It can be used to explain nearly everything, when humans get too close to the real theory, Uriel just simulates an extra layer of complications just beyond what’s known so far. When humans become too clever again, just rinse and repeat

    • Galle says:

      Applying the basic Kabbalistic principle of TINABNIEAC, all languages are isomorphic to each other. Therefore, all translations of the Bible, into any language, are isomorphic to each other.

  9. dsotm says:

    How did the divine light become a scarce resource here ? Isn’t the universe outside Uriel’s machine supposed to be permeated by it ? There shouldn’t be a ‘reservoir’ of divine light, instead the material world is supposed to be a a reservoir of void within the divine light.

    • Daniel says:

      As I understand it, it’s not just the material world but the entire creation that is in the void, including sephirot, archangels, and klugey physics engines. Created beings like Uriel can’t access the Limitless Light directly, which is for the best because it is a universal solvent!

      • dsotm says:

        We are told Uriel’s work involved blocking off the divine light meaning that somewhere there was a source of it radiating into our world
        If as he says the Apollo mission ‘injected the code for the original system’ then this is the situation that should be restored and Uriel should once again find himself combating undesirable divine light rather than scrambling for existing one to maintain his machine no ?
        That’s why I like the idea that the Apollo astronauts reciting the bible did not in fact restore the original design but rather injected some random data and actually broke the machine that Uriel’s machine was being simulated on.
        Either that, or I’m not approaching the whole thing from the right level of metaphor 🙂

      • warren peace says:

        When you say “universal solvent,” you really mean UNIVERSAL! LOL

    • Aegeus says:

      I don’t think it’s the divine light per se that’s limited, but the amount that Uriel converted into useful energy with his machine (since you can’t touch the divine light directly). His machine is a metaphorical system of vessels, so it makes sense that it not only blocks the energy from our world, but stores it somewhere that he can use.

  10. Daniel says:

    Typo: SPIRITTUAL in “IT IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO RETRACE A PARTICULAR COMBINATION OF SPIRITTUAL PATHS”

  11. hnau says:

    I LOL’d at “buffer overflow attack”. Brilliant. Now we finally understand what happened in the Preface.

    The sky didn’t simply crack because Apollo 8 crashed into it. It cracked because they recited the Bible outside of the first celestial sphere, the sphere of the moon– specifically the language used to create the world and that sphere enclosing it (the “firmament” that Genesis mentions). Uriel would have no reason, and maybe no ability (the spheres could somehow be tied to divine light and angelic power), to exclude the divine light from any sphere besides the first. Or maybe he didn’t expect humanity to ever get that far (i.e. go beyond the Moon), which could be considered an angelic version of “not allocating a large enough buffer”. So the Bible passage *worked*– that is, the words got executed as events in the “machine code of the universe”, a kind of purer form of applied kabbalah (which previous chapters have implied to be equivalent to “hacking”).

    The natural effect of reading the beginning of Genesis in this case would be to restore the original parameters of creation. According to those original parameters, the boundary of the first sphere would be treated as solid, so Apollo 8 crashed into it. And the crash did what we would naturally expect– it “cracked” the sky, i.e. the barrier between the mathematical region and the divine-light region, creating a “backdoor” into Uriel’s system that would allow divine light to flow into it.

    • GCBill says:

      This is helpful, thanks.

    • In other words, in this universe, Uriel increased the buffer size in time.

    • dsotm says:

      THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS IS MADE ILLEGIBLE

      Sounds like they injected random garbage into the code (they recited the Bible in English, duh), the system panicked and reverted to default where possible.

      • Ninmesara says:

        They’ve been injecting english garbage everytime they communicate with themselves and back to earth. So either the text of a bible was a tipping point (you need a certain amount of bytes to trigger a buffer overflow), in which case it was a coincidence or there is something special about the bible. Given what the narrator has been saying for 16 chapters, I guess one of them is more likely than the other :p

      • dsotm says:

        They were injecting garbage because they were outside the edge of the world where supposedly everything that is said is being interpreted as code

        • Decius says:

          It’s worse than that. They were outside of the ‘world’ where there is an ontologically basic mathematical substrate. The prayer was recited in a place where the laws of physics are enforced at the discretion of angels, and the angels know about jury nullification.

