aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Author’s Note 5: San Francisco, Polytopes, Divine Cars

Some more good fanart, this time of Unsong’s San Francisco:

This comes courtesy of Mehitabel Glenhaber. I am all in favor of doing the thing Eliezer did where creating good enough fanart earns your name a cameo in the book. According to Wikipedia, the name “Mehitabel” means “God causes good” in Biblical Hebrew. So in honor of her fan art, I will make this book about Jewish theodicy

But it is very good fanart indeed, so I will give her an extra cameo. Biblical Mehitabel is mentioned only in Genesis 36:39, as the wife of the Edomite king Hadar in the Edomite King List. This King List is actually very important – it is the source from which Isaac Luria kabbalistically derived the idea of the “shattering of the vessels”, which explains the existence of imperfection and the qlipot. So also in her honor, I will make this story about the Lurianic kabbalistic account of cosmic imperfection.

Also, Patrick Hunter on Facebook drew a picture of Thamiel. The name “Patrick” comes from the Latin “patrician”, meaning “noble”, and Hunter of course means hunter, so in his honor, Chapter 20 mentions King Nimrod, who the Bible calls a “mighty hunter”.

Anders Sandberg has done a detailed analysis of Uriel’s stacking problem from Chapter 20 about balancing various multidimensional shapes. I can only assume the name of his blog is a coincidence.

A few people brought up Unsong in the context of a gematria analysis purporting to show that Hillary Clinton is holding the family of the FBI director hostage. I endorse Unsong’s relevance to this claim.

Some of the jokes in Chapter 30 came from this page on what kind of car God drives.

Story-relevant links for the last few chapters: The Destruction of Sennacherib, Silverthorne and the Dillon Reservoir in Colorado, Wall Drug and its signs, Zzyzx, the Gibborim, Simon bar Kokhba, “it is not in Heaven”, Madrid Mideast Peace Conference, the Green Man of Peyote, Hymn of Breaking Strain (the song), rock n’ roll explanation of American Pie

TopWebFiction and WebFictionGuide are related sites that link to online serial fiction. They have a Reddit-like upvote system for choosing the most popular. If you like Unsong, please upvote it here.

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27 Responses to Author’s Note 5: San Francisco, Polytopes, Divine Cars

  1. anon says:

    >So in honor of her fan art, I will make this book about Jewish theodicy

    Very nice, that one caught me off guard.

  2. Pyth (Kappa), Hell Consultant says:

    Giving people cameos in Unsong by kabbalistically analyzing their names to find how they already fit into the story is possibly the most Scott thing you have ever done.

  3. LPSP says:

    I always used to think that Patrick-Patrician connection was a false friend, that the irish originator Padraig was etymologically uncorrected. Now I know the truth!

    Reading that fascinating link about the original seven spheres in Tohu, and the seven kings who needed to be broken in their egocentricity for Tikun to form:

    Someone should DEFINITELY do a kabbalist analysis Super Mario, and particularly Super Mario Bros 3 – a trial where Mario visits seven kingdoms and thwarts seven bratty demonic usurpers, before heading to hell and defeating their dark, beauty-snatching father. Here, I even aligned the sphere I think fits each koopaling best:

    Kindness Lemmy
    Sharpness Ludwig
    Beauty Wendy
    Longevity Morton
    Splendour Roy
    Details Iggy
    Individuality Larry

  4. Good Burning Plastic says:

    Looks like Unsong does not have a Facebook page. Is that just because you can’t be bothered/don’t have the time to make one, or because you’d rather it had none? Would you mind if someone made one?

  5. Sukil says:

    Wow, you seem to be really good at etimology, languages and Hebrew. All of that can’t come from the Internet, right? Pretty impressed.

  6. Two years ago I made a drawing of Emmy Noether in a high school art class (based on this photo). Emmy Noether, of course, is well-known for her development of the theory of ideals. The theory of ideals is obviously related to theodicy and the problem of evil, as discussed in your story. Moreover, the name Emmy is derived from the Latin aemulus, which means rivalry, corresponding with the conflict between good and evil.

    In particular, Noether is known for her ascending chain condition. An ascending chain of ideals is a reference to Luria’s vessels of God as described in your story. Turning the ascending chain condition into a quantitative measure, we get the Krull dimension. Thus, the three unbroken vessels and seven broken vessels correspond to the three spatial dimensions and the seven compactified dimensions of M-theory.

    Can I get a cameo for my fanart?

    • The coment king says:

      The Krull dimension comes from collapsing the chain of ideals into a finite sequence. Similarly, the left hand of God turned to cruelty because of the collapse of the vessels, due to the infinite God collapsing into a finite universe.

    • Good Burning Plastic says:

      Thus, the three unbroken vessels and seven broken vessels correspond to the three spatial dimensions and the seven compactified dimensions of M-theory.

      I thought Malkuth corresponded to time, but making it correspond to the extra dimension of M-theory compared to string theory might or might not be a better fit.

  7. Marvy says:

    Re: cameos. I think you’ve actually made Unsong about time travel. I’ve thought this for a while, but now I finally have solid (albeit weak) evidence.

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