aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Author’s Note 8: Textbook, Erica, Indianapolis

Art, starting with a cover for Kabbalah: A Modern Approach (I can’t find the original artist, tell me who you are so I can give you credit!):

And by Tumblr user topquarkintown, Uriel stacking twelve-dimensional shapes:

…and Erica:

Here’s a Hebrew translation of the Unsong version of Hallelujah, by Shaked.

Jaskologist on a theory of magic vanishing from the universe. His timeline matches Unsong’s pretty well. Also, more Jaskologist on magic.

The Rishon Model of physics, an attempted Theory of Everything using particles called Tohu and Vohu.

“Schroeder believes, quite earnestly, that the city of Indianapolis was built to be a gateway to Hell by Masonic pagans” (h/t deusvulture)

Plot-relevant articles: Bush’s inaugural address, Lovecraft’s Fungi From Yuggoth, Obama and Trump in Bible prophecy, chashmal (and more), telepathy in kabbalah, God killing 2.8 million people in the Bible, Irving Greenberg and Holocaust theology, Cathar parfaits, Derek Parfit.

Thanks to everyone who said hi to me and talked to me about Unsong at the Asilomar conference. I have to say, it’s scary enough knowing that cool Silicon Valley people read Slate Star Codex. Knowing that some of them read Unsong is just a little too much for me.

Here’s a picture from the conference of me with Sam Teller, a director at SpaceX. Cf. Chapter 10 – “The kabbalistic meaning [of Teller] is ‘someone who calls down destructive celestial energies'”!

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31 Responses to Author’s Note 8: Textbook, Erica, Indianapolis

  1. Yay a shoutout!

    Also, shirt orders closed today. Thanks to everyone who ordered one – demand went way beyond expectations (something like a hundred shirts overall), so it’ll take me a few days to mail them all (also, affirming the “people are basically good” theory is the number of people who sent extra money just in case it ended up costing me more than expected). (Note: if you’re the person who filled in their email in the mailing address space and also didn’t reply to my email asking where to mail the shirt, please email me your address so I know where to mail your shirt).

    • Michael says:

      I was disorderly and forgot to order, am I SOL?

      • depends on your shirt size – the people who forgot their address also didn’t pay (and aren’t answering my email), so I’m leaning towards offering their shirts to anyone who’s late and wants one. (email me at the rot13 of funxrq.xbcyrjvgm gmail com if you want to check).

        • monkyyy says:

          roughly how much money did you make for how many hours of work? Ingoring the charity bits

          • I don’t have a final estimate yet (I still need to mail it, and my town’s kinda shut down today due to the blizzard), but from eyeballing it looks like I just about broke even (say, probably between -50 and +150, assuming mailing costs go as expected).

          • Clearly, if I end up making a loss the thing to do is to call up the AMF and ask them to cover it, on the justification that I agreed to precommit to giving them any net revenue and the expected gain was positive so really, they’d actually be getting money on average by paying me.

            (If I were an unfriendly AI I could totally pull that off).

    • Rand says:

      Do you want to do this again when the story concludes?

      I’d also fallen behind when you were doing the t-shirt thing, but I’d love an unsong t-shirt.

  2. stavro375 says:

    Here’s a picture from the conference of me with Sam Teller,

    I have somehow built a mental model of what you look like, and neither of those people match that model.

    I will now proceed as if I have never seen it.

    Carry on.

    • Interestingly, I had the exact opposite reaction (in that I thought Scott looked exactly like I expected him to). I had your reaction when I met Scott Aaronson, though.

    • Kurt Reisender says:

      He put the photos in the wrong order, Scott is the celestial being with a thousand eyes of golden flame.

      • Kurt Reisender says:

        This we derive from the phrase “scot free” and the saying “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” (attributed to Leonard Courtney). Eternal vigilance (and therefore, being “Scott”) is, of course, impossible without being an immortal with eyes facing every direction.

        • Evan Þ says:

          But is Scott a true Scott-man?

          • Kurt Reisender says:

            The explicit meaning of “Alexander” is “Defender of Man”, I e. One who pays the price fir the freedom of man. I.e. a true Scott-man.

            The explicit meaning of Alexander is Scott-man. This we derive from the Latin “e lex”, meaning “from the law” and Greek “ander” meaning “man”.

            Or from a- (without); -lex- (law) and (and) er (刵 Which is Chinese for “to cut off someone’s ears as a punishment”). So he allows us to be free of these punishments.

            Furthermore, the true Scott-man fallacy tells us that anyone denying that someone is an immortal sentinel of freedom, is committing a fallacy and is surely wrong.

    • Tasty_Y says:

      I’m curious what your model of Scott looked like.

    • Alsadius says:

      FWIW, Scott is the one on the right. “Scott Alexander” is a pseudonym, but Sam Teller has a real LinkedIn profile here;, and he’s clearly the one on the left.

      (Also, it was once upon a time possible to find Scott’s real name from material posted online, and I did so. So far as I know the relevant sites no longer exist, and even searching for his real name today produces no hits for him I can see, so don’t bother looking. But I did see what he looked like, and yeah, dude on the right)

      • Marvy says:

        It is still possible to find his full name online; but since he presumably went to some trouble to remove things, I would probably be impolite for me to give pointers here.

        • Kurt Reisender says:

          Because we who know his True Name can gain power over him through witchcraft. And we have no cause to share that power.

        • Alsadius says:

          I can find mentions of both names, but only by explicitly searching for both names. Neither searching for the pen name nor the real one brings up those results. And, as you say, it’d be impolite to offer links.

      • Vamair says:

        “Steller”, like stellar? A nice name for SpaceX director.

  3. nipi says:

    Here’s a picture from the conference of me with Sam Teller, a director at SpaceX. Cf. Chapter 10 – “The kabbalistic meaning [of Teller] is ‘someone who calls down destructive celestial energies’”!

    Wait! What? Oh God this wont end well!

  4. JJeffery Mewtamer says:

    Anyone know where I can find the full English text of the Unsong version of Hallelujah? The title pages apparently have the lyrics rendered as graphics and are thus unreadable to my screen reader.

    • fakersaddition says:

      Well, I heard there was a sacred word
      That Jala sang, and it named the Lord
      But you don’t know really know of magic,
      or us
      It goes like this, a tav, a resh
      A fearsome joy, a fervent wish
      The Comet King receiving haMephorash

      Your faith was strong but you needed proof
      Hay hay yud tav mem tav vav kuf
      A ship on which another sailed before us
      She saw his flag on the highest mast
      She saw a dream that couldn’t last
      The Comet King receiving haMephorash

      You say I took the Name in vain
      And after that I lost the Name
      I gave it back to Him who holds it for us
      But echoes sound in every word
      It doesn’t matter what occurred
      You never really lose the HaMephorash

  5. Dave says:

    On the topic of being star struck, I always found the phrase “Big fan of your work” goes over well, and sounds sufficiently casual, and works over a wide range of relative prestige. Much better than “Congratulations on being so-and-so”!

  6. Noumenon says:

    … Erica is Rufio confirmed?

  7. Ze Bri-0n says:

    Unfortunately, it looks like Jaskology is no longer in possession of whoever wrote the thing about magic vanishing, and is now up for sale, making said theory inaccessible.

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