      • hnau says:

        Uriel’s powers in Chapter 3 and Chapter 13 seem to work just as well in English as in Hebrew. It seems plausible that the same would be true of creating things directly with Divine Light.

    • Walter says:

      Yeah, that makes sense. The fact that the fatal mission was named Apollo 8 was not a coincidence, because nothing is a coincidence.

    • Autolykos says:

      Yup, absolute genius. And this, kids, is why you should ALWAYS SANITIZE YOUR GODDAMN INPUTS.
      It seems to me that Uriel is generally not very big on observing good coding habits. OTOH, nobody writing production code under time pressure is:
      http://www.stilldrinking.org/programming-sucks

  12. Sgeo says:

    YOU WENT BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE WORLD AND RECITED THE BIBLE. YOU INJECTED THE CODE FOR THE ORIGINAL SYSTEM VIA A BUFFER OVERFLOW ATTACK.

    What would happen if something else was recited, something other than the code for the original system? Would that system have taken over? If so, how do we know that the Bible is the original system anyway? Or is there some weird interaction where something other than the original system would have had no effect?

  13. dsotm says:

    Uriel sounds traumatized, I suspect part of this is owed to the fact that his way of dealing with Thamiel’s victory must not have been very popular with the other (Arch)angles – Consider his original phone call to Nixon where he says that he himself is largely metaphorical at this point.
    This probably means that Thamiel is not the only one whose plans for the world were curtailed by Uriel’s hack and that Uriel himself also paid a price for it, though it doesn’t explain how he managed to remain and play an active role throughout history as other parts in the book suggest (the Bubonic plague experiment?).
    Also, for people with better knowledge of christian mythology – is there a canonical date associated with the heavenly battle and Lucifer’s fall ? If so, where on the biblical timeline is it ?

    • If he was metaphorical, maybe his responsibility for the bubonic plague was also metaphorical, becoming more literal when he did.

    • dsotm says:

      Should we allow for retro-literalization here ?

    • Aegeus says:

      I’m not aware of any canon date – Lucifer/Satan is a blend of various bits and pieces around the Bible. The name Lucifer comes from an oracle against a Babylonian king, the identification with the devil comes from Revelations, the name “Satan” comes from various prophets, and so on.

      Since the devil is identified as the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, his fall probably happened very early on, near the start of the Bible. Which kind of makes sense, if God just set the world in motion and then ignored it from then on.

      Or he may not have fallen at all. Uriel lost the war, and God didn’t intervene, so who could have cast him out? Later books of the Torah depict Satan/The Accuser still active in heaven – the book of Job being the most obvious example.

      As for how Uriel could have stayed active and created the Bubonic plague, maybe the divine light wasn’t fully blocked off by 1350? There are stories of miracles well after Biblical times. The story of the Golem of Prague comes from the 16th century.

      • rossry says:

        Reminder: The Golem of Prague is historical in-universe.

        Alternatively, it was metaphorical, but was re-literalized later.

      • Daniel says:

        Interlude ד: “At some point in the AD era, the Christians decided … to show their deep communion with God by just speaking the Tetragrammaton willy-nilly at random points in their services. Luckily for them by this point Uriel had pretty well finished blocking the divine light”. Based on a quick glance at Wikipedia, the first people to have done this seem to be the Lutherans, in the 1500s.

    • Kinetic_Hugh_Reeve says:

      It’s more of a “Word of Dante” thing. The common medieval speculation was that the war in heaven happened before the creation of earth and man. Anselm and many others went to far as to say the human race was created to compensate for the defection of the rebellious angels. The idea being that there was this perfect number of beings that would be worshipping God. A third of the angels dropped out, so God made Adam and Eve so that they and their children could re-establish the quorum.

      Milton does not outright endorse that whole theory, but he also puts the creation of earth and humans as a response to Satan’s revolt.

      More canonically, the general Christian interpretation is that the Serpent is either the devil or one of the devil’s party, so the Fall of Satan precedes the Fall of Man. Whether that was after Adam’s creation, before, or even in some gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or at some unspecified moment “off stage” from the creation narrative, that’s the kind of detail that any fandom loves to debate.

    • MugaSofer says:

      The War in Heaven is traditionally located prior to the Garden of Eden, as that allows for the Serpent to be Satan. It seems likely that Unsong will go the same way.

      … although that story clearly can’t be literally true in the Unsong universe, given all mentions of God in the Bible are actually Uriel (according to Aaron.)

      It could be raw “code”, given Genesis 1 functioned as code injection and Aaron saw Adam created from clay in his Divine Name intro vision. That would perhaps imply that Let There Be Light et al are all Names, with the Serpent being, what – a Corrupting Name?

      Alternatively, it could be a metaphor/code/isomorph for Thamiel’s place in creation – the Serpent tempts mankind, mankind falls to temptation, and both are punished (with Thamiel falling into both the roles of tempter and punisher here.) But why would Thamiel need to tempt humanity, when he can torture people for eternity if they have even minor sins? And Uriel seems to imply here that evil is a result of the world being un-optimized, not Thamiel.

      Alternatively, it’s possible that Uriel blocking the Divine Light *was* the fall – both the Serpent and Humanity are crippled and cast out unprepared into the “real” world to suffer. This fits the most perfectly, but places Uriel as divine judge, not Thamiel.

      Did he deliberately arrange the breaking of the world in order to enforce entropy and “punish” for the sake of punishment? Certainly, it would fit his modus operandi with the “kill me” routine.

      Alternatively, the War In Heaven occurs in Revelation. Now, Revelation is basically all mystic visions and metaphors, so this could easily be argued as a vision of a pre-Genesis world.

      But it says “the accuser … has been hurled down” – presumably, the very un-bound Accuser shown in Job. If this is Thamiel, it would very heavily imply that the War occurs in the future and all this is radiating backwards

      However, I don’t think this is the case here.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        I don’t think Thamiel in this story is being identified with Satan in the Christian sense; it seems like Scott has made a point of never calling him that. (And none of the characters identify the two in chapter 5 when both are being discussed.) He may be a satan, or act as one, but there may also be others.

      • Ninmesara says:

        Metaphor? Are you saying you don’t believe Adam and Eve were literally tempted by Python into biting the fruit of knowledge?

  14. Angstrom says:

    So San Francisco is linked to RHoG. And calling upon the divine light hastens the end of the world.

    That sounds like a pretty good endorsement of UNSONG’s goals to restrict the usage of the Names of God if I ever heard one.

    • Angstrom says:

      Err, maybe I retract that. Maybe only using Uriel’s strategic light reserve hastens the end of the world, and the Names of God draw from another source.

  15. orangecat says:

    AT THE CURRENT RATE IT WILL RUN OUT IN ABOUT FIFTY YEARS.

    Unix time (in seconds as a 32-bit int) overflows in 2038. Seems like a coincidence, but…

  16. Sniffnoy says:

    Hm… looking at Chapter 12 again now that YumAntimatter’s brought it up — who is The Other King? Is that the Right Hand of God? Seems unlikely, if he once held territory as far out as Nevada (though at least the rough geographic region is correct). Well, we know now that it’s certainly not Metatron. Who apparently exists, but we don’t know much about.

    • boris says:

      Maybe he’s the anti-messiah to the Comet King’s messiah. The Comet King was said to have been born of the heavens, but doesn’t seem to be an angel. Perhaps the Other King was born of hell, but not a demon. Seems possible, especially if the West children were the Comet King’s children.

    • Daniel says:

      The “Other King” is, obviously, the King of the Other Kin, who have been really intense ever since shapeshifting started working.

  17. Daniel says:

    “WELL. UM. IF YOU EVER FEEL LIKE DYING, LET ME KNOW AND I WILL KILL YOU.”

    Uriel you are adorable <3

  18. rossry says:

    Is anyone else confused by the Comet King’s proposal?

    Like, once you get twenty million instances of the Wrathful Name on separate pieces of paper on the correct side of the moon…how were you going to trigger them simultaneously? It’s not like pieces of paper with the Wrathful Name written on them are explosive.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Yeah, I was confused by that too. Some aspect of Names we don’t yet know about?

    • MugaSofer says:

      Perhaps if they were working the same way as Aaron’s scroll of the Thunderclap Name, a single person speaking the klipot in front of them would trigger them all.

      I’m pretty sure written words can “function” independently somehow, though, both because Golems are real and because discussion of the Kinetic and Motive Names seem to imply you can incorporate Names into machinery.

  19. Sniffnoy says:

    “I’ve read Isaac Luria. So what? Why did God allow the vessels to shatter in the first place?”

    The other question Sohu should be asking is, how is it that Thamiel was able to defeat all the other archsngels?

    • rossry says:

      If memory serves, Thamiel was youngest, most powerful, the brightest star… In a computational universe, it’s not inconceivable that the single most powerful archangel is more powerful than all of the others combined.

    • Walter says:

      Unkillable things tend to win wars.

      Less fliply, do we know Thamiel is an archangel? I sort of thought he was his own thing, an aspect of God.

      • Galle says:

        Uriel says, “ALL OF THE ARCHANGELS FOUGHT THAMIEL”, which would imply Thamiel is not an archangel. He was also created for a specific, non-angelic purpose, and doesn’t have the same psychology as the angels. So I’d say that Thamiel is naturally just a demon.

        On the other hand, the notion of the Devil as a fallen angel is so deeply rooted in Abrahamic lore that I’m pretty sure we’ll all go on thinking of Thamiel as one anyway.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        The question is, where is the Right Hand of God in all this? Sitting on the sidelines? Because if unkillability is the reason Thamiel won, you might expect Right vs. Left to produce an endless stalemate instead. And if it’s not due to unkillability but still due to being the Left Hand of God, you’d expect that if the archangels had the Right Hand on their side they would win.

  20. Creature says:

    Idea to deal with Thaumiel (Assuming it can’t be killed or physically/magically contained, humanity cannot hide from it or escape to another universe etc)

    Learn enough about its behaviour, if predictable enough you can at worst fabricate one situation after another for it to do whatever it is that it does and entertain itself at a sustainable rate. This assumes you can keep secrets from Thaumiel and probably make the people enacting those situations unaware of their roles (Or Thaumiel doesn’t care). At best you can have it glitch forever with some implanted train of thought.

    More complicated if it has Free Will.. What does it want? If its desires are incompatible with the death of the universe then Uriel could set up a dead hand system to aid in diplomacy. If it desires just that, or is actually chaotic and more powerful than humanity and it’s allies, everything dies? Unless God does something? Doubtful if this is a deistic or pantheistic universe…

    • Walter says:

      Well, we negotiated with it, after invading Hell, right? He certainly doesn’t act like he lacks free will.

      It certainly seems like the antag is more powerful than team Good. Or, at least, that’s usually the case in stories, right? Otherwise things are pretty boring.

  21. Jason GL says:

    Has anyone figured out why all the chapter titles are from William Blake’s epic work Milton, a Poem? Other than that Blake and Milton were both known for oddball versions of theism? The poem seems really obscure, even by Blake’s standards; it’s not immediately making any sense to me.

  22. Quixote says:

    I liked this one. I think we are finally starting to see how prices fit together and to get hints of how the various elements all work. It’s very satisfying.

  23. Rob K says:

    The way Scott’s been dropping hints about the Comet King’s name rather than just up and revealing it made me think it’s going to be meaningful and surprising. So I spent about 10 minutes browsing the Wikipedia list of people named West.

    …without really figuring anything out. The inventor James West seems possible but unexciting, and it’s highly unlikely that Scott has chosen to weirdly pander to the NBA/Unsong fan overlap niche by picking Jerry West for the job.* On the other hand, would Adam West have looked at the events of this story as a chance to become actual Batman? Or, in an alternative reality, would noted philosopher/public figure/large ego haver Cornel West have decided that the world needed saving and he was just the man to do it?

    *Unless this whole thing is for some reason written from a Lakers fan perspective, in which case Jerry West is already canonized as the great leader who almost but not quite dethroned the evil king Bill Russell, and it would be only natural to have him repeat that role on a slightly grander stage.

  24. multiheaded says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2bL4DGq7Ds incidentally, I can’t stop listening to this

  25. Walter says:

    The Archangel Uriel saying “UM” is the most terrifying thing in the story. Whatever comes next will be dreadful.

  26. Sniffnoy says:

    “Sohu” is missing just two of the letters of the word “South”, namely, a T and an H. If you remove those same letters from “North”, you get NOR, which anagrams to the name “Ron”.

    Prediction: At some point in the story we will meet a Ron East.

    Or maybe a Ron West, I don’t know.

    • Now I’m starting to have complicated theories about Ron Weasley based on “Weasley” looking suspiciously like an amalgamation of east and west. NIEAC.

      • Rob K says:

        after traveling back in time and then between fictional universes and across continents to become Albus Dumbledore and then Comet King, Weasley would naturally adopt adopt “East” as a surname, connoting his old world origins and ties to the past, while giving his children the name West as a way to restore a portion of his family name and reference their Coloradan upbringing. Comet King Ronbledore confirmed.

    • CCC says:

      But Sohu has an H. She’s only missing the T.

      A good cup thereof could change her into a direction.

  27. Leif says:

    The starfish story! I had a book of hippie-ish stories about peace and stuff when I was a kid, and I thought most of them were stupid, except for the starfish story. It’s the only story from the book that I even still remember. Happy to see it here.

  28. Sniffnoy says:

    Quick thought inspired by the seder tonight: Given Uriel’s deism, we have to conclude that most of the miracles and other actions the Tanakh ascribes to God (including the covenant with Abraham!) have to instead be ascribed to Uriel or some other angel. But what about the slaying of the firstborn? The haggadah is pretty explicit that this is God himself and not the angel of death or any other angel.

  29. Aran says:

    the Wrathful Name has the power of a hydrogen bomb and can be written on a piece of paper weighing only a fraction of a gram. The Saturn V has a payload of about ten thousand kilograms, so perhaps twenty million instances of the Wrathful Name

    This is one of the most terrifying ideas so far.

  30. Aran says:

    “Well, I think you’re wrong. Father believes God will save us.”

    “HE BELIEVES THAT HE WILL SAVE US, AND PLANS TO CREDIT GOD. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.”

    Hmmmm. I’ll take this as a strong hint that Sohu’s father really is the Comet King.

  31. Sniffnoy says:

    So I was looking through lists of angels earlier trying to find one who might fit the role of RIght Hand of God, but I couldn’t find anything. Well I was looking again today and maybe it could be the archangel Zadkiel?

  32. Chevron says:

    Quick typo to point out, can’t easily check if others have already done so right now

    How do to knock knock jokes

  33. Anonymous says:

    In chapter 13, Uriel is shows not to be able to understand humour. But here Uriel seems to have at the very least a fair grasp of sarcasm:

    “What about Metatron?”

    “A VOICE OF GOD WHO NEVER TALKS. A PERFECT SYMBOL.”

    And understatement:

    “Book of Lamentations, 3:24. ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will place my hope in Him.’”

    “I DO NOT THINK THAT WORKED VERY WELL, BASED ON WHAT THEY TITLED THEIR BOOK.”

    Being able to tell a knock-knock joke doesn’t seem like a very far leap from that. Admittedly, his earlier lines that could have been interpreted as joking were later revealed to be entirely serious (“THEN DO SOMETHING HUMANS ARE GOOD AT. FALL IN LOVE. START A WAR.”), but I don’t find that particularly believable.

    • Yeah, but after seeing some other angels, it looks like Uriel’s social awkwardness is his own mild autismish thing rather than a property of being an archangel. I can see someone like that having a hard time with knock-knock jokes despite getting some other types of jokes.

  34. Ben Cass says:

    Typo

    “I AM SORRY.

    “I AM SORRY. -> “I AM SORRY.”

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