aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Interlude ב: The Code of the World

For the LORD will work for each type of data it is applied to.
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“The Code Of The World”, by Aaron Smith-Teller
Published in the March 2017 issue of the
Stevensite Standard

The Talmud says that God created the Torah nine hundred seventy-four generations before He created the world. Generations of who, I don’t know. The Talmud is kind of crazy.

But the Torah is basically a few short stories about Creation and the distant past followed by a long and intricate biography of Moses. Why would God care so much about one Israelite guy that He would lovingly sketch out his story long before the first day rose upon the universe in which that guy was to live?

There’s another episode in the Talmud, one where Moses is ascending Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah. God discusses how carefully He wrote the Torah over countless eons, and the angels say – then why are you giving it to this Moses guy? Who’s he? Some random mortal nobody! We’re angels! Give it to us! Moses argues that the people of Israel are sinful and so need it more. The angels accept his reasoning.

But this argument is less interesting for what it says than for what it leaves out. Moses doesn’t say “Uh, guys, have you even read the Torah? Four of the five books are totally about me, personally. There’s even a section describing how God gives me the Torah, in the Torah. How can you challenge my right to have my own biography?”

The rabbis explain this by dividing “Torah” into the historical Torah, meaning the records of Moses’ life – and the legal Torah, meaning the ritual code. God wrote the legal Torah beforehand. The angels wanted the legal Torah for themselves. But that doesn’t work either. Take a look at the legal Torah and it’s all sorts of rules about which kinds of animals to eat and which close relatives are too close to have sex with. This also seems like the sort of thing you don’t necessarily need to have finished 974 generations before you create the world. And it also seems like the sort of thing that angels don’t have to worry about. So what’s up?

Before I propose an answer, a survey of some apparently unrelated fields.

Cosmic history begins deep in the past, but shortly after the Big Bang the universe cooled down long enough to allow mass and the breaking of symmetry into the laws of physics.

Natural history begins deep in the past, but goes into high gear billions of years ago with the appearance of mitosis, the replication process which allowed the reproduction and evolution of all subsequent life. Mitosis replicates and preserves the “genetic code” of DNA which determines animal phenotype.

Human history begins deep in the past, but goes into high gear after the rise of the Mesopotamians, history’s first civilization. Shortly afterwards, these develop the Code of Hammurabi, ancestor of all the law codes and all the states and governments that came afterwards.

American history begins deep in the past, but goes into high gear after the American Revolution starts in Massachussetts. Shortly afterwards, the Americans ratify the Constitution, the law of the land.

Each of these apparently unrelated forms of history starts deep in the past, but experiences a sudden phase change marked by the letters M-S-S in that order, followed shortly by the establishment of a code of laws.

So when we find that the Bible begins with the creation of the world, but experiences a phase change marked by a man named Moses, and then the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, maybe we should interpret this as being about a little bit more than just one guy1.

Gebron and Eleazar define kabbalah as “hidden unity made manifest through patterns of symbols”, and this certainly fits the bill. There is a hidden unity between the structures of natural history, human history, American history, Biblical history, etc: at an important transition point in each, the symbols MSS make an appearance and lead to the imposition of new laws. Anyone who dismisses this as coincidence will soon find the coincidences adding up to an implausible level.

The kabbalistic perspective is that nothing is a coincidence. We believe that the universe is fractal. It has a general shape called Adam Kadmon, and each smaller part of it, from the Byzantine Empire to the female reproductive system, is a smaller self-similar copy of that whole. Sometimes the copies are distorted, like wildly different artists interpreting the same theme, but they are copies nevertheless.

For example, consider the objection that Chinese history does not fit the pattern. Yes, it starts in the beginningless past and transitions into a more civilized form with the arrival of a lawgiver, but that lawgiver is named Confucius, and there is no M-sound-followed-by-two-S-sounds in his name. A sign that the structure has failed? No. Confucius gave the laws, but they did not achieve prominence until they were recorded and interpreted by his successor Mencius. The narrative and phonological aspects have been split into two closely related people2.

Other times two separate people in the Bible get merged into a single character. Consider Moses and Adam. Moses leads the Israelites to freedom, destroys the Egyptian army by crossing the Red Sea, gets the Commandments, and serves as the first leader of the Israelite people. Adam transgresses his Heavenly Father’s commandment not to touch a fruit tree.

But in American history, both these aspects are merged into the person of George Washington. It is Washington who leads the Americans to freedom, destroys the British army by crossing the Delaware, gets the Constitution, and serves as the first leader of the American people. But it is also Washington who transgresses his father’s command not to touch a fruit tree. Further, the Adamic and Washingtonian stories are subtly different: Adam tries to deflect blame (“It was the woman who bade me eat”) but Washington humbly accepts it (“I cannot tell a lie, Father, I cut down the cherry tree”). Thus Israel is born fallen, but America is born pure, a “shining city on a hill”3.

