Evening, May 14, 2017
It was called Tava, or “sun mountain”, by the Ute. El Capitan, meaning “the leader”, by the Spanish. But its modern name “Pike’s Peak” comes from explorer Zebulon Pike, and his name in turn comes from the Biblical Zebulon, son of Jacob.
Moses says in Deuteronomy 33: “Rejoice, Zebulon, in your journeys. You call the people to your mountain, and there they will offer a sacrifice of the righteous.” Taken to refer to Mr. Pike, the journeys part checks out. The mountain part definitely checks out. The sacrifice of the righteous part is kind of obscure.
Sohu hoped, as she rematerialized on the summit of Pike’s Peak, that it didn’t have anything to do with her.
She had chosen her terrain carefully. She was north of Citadel West; Thamiel would have to come through here to get to her family. She could see in every direction. The bunker to her south, the highway to her north, the city to her east. If she had to do something drastic, she was far enough from human habitation that they would escape collateral damage. Poor, lovely Colorado Springs! It was so small from up here, still smaller than Denver after forty years as the capital. They all thought her father had decided to stay because of the bunker, or the air force base, or the nuclear silos scattered in the hills. But he’d stayed because it was where he’d grown up, and that was always the thing that scared him, losing his humanity, falling completely into his form of stars and fire and night. Colorado Springs was small and lovely and it was home, and even when he was two thousand feet underground in the mountain it had been near and that had made him happy.
What were the odds it would survive another twenty-four hours?
She felt it before she saw it, a low buzz that seemed to wax and wane like the beating of an enormous heart. Then it filled the northern sky, a cross between a black storm cloud and a colony of bats. She had seen Thamiel before, but never this, never an entire host.
It saw her. The dark cloud changed directions, headed right towards her. Its radius must have measured miles. Finally it was atop her, buzzing over her, like her own personal rainstorm.
A familiar form separated from the formless mass, and Thamiel slid through the air effortlessly to join Sohu on the peak. He opened his mouth to say something, but Sohu interrupted.
“Thamiel, if this were a book, and you were at the head of a demonic army, and the only thing standing in your way was a little girl, on a mountaintop, with a sword forged from a fallen star, how do you think it would end?”
“This again?” Thamiel snorted. “First of all, you don’t have – ”
The great sword Sigh appeared in Sohu’s hands.
” – your father’s abilities,” Thamiel finished, fluidly, with only the slightest pause. “And Sohu, I killed him. He resisted me for a season only, with a stupid trick, and in the end I killed him. The Other King got the empty husk, but I was the one who killed his spirit. Do you know why videos still work, Sohu? That wasn’t Uriel. That was me. I kept it working so that every month, I could send him videos of his wife, burning. Updates, if you will. I never missed one. I killed him slowly, protractedly, until finally the Other King stuck a sword through his chest and put him out of his misery. Now my powers are stronger. What do you think I will do to you? Be afraid, Sohu. I am the left hand of God.”
Sohu didn’t say anything, just rolled down her sleeve to show the scarred stump where her own left hand used to be.
Then she stepped into Yetzirah and struck. She called on the town to their east, its first streetlights starting to glow in the twilight gloom. Colorado Springs. Colorado is Spanish for colorful. Color comes from Indo-European *kel, to conceal. Spring. To burst forth. Colorado Springs. That which had been concealed, bursting forth. Revelation of secrets. The essence of kabbalah. Her hometown and her birthright. She filled herself with love for her city and her family and her people, and the essence of kabbalah arced out of her, filled the mountaintops with light.
Thamiel held out his bident, parted the glowing streams of meaning. Colorado, color, *kel, concealment. Cognate with Greek, kalypto, to conceal. To unconceal, to reveal, apokalypto. John had named his revelation Apokalypto, thence the modern Apocalypse. Revelation 9:3: “And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power.” With the practiced mastery of thousands of years, Thamiel took each line of force that Sohu fed him, channeled the semantic energies from Colorado to apocalypse and to the power given to demons to rule the earth.