Here we also see the same division between semantic and phonetic4 aspects as in the Confucius example: Washington’s successor was named “Adams” and came from Massachussetts. Note that the Biblical Adam was created beside the Tree of Knowledge, and John Adams was born in Braintree.

Other correspondences are spread even further afield. Moses’ wife was named Zipporah, Hebrew for “female bird”, but her American counterpart doesn’t show up until LBJ. It took all the way until the turn of the millennium before America listened to a bush and then got stuck wandering in a desert without an exit strategy.

Twist and stretch as it may, the underlying unity always finds a way to express itself. If you’re a science type, think of the cells in the human body. Every cell has the same genes and DNA, but stick one in the brain and it’ll become a brain cell; stick it in the skin and it’ll become a skin cell. A single code giving rise to infinite variety. If you don’t understand the deep structure they all share, you’ll never really understand brains or skin or anything else.

The Torah is the deep structure of the universe, and ‘structure’ is exactly the word for it. It’s pure. Utterly formal. Meaningless on its own. But stick it in a situation, and its underlying logic starts to clothe itself in worldly things. Certain substructures get expressed, certain others shrivel away. Certain relationships make themselves known. Finally, you get a thing. Box turtles. International communism. Africa. Whatever. If you’re not looking for the structure, you won’t find it. If you are, it’s obvious.

At the crucial moment in the Hebrew Bible, a man named Moses is born, ordains new laws, and changes the destiny of Israel. If you’re a Biblical Hebrew, then to you that’s the Torah. If you’re an angel, the Torah is something different. And if you’re God 974 generations before the creation of the world, the Torah is all of these things and none, just a set of paths and relationships and dependencies pregnant with infinite possibilities. A seed.

Understand the seed, and you understand everything that grows from it. This is the kabbalah. The rest is just commentary. Super-important commentary. The kind of commentary that’s the difference between a sloughed-off skin cell and a thinking brain.

Footnotes:

1: Moses was supported in his mission by his brother Aaron, who is significant among kabbalists for bearing the Shem haMephorash on his forehead. Mass is carrried by baryons. In mitosis, DNA is helped along by its relative RNA. The Mesopotamians were trading partners and allies with their relatives across the Tigris in Iran. Massachussetts was ably defended by the New England branch of the Continental Army led by Benedict Arnold.

2: The R-N word associated with Confucius is clearly “ren”, his concept of benevolence, which plays a preeminent part in his Analects. The Analects themselves are cognate with mass’ complement energy, mitosis’ anaphase, Mesopotamia’s Anunnaki, and Arnold’s Canada campaign.

3: The original “city on a hill” was Jerusalem, with its Temple upon Mt. Moriah. As per the Bible, King David bought the Temple site for 600 shekels and King Solomon decorated it with 600 talents of gold; King Herod later rebuilt it 600 feet by 600 feet in size. The name of America’s capital Washington is followed by “DC”, which is Roman gematria for 600.

4: We can analyze the name “George Washington” as follows: “George” means “farmer” in Greek, which is clearly related to the name “Adam” meaning “dirt” in Hebrew; Adam was banished from Eden and sentenced to “till the dirt from which he was made”. “Washing” means “to place under water” in English, which mirrors “Moses”, meaning “to draw out of the water” in Hebrew. But “washing” also means “to cleanse”, and “ton” means town referring to the polis or state. So “George Washington” references similarities with both Adam and Moses, but also contains an additional meaning of “the one who cleanses the state”, ie purifies it from corruption and foreign influences.

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123 Responses to Interlude ב: The Code of the World

  1. John says:

    Is anyone else’s daily internal monologue feeling very like the description of kabbalah right about now?

    If it is then it’s meant to be of course.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Well, yes, but in my case it totally makes sense. I *coincidentally* finished reading Robert Anton Wilson’s *Cosmic Trigger* a day before Scott started publishing Unsong.

      • Error says:

        Heh. I was thinking it reminded me of the Illuminatus, and “I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”

        • Deiseach says:

          “The Hobbit”:

          “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something (or so Thorin said to the young dwarves). You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

    • nope says:

      When I’m hypomanic I get the *~*EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED*~* feeling. Maybe you’re hypomanic.

  2. Deiseach says:

    Very clever. I did some eyebrow-raising about “American history begins deep in the past” but sure, the continent of America is part of the physical world and geological time applies just as evenly there 🙂

    Are you (or rather Aaron) by any chance going to work the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel living in (North and/or South) America into this?

    • I think Native Americans count as American history. At least they’re taught as such in school.

      • Deiseach says:

        I am wondering if including Native Americans is completely free of problems, though. Yes, on a history of “inhabitation of the Americas”, they certainly count as “deep history”.

        But unless the Untied States of this Earth have managed to integrate them into its society and government in a way our world has not, then using them as an example of the long continuous human history of American civilisation is a little – shadowy.

        It reminds me of the “Don’t mention the war” attitude exhibited at a pageant at a Church of Ireland cathedral I attended. Started off with 6th century monastic foundation of the church, skipped gaily along up to the 12th century and the Normans, then suddenly we were in the 17th century and Cromwell.

        Because, of course, acknowledging how it happened that this was no longer a Roman Catholic church but in the possession of the Church of Ireland would have meant including the Norman invasion of Ireland, the dealings of Henry VIII and the monarchs after him, and the whole Series of Unfortunate Events.

        So by tactfully declining to cover five centuries or so, we were all invited to pretend that there had been an unbroken, continuous occupation and possession of the building and the settlement that had never changed in nature (apart from a little bit of pruning away foreign mediaeval accretions that had encrusted the liturgy and such).

        Hmmmmmm 🙂

        • Deiseach says:

          American history begins deep in the past, but goes into high gear after the American Revolution starts in Massachussetts. Shortly afterwards, the Americans ratify the Constitution, the law of the land.

          You see, the Americans who crossed the Siberian land bridge (if we’re still accepting that hypothesis?) and are the start of your “deep in the past history” are not quite the same Americans of the Revolution, and they certainly weren’t ratifying any Constitutions (all corrections to the contrary welcomed) 🙂

        • Argent says:

          > But unless the Untied States of this Earth have managed to integrate them into its society and government in a way our world has not, then using them as an example of the long continuous human history of American civilisation is a little – shadowy.

          The founding fathers were heavily influenced by the Iroquois Confederacy, and their Great Law of Peace was one of the sources of the Constitution.

          • Deiseach says:

            Can I get a citation on that? It’s fascinating if so, but I’ve been burned a few too many times by “Beethoven was black and ancient Greece was black and [civilisation of choice] was [making advanced progress of choice] when Europeans didn’t even have soap” claims that get splashed about, that have me reflexively doubting even so harmless a claim as “The USA sought sympathetic hearing from France when disputing with England” 🙂

          • Argent says:

            Reply to Deiseach:

            H. Con. Res. 331 (Oct 5 1988):

            “To acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution and to reaffirm the continuing government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the United States established in the Constitution.

            “Whereas, the original framers of the constitution, including most notably, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, are known to have greatly admired the concepts, principles and government practices of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; and

            “Whereas, the Confederation of the original thirteen colonies into one Republic was explicitly modeled upon the Iroquois Confederacy as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the Constitution itself; […]”

            http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/hconres331.pdf

          • Argent says:

            (cont)

            Even if the house resolution was exaggerating, it’s certainly legitimate worldbuilding to make it an explicit component of the Untied States Constitution. ^^

  3. Ninmesara says:

    So much win…

    > It took all the way until the turn of the millennium before America listened to a bush and then got stuck wandering in a desert without an exit strategy

    Is there any relationship between the names Aaron Smith-Teller and Aaron H. Schwartz, who died prosecuted by the government for trying to set free the carefully kept knowledge of the Massachussets (See? Nothing ever is a Coincidence!) Institute of Technology?

    • Ninmesara says:

      … While Aaron ST sets free the names of god for everyone to use?
      [can’t edit my own comment]

    • zensunni couch-potato says:

      That’s a good catch. I’m also guessing that each component of his name is going to mean something.

      Also, in trying to figure out the gematria of AST’s name I found this handy-dandy Gematria calculator.

    • Aw, don’t tell me you guys have never heard the bush joke before.

      • Jack V says:

        That’s a standard joke? I kind of thought it only worked so well after 3000 words of build-up kabalah 🙂

        • Alsadius says:

          I suspect the standard build-up is more to the effect of “It’s no wonder Republicans like Israelis” or something.

      • Ninmesara says:

        I certainly had never heard of this joke before, but (1) I am not American and (2) I am neither Jewish nor do I know anyone who is in real life. I think this kind of removes me from the demographics to which the joke makes sense.

        Of course, I are extremely exposed to American culture, including TV shows made or taking place in a city where 1 in 8 people are Jewish.

        And as @Jack V said, this probably only works “after 3000 words of build-up kabalah”. It certainly worked on me!

      • Aegeus says:

        I’ve heard it before, but I’m Jewish, so I’m in the right demographic.

      • Linch says:

        I read it when I was around 12 and I’m not Jewish. But I was also the type of kid who obsessively collect jokes, so take it what you will.

  4. M.C. Escherichia says:

    Good stuff. But I must object to this abuse of the term mitosis, which is not just any genetic replication, but specifically the type of cell-division used by Eukaryotes, and so comes well after the emergence of the simplest life as we know it, bacteria.

    • Marvy says:

      Still, you could argue that his point still stands. Life didn’t really go into high gear until the Eukaryotes showed up.

    • Terdragon says:

      I agree about the abuse of the term ‘mitosis’. I figured I’d let it slide, though – the character writing this wasn’t majoring in biology, after all.

      • Hmmm…maybe I’ll just change it to physics and go with mass, baryons, and energy.

        • Mr. Eldritch says:

          You could actually keep that paragraph almost the same by going for [i]meiosis[/i], which is critical for [i]sexual[/i] reproduction, and say that allowed the development of complex, multicellular life through increased genetic diversity.

  5. This is (somewhat) off-topic to the text, but did the Mesopotamians call themselves that?

  6. Zhid says:

    A small correction:
    > “Israel” is yud sin resh aleph nun
    The last letter is lamed (=30) rather than nun (=50).
    (541 is obviously correct though)

  7. ton says:

    “Adam transgresses his Heavenly Father’s commandment not to touch a fruit true.”

    Touching truth is always dangerous.

  8. What does this imply about Ludwig von Mises?

    • Kevin says:

      He’s considered one of the fathers of AustRiaN Economics, so you have the RN correspondence as well. Clearly he was the state change for the understanding of economics.

  9. Nomghost says:

    “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Attributed to Mark Twain, though no evidence he ever actually uttered these words, the quote seems to mysteriously appear in print in 1970. The sum of those numbers is 17. There are seventeen elementary particles in the standard model of physics. OH MY GOD.

  10. Anon says:

    “And if you’re God 974 generations before the creation of the world, the Torah is all of these things and none, just a set of paths and relationships and dependencies pregnant with infinite possibilities. A seed.”

    Seeds are used in other things. Like… for example, pseudorandom number generators have seeds – the seed value of a random number generator determines all numbers that come thereafter. A seed value of an encryption needs to have high amounts of entropy or it will be trivial to find the values used for the encryption.

    In Unsong, did God create the world as a transformation of a pseudorandom encryption somehow, such that saying the True Name will be identical to finding the seed of the pseudorandom number generator? By successively encouraging people to decrypt that seed and find his true hidden name as a method of finding the true seed value from which the rest is generated, by rewarding them as they come closer to the True Name of God with his various Names, could God be effectively using them to do really difficult arithmetic? If you had functionally infinite processing power, setting up a simulated world where people can achieve temporal power by knowledge of kabbalistic names could be a way of getting them to do your thinking for you to find the ultimate hidden name of god. The whole ‘we know the length of the key, but not it’s content’ feels very reminiscent of decryption analytical stuff to me. Could God in this case be a computer programmer?

    *rampant speculation intensifies*

    • Decius says:

      Any PRNG that repeats itself is trivially predictable given enough output. Any PRNG that doesn’t halt or repeat itself will, at some point, produce a constructive proof of how to predict future output.

      • Marvy says:

        Um, is this supposed to be obvious? At first I thought the first part was, but now I don’t even see that. For instance, consider the lousy PRLG (pseudo-random letter generator) that repeats the following sequence forever: abcabcabz. If you see only the first 8 letters, you’ll be pretty sure that you can predict the 9th. You’ll be wrong though. Eventually, you’ll have seen hundreds of letters, and you’ll have figured out the pattern. But how sure should you be that you got it right? The trouble is that you don’t know the period of repetition, and as long as the RNG is a black box you never will. What did I miss?

        As for your other claim: ?!?!

        • Izaak Weiss says:

          Yes, but clever statistical models can give us reasonable confidence levels for how sure we ought to be that the next value is what we predict it to be, and as time -> infinity, confidence level -> 1.

          However, it would certainly take a LONG time.

      • DanielLC says:

        > Any PRNG that repeats itself is trivially predictable given enough output.

        In practice, yes. In principle, there’s nothing stopping it from repeating itself a googolplex times before changing to a new pattern. You can never know when it started repeating itself. Although in practice, it might not repeat itself before the universe ends.

        > Any PRNG that doesn’t halt or repeat itself will, at some point, produce a constructive proof of how to predict future output.

        Not necessarily. For example, take such a PRNG, but remove every such proof from the output. It’s probably still not going to repeat itself.

        Also, such a proof is impossible without knowing how the PRNG works, and if you do you can predict the output by running it.

        • Decius says:

          “Every string representing a proof of X” is isomorphic to “Every string long enough to contain a proof of X”, which is isomorphic to “Every string containing as many bits as any proof of X”.

  11. anon says:

    Fellow readers might be interested in Time & Chance, a book very much like Unsong except that it’s completely serious, as far as I can tell. Gematria, apophenia, parallels between the Bible and American history, the works. http://www.scribd.com/doc/291559060/TIME-CHANCE-RLNY

    hi.

    THIS IS THE APOCALYPSE IN ONE WORD

    wow.

    That stands for walk on water. In “langolier.” It is not an outlier. Our culture is literally the manifestation of God’s truth, leaping out of the Bible and proving his influence and guidance with every saying, in every word. He walked on water in the year 1492, that’s ADIB to introduce my initials to the world in a letter to number conversion–that’s gematria.

    ha’esh

    This is the sea that he parted in Exodus, and unites in Egypt–through his son Horus. Just another name for Ra, the Son God. Prometheus too, immaculately conceived, gave us all his fire through me: it is the word above, which means holy fire.

    The fire is about to start, it is proof that language comes from above, and our civilization is the “voice” emanating from the Burning Bush. We are the voice of God, the Horn

    of Revelation.

    The word langolier, coined by Stephen King in his novel about about time travel is short for “language of liers. Though I don’t know if he is aware of God’s definition. The “ph” in Christopher stands for “Pursuit of Happiness” and reinforces his link to the beginning of America in his name. My name is Adam Dobrin, that’s “AD” for short, or “n” in langolier compression. It is the lil’n of the word “Horn.” Humanity is the big H. I am messiah. rU?

    The word ha’esh indicates foreknowledge of the English word “ash” as well as the content of the story of Exodus, in which it is used–by including a microcosmic reference to the parted sea.

    THIS IS CALLED A PARADOX

    This information is intended to be used, by the will of God, in order to prove that our world is in Heaven, and we can magically manipulate reality, just like the Matrix. This book attempts to

    EXPLAIN Y

    That why is the source of Doctor Brown’s true inspiration. It is

    the glowing Fluxx Capacitor.

    I AM Adam Marshall Dobrin.
    BY NO OTHER NAME

    • > “The ‘ph’ in Christopher stands for “Pursuit of Happiness” and reinforces his link to the beginning of America in his name.”

      Bah, the correct kabbalistic interpretation of “Christopher Columbus” is that Christopher = Christ-bearer, and he was the one who brought Christianity across the sea to the New World. Columbus = dove = a symbol of peace, which he brought in the sense of “You have made it a desert and called it peace”. But anyway, his real name was Cristobal Colon; a colon is a punctuation mark used to join two parts together, which was also Columbus’ greatest achievement.

    • Deiseach says:

      Apparently west/south-west Britain and south-east Ireland are the basis for not alone Plato’s story of Atlantis but the Biblical story of the Flood.

  12. 75th says:

    (The rest of this comment may be badly formatted, I’ll reply to it with a better version if it is)

    Each of these apparently unrelated forms of history starts deep in
    the past, but experiences a sudden phase change marked by the letters
    M-S-S in that order, followed shortly by the establishment of a
    code.

    It has a general shape called Adam Kadmon, and each smaller part
    of it, from the Byzantine Empire to the female reproductive system

    Female reproductive system is menses followed by puberty, obviously. What’s the Byzantine Empire example? A brief skim of the wiki article yields, perhaps, the Macedonian(Emperor)s, followed by a resurgence and the theme system?

    Moses’ wife was named Zipporah, Hebrew for “female bird”, but her
    American counterpart doesn’t show up until LBJ.

    His wife was known as “Lady Bird”

    Finally, you get a thing. Box turtles. International communism.
    Africa. Whatever.

    Hrrrnnggg. I think this book may require a bit more work than HPMoR did

    • 75th says:

      menses followed by puberty, obviously

      On further thought, I think when I said “puberty” I should have just said “her monthly period”

    • Given that it has to be followed by the establishment of a code, I would say that conception (in which a new genetic code is created) works better than the period.

      I don’t know that much Byzantine history, but the obvious candidate for me seems to be the rise of the Muslims, followed by the establishment of sharia law in conquered territories.

      • Adam Casey says:

        The real start of Byzantium down the path of Emperor-overseeing-batshit-religious-disputes starts with the Acacian schism. Byzantium goes down the path of MiaphySitiSm. The next emperor is Justinian, whose law codes are famous for millennia after.

  13. Terdragon says:

    Oh gosh. Aaron R-N and Ana A-N-A … but who is M-S-S? Reverend Stevens, perhaps? I don’t remember his first name.

    • You’re asking the right questions, so a hint: this is a Jewish-themed novel about the End Times.

      • Azriel says:

        So… The Messiah, then, I suppose.

        • Ninmesara says:

          It was my first choice, but don’t think Messiah is strictly appropriate… After all I think that the critical think about the M-S-S combination is that the S sounds must be distinct, otherwise (1) it is too artificial and (2) the example “Mencius” (2 “s” sounds but only one “s”) is inconsistent.

          I think the M-S-S combination must be phonetic and not only orthographic according to the examples given by Aaron/Scott (Scott Joel Aaronson which can be interpreted as “Scott son of Aaron” and SJA [Social Justice Antagonist]; coincidence?), and to the sentence: “M-sound-followed-by-two-S-sounds” used by Aaron.

          Allowing the letter combination “ss” to count seems too much like cheating. On the other hand, you might be right and I might just be too inflexible for a kabbalist.

          • Ninmesara says:

            Just noticed that Mass seems to count as a valid M-S-S word…
            Ok, turns out it is not neccessarily phonetic after all…

          • Decius says:

            MaSSachuSettS counts…

          • Ninmesara says:

            @Decius: What do you mean?
            Yes, Massachussetts counts, both phonetically and orthographically. My point is that until I noticed “mass” (made up from baryons, etc.), all words had two S sounds. Mass is the only one that has two S letters but only one S sound.

          • Jack V says:

            I also wondered if the rule was “have M, S, S if you wrote it in hebrew letters”, but I don’t know if that would actually fit all the examples or not.

          • Aegeus says:

            Any non-Hebrew name written in Hebrew would be a transliteration, so it would still have the “M-S-S” pattern.

            However, Moses himself would not fit the pattern! In Hebrew, he’s “Moshe” (מֹשֶׁה). Does God speak English?

          • null says:

            To expand on your non-coincidence, Scott Aaronson’s wife is named Dana.

          • 75th says:

            The plural, “Messiahs”, fixes this problem. See the conversation here (SPOILERS up to Chapter 22).

        • Muga Sofer says:

          In Christian theology, the Messiah is considered to be a new Adam. Aaron cast the spell used to create Adam on himself.

          Anyone who dismisses this as coincidence will soon find the coincidences adding up to an implausible level.

      • Anon says:

        Based on this and that biblical Aaron had the Shem haMephorash on his forehead, am I correct in guessing Aaron will discover the true name and become the Messiah?

  14. C says:

    > a sloughed-off skin cells
    some sloughed-off skin cells?

  15. J says:

    Bush may have led us into the desert, but at least he provided us with Quayle, roasted with potatoe.

  16. Max says:

    “George” is Greek, not Latin.

  17. Vladimir Slepnev says:

    Check out Ilya Shkrob’s In The Beginning, it’s a serious attempt to reconcile the biblical six days of creation with science and it’s better than it has any right to be.

  18. Jack V says:

    Oh cool, that’s scarily persuasive…

  19. Quixote says:

    Another good one. Thanks!

  20. greenergrassgrowing says:

    We’re seeing a lot of classic SSC characters, here. It makes me wonder if Moloch will be making an appearance.

  21. Alsadius says:

    Just how much time does it take coming up with all this kabbalistic coincidence stuff to put in the story? Or are you taking it from real-world kabbalists?

  22. fireant says:

    The Study of Anglophysics II

  23. Lambert says:

    ‘3: The original “city on a hill” was Jerusalem, with its Temple upon Mt. Moriah. As per the Bible, King David bought the Temple site for 600 shekels and King Solomon decorated it with 600 talents of gold; King Herod later rebuilt it 600 feet by 600 feet in size. The name of America’s capital Washington is followed by “DC”, which is Roman gematria for 600.’

    Well there’s your 10 minutes.

  24. Anon says:

    What, no Aaron Burr?

  25. pku says:

    Wait, so does this universe have the big bang? I thought it had the celestial sphere instead.

    • Ninmesara says:

      Maybe god simulated the universe accurately in the beginning but has now played Kerbal Space Program, lost access to computer time and resorted to simulating gravity via spheres of influence. Maybe near the intersections of the spheres of influence there are some bugs he still needs to fix. The need to use a simpler algorithm for cosmic orbits might be related to my wild speculations here.

    • There is a celestial sphere, but that appears to have been invisible.

    • Mr. Eldritch says:

      My best guess: The universe was dramatically scaled-down to save on budget. (After all, he had only seven days to finish the thing). So the world was created, Omphalos-Hypothesis style, after having already designed these nice laws of physics and having simulated a bunch of cosmic history; God only actually had the resources to build a small interesting portion of it, and the world outside was simulated.

  26. Michael says:

    Just a quibble, but Mencius doesn’t actually work, since that’s just a latinization of Mengzi, which doesn’t fit at all.

    • And Moses is just a Latinization of some Egyptian name or other, conjecturally ‘mwse’. Why couldn’t the same cosmic factors influencing Moses’ and Mencius’ parents to give them those names also influence their translators?

      • Susebron says:

        More importantly, this correspondence would almost certainly not hold in any language other than English. I would consider it exceedingly unlikely that English happens to be the one language containing all of the instances of a particular Kabbalistic structure.

      • -b- says:

        Well, it’s actually the Latinization of the Hebreicization of the Egyption. Where the Hebreicization is “Moshe”, which still doesn’t work.

        It’s what Susebron said: these don’t work in any frigging language other than English. (And are a bit America-centric. Where’s the Magna Carta in this? And that’s still basically American history.)

        The single most important statement about doing Gematria is that Hashem wrote the Torah, and so the Torah is able to contain an INFINITE amount of information. (And specifically, wrote the Torah in Hebrew, in specifically the Hebrew we have today, which is totally the exact Hebrew Moshe got from Har Sinai, nevermind that the checksums don’t match up…)
        In Islam, if I recall correctly, they.go even further and SPECIFICALLY EMPHASIZE that the Quranic Arabic is divinely created, and in fact you have not “read the Quran in English” but “read a translation of the Quran into English”, i.e. that was not the actual Quran that you read.

        Both of these have very strong explanations for why they can go infinitely deep looking for thing — God personally wrote those versions.

        If you want to do it in English, then you need SOME strong explanation for “why English”.

        And “well God controls everything” is not enough, because that requires you to say “free will doesn’t exist”, and have that be accepted by an entire field of philosophy in less than 50 years.

        There are possible reasons, maybe — it works in English because that’s when/where the Apacolypse starts and thus where that information is needed (vaguely similar to that one part of Goo Omens). And probably others as well. But there needs to be A REASON. (preferably a good one.)

        • Deiseach says:

          If you want to do it in English, then you need SOME strong explanation for “why English”.

          American Exceptionalism. The Puritans (and under this heading I am pretty much lumping in all the Non-Conformists, even if various groups would have vehemently disagreed one with another) were very big on the idea of the New Israel.

          If Roman Catholicism (and guilt by association Anglicanism, Lutheranism in its Continental form, etc.) was Babylon, then the Reformed (again, using a label for a whole bunch of disparate types) were called to come out of Babylon and be the New Israel.

          Since God can know that America will be the new Promised Land, and that English (and not Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, German or Swedish) will be the tongue of the New World, then these kinds of equivalences that only work in English can be encoded deep in history to be worked out when the time comes.

          (As to “why English”, some of the King James Only types do indeed believe that translation was divinely inspired and is the only acceptable Bible in English).

          • Peter D Jones says:

            Speaking of KJV based English language gematria…I once got into a usenet debate on the subject, which quickly degenerated due to the unforgivable rudeness of one of the participants, namely myself…

            ———————————————————

            In article ,

            Gematria wrote:
            > Gematria is the substitution of numbers for letters of the alphabet,
            > according to a set system. This method of exegesis has been used since
            > the time of the Second Temple to derive insights into the sacred
            > writings, to obtain interpretations of the text, or to illustrate a
            > secular matter.

            speaking of which….

            G E M A T R I A
            7 +5 +13 +1 +20 +18 +9 +1 = 74

            S H I T H E A D
            19 +8 +9 +20 +8 +5 +1 +4 = 74

            (sorry, but as the Samurai said, “the angle was perfect…”)


            Regards,
            Peter D Jones
            Brighton, UK

        • There will be further explanation of this later on, but the short answer is that every human language is structured similarly to Adam Kadmon but in different ways, the same as everything else. The same process would have worked (with slightly different examples) in Hebrew, Greek, or Proto-Turkic. But Aaron is a native English speaker so he uses English examples.

          • Loweeel says:

            I was always tickled by the conceit by Madeleine L’Engle (the one where Sandy and Denys get sent back to the pre flood Bible world) that English was the pre-Babel language.

  27. Sergey Kishchenko says:

    Cutting cherry tree story was apparently invented by Mason Locke Weems.

  28. This chapter inspired me to write up my own kabbalistic conspiracy theory regarding the founding of the United States.

  29. Anon says:

    > “Uh, guys, have you even read the Torah? Four of the five books are totally about me, personally. There’s even a section describing how God gives me the Torah, in the Torah. How can you challenge my right to have my own biography?”

    It’s driving me crazy. I swear I’ve heard/read that quote almost verbatim before. Is that from somewhere/someone?

  30. Zippy says:

    “The Code Of The World”, by Aaron Smith-Teller

    Published in the March 2017 issue of the Stevensite Standard

    • Zippy says:

      (Furthermore, “Standard” contains the letters AR on its own, so Aaron is free to save his name’s kabbalistic significance for something more important.)

      (I wish there were the option to edit…)

      • Zippy says:

        Furtherfurthermoremore, it is more aesthetically pleasing to partition Standard off as the AR word, because a “standard” in this case is something high up that bears important words, much like Aaron’s forehead.

        What follows after the phrase “Published in the March 2017 issue of the Stevensite Standard” is, of course, the establishment of a code. Both in the sense that it describes the rules that kabbalah follows and, more specifically, that it establishes “a set of letters, numbers, symbols, etc., that is used to secretly send messages to someone” (Merriam-Webster).

        Presumably, the month of March was picked over May by Mr Scott S Alexander (Who, let us not forget, goes into high gear in 2013, after he decides to start placing his important words in a Codex. (Scott also decided to enlarge his forehead in 2012 by shaving his head. (Do not mock him about it or this will turn into an Elisha parallel but with polar bears for some reason.))) because it also contains “ar”.

        (Scott currently plays the role of God in the story, making sure that these things happen. Or perhaps this particular instance of the pattern was orchestrated, in universe, by the person who chooses when to run what in the Stevensite Standard)

        (No points will be awarded for noting that Slate Star Codex also almost fits this pattern, because it is merely a reshuffling of Scott’s name. However, the “n” in Scott S Alexander was the only letter dropped, and N’s are fairly similar to M’s. Scott has stated that he thus put the “n” in the logo of SSC, to “restore cosmic balance“.)

  31. Jacob says:

    I did a quick ctrl+f for “Mass” and I couldn’t see any objection to this elsewhere: saying mass is contained in Baryons seems entirely disingenuous. The basic story is this: there are two kinds of stuff, fermions and bosons. Some bosons have mass, let’s ignore that. Fermions come in two types, leptons and quarks. All leptons have mass, let’s ignore that. Quarks can form composite particles, either mesons or baryons (or pentaquarks, etc). Both of those have mass.

  32. I love this style of thinking. I spent large amounts of idle time in middle school doing stuff rather like this, with the Harry Potter books as a common starting point. It’s a fun freewheeling mania that both benefits from and produces lots of useless facts.

  33. Peter says:

    I once had a theory that Adam Smith was a myth. After all, Adam is pretty obviously a good name for a mythical founder, and Smith is an occupational name – a smith is a more macho version of a carpenter – the craftsman being alluded to here being Jesus.

    However, I think I might be missing a subtlety here; clearly there’s something about “Adam Smith” that’s different from the names of other philosophers, but maybe someone more skilled than I in this sort of thing can dig out the real truth.

  34. bobwoco says:

    I think in the passage about Adam before the passage about George Washington, true should become tree. “Adam transgresses his Heavenly Father’s commandment not to touch a fruit true. ” => “Adam transgresses his Heavenly Father’s commandment not to touch a fruit tree.”

  35. m_robinson says:

    I don’t believe ‘symbols MSS’ are proven in the examples given.

  36. I’m taking this as a parable warning against data mining.

  37. asdf says:

    Meh, I feel like The Invisibles did the whole kabbalah self-similar fractal universe thing better, all this MSS stuff is kind of stupid.

  38. alexander hollins says:

    Hunh. Computing history goes far into the past, as far back as the abacus, but the true revolutions of the computer began with Microsoft Digital operating system, or, MS doS …

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  40. Jack V says:

    I’m rereading unsong to see what makes sense, now we’re at chapter 20 and I feel a lot of the things I wondered at have now been at least partially established.

    One thought is, oh my God, this chapter is amazing. I love how many different things are woven into one. And that it’s an intricate world-building plot built around a zinger of a “bush in the desert” joke. I’m really glad there were some mistakes or I’d worry it could possibly be true 🙂

    My other thought is, this underlying connection seems to be supported by other more authoritative pronouncements in this world, and explains a lot about the cosmology. But it only just now occurs to me, it’s possible Aaron is completely wrong about it. Probably not from a narrative standpoint, I think I’m probably right to accept it as info-dump. But he might be right in general outline but have overstated the connection to Chinese and american history.

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  42. Interesting that even in this timeline “It took all the way until the turn of the millennium before America listened to a bush and then got stuck wandering in a desert without an exit strategy.” — wonder what’s going to be similar and what’s going to be different about W (if it’s W) and the Iraq war (if it’s in Iraq)

    • Ninmesara says:

      I think this might actually be just a joke with no further relevance to the plot. On the other hand, Scott might read this and change the story so that president Bush leads a failed campaign to reclaim the Midwest just to mess with us. For bonus points, the troops get stuck in the Wall Drug Anomaly (“no exit strategy”)

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