She saw what he was doing, wouldn’t let him, raised her sword, traced two minus signs of flame into the air. Revelation 9:3 minus two, Revelation 9:1. “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” The star that sought the key to the pit. The line of Comet West, Heaven touching upon Earth, the source of Sohu’s gifts and the meaning that drove her life. The meaning burst into sparks of starlight all around her, protecting her, wrapping around her like a cloak.
Thamiel rolled two of his eyes and made a motion with his bident.
The whole cloud of demons crashed down on her. The three great hosts of the hellish princes Adramelech, Asmodeus, and Rahab, all turned against a single human. It was like falling night, like rushing water. The shield of starlight crackled, started to crumble. She constructed forms and glyphs in Briah and Yetzirah, shrieked a desperate cry for help through the aether to anything that could hear. She couldn’t waste her real weapons on these things. She needed them for Thamiel. She had lost him in the cacophony. She traced desperate patterns to ward off the horde, surrounded herself with glittering polyhedra of light.
Then came a great wind from the south, and she saw an army of spirits, skull-like faces crowned with quetzal feathers. A Mesoamerican war-band crashed into the host of Adramelech. Sohu felt the assault on her subside as they turned to face these new intruders.
“You thought I forgot!” Samyazaz yelled into the towering nimbus of demons. He was in his true angelic form now, neither priest-king nor cactus, a brilliant creature of ivory-white wings and unbearably intense eyes. “Well, now it’s the apocalypse, and there’s nothing left to be afraid of, so you know what? I never forget! YOU DESTROYED MY ZIGGURAT, YOU TWO-HEADED CREEP!” The air rang with the thunder of their combat.
Sohu took advantage of the distraction, shot out from Pike’s Peak, ascended into the open air above, still searching for Thamiel. Asmodeus and Rahab’s hosts followed. They crashed into her in the cirrus clouds above the highest mountain, two tongues of dark flame that whirled around her among the noctilucent drops of ice. Sohu spoke words of fire and night, drove great spinning wheels of flame into the hearts of the horde, called the winds to scatter her assailants. She spoke the Names of God, the secret ones UNSONG had spent the work of decades gathering, and slashed huge swathes of destruction into the darkness. But slowly they began to close in again, the starlight weakening, Sohu’s breath and voice starting to fail.
Then the cavalry rode in. Hundreds of beautiful tall angels riding bright white horses, and…was that the William Tell Overture? At their head, wearing cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat, rode Gadiriel, the Lady of Los Angeles. “YEEEEHAW!” she shouted, heedless of the Third Commandment. She fired her revolver twice, and each shot blossomed into a miniature sun. She saw Asmodeus, jumped off her horse, landed in front of him with her gun drawn. “I reckon you better turn around and go right back where you came from, pardner,” she drawled. “There’s a new seraph in town!”
Sohu didn’t wait to see what happened next. She flew through a hole in the darkness, still seeking Thamiel. He was nowhere to be found. The host of Rahab pursued, indistinct dark forms that looked from different angles like ravens, bats, or locusts. She tried to evade them, rose even higher, coursed through the ionosphere in a crackle of light into the dark spaces beyond Earth’s atmosphere, where the fixed stars and moon glowed unimpeded by any envelope of air. She let the lines of starlight intersect around her, reflect off each other, congeal into a luminous labyrinth of protection. Still the host of Rahab came against her, teasing through her vulnerabilities, wresting cracks in her own shield to match the cracks in the sky above them. And she realized then that she couldn’t stand on her own against even a single demonic host, that this would finally be the end of her.
Then a million figures shot up from the earth below on pillars of fire. Old men, children, women with flowers in their hair, all singing songs of love and praise. The people of San Francisco, who had passed while still alive into the eternity outside of time. All listening to her call, coming to her aid. At their head, still clad in a white NASA spacesuit, rose Neil Armstrong, who had returned from the space beyond the world as the Right Hand of God. He rocketed into the horde of demons until he reached Rahab, and grabbed his neck, and slew him. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 89:10: “Thou hast slain Rahab with thy strong arm”
Sohu plummeted back down to Earth, burned like a meteor as she pierced the heavens, landed back on the summit of Pike’s Peak, newly invigorated. “I’m coming for you, Thamiel!” she shouted, and she found him on the side of the mountain, landed with enough force to clear a crater, turned to face her adversary within the still-smoking arena. Still not quite time. She had to weaken him first.
Thamiel didn’t say anything, just called forth terror and nightmare. From Pike’s Peak itself he took a profusion of Ps and Ks. Apep and Kek, the two Egyptian gods of primordial darkness. Poop and kaka, two terms for human excrement. Pikey and Paki and kike and kook, all terms of fear and prejudice and hatred.
As it closed in on her, Sohu took the same letters and turned them into pikuach. Pikuach nefesh, to save a life, the holiest of principles, the one that took precedence over almost any other. Kippah, the cap worn by the holy to remind them that God was above them at all times, to protect them from the unbearable radiance of the Divine Presence. Cop. A protector, an agent of Law. Pope. The vicar of God on Earth. Kook. The first Chief Rabbi of Israel, who said that “the pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light”. Keep. “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments”. Kayak, her own word, on which she had begun her studies so many years ago. The shield of starlight flickered desperately, but did not give in.
Thamiel slashed at her with his bident; Sohu stepped back, and the bident struck empty air, leaving two glowing lines. Two. Sohu took the gematria, transmuted it into bet, added it to the kayak still gleaming above her, made it into kokab, star.
Thamiel removed the leftmost kaf from the word. Kaf. Palm. The left hand of God. The remaining letters he turned it into bakah, weeping. Job 16:16, “My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death.” From the verse Thamiel took foulness, and the shadow of death, and the number 616. That left him with a 1. “I have won”, he said.
And he had. The foulness and death, the Number of the Beast, the Left Hand of God, all the concepts were too tight, Sohu was too exhausted to tease any more meaning out of her. They closed together, tore apart her shield.
Thamiel raised the bident high. “Any last words?” he asked.
“Two…of them,” sputtered Sohu. “Knock…knock.”
“What?” asked Thamiel, his eyes narrowing. His second head bobbed back and forth in excitement and confusion.
“Knock knock,” said Sohu. “Don’t tell me you’re not familiar with the setup.”
“Who’s there?” he asked suspiciously.
Sohu woke up on a bed of cloudstuff, just as she had done thousands of times before. But today was different. Today was her last day here. She would get in the flying kayak and go home and cry at her father’s funeral and help her family. What she had learned would have to be enough.
She walked out of the little cottage. There was Uriel in his spot in the center of the storm, great gold eyes gleaming with excitement.
“THINGS HAVE HAPPENED,” said Uriel.
“Huh?” asked Sohu, still half asleep, rubbing her eyes. She wasn’t nearly awake enough yet to deal with the sort of weirdness Uriel was constantly springing on her.
“YOU ASKED WHY YOU SHOULD STAY AN EXTRA DAY. I TOLD YOU MANY THINGS COULD HAPPEN IN A DAY. NOW THEY HAVE HAPPENED. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE ARE SEVERAL NEW VERSES IN THE BIBLE.”
“Uriel, please. What are you talking about?”
“I DO NOT WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME, BUT I KNOW YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO COLORADO. SO I HAVE REARRANGED THE FUNDAMENTAL SPATIAL AND MYSTICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE UNIVERSE SOMEWHAT. IT WAS VERY HARD. I COULD NOT DO IT IN YETZIRAH OR EVEN BRIAH. I HAD TO EDIT ATZILUTH DIRECTLY.”
“…doesn’t that destroy the world?”
“USUALLY. THAT IS WHY I MOSTLY AVOID IT. BUT I TRIED VERY HARD TO MAKE SURE THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. IN THIS CASE ALL IT DID WAS CHANGE THE BIBLE. IT IS SO WEIRD TO BEGIN WITH THAT I DOUBT VERY MANY PEOPLE WILL NOTICE.”
“Uriel, everyone notices the Bible. People have been studying every letter of it for thousands of years.”
“What did you do anyway?”
“I HAVE CREATED A RITUAL THAT LETS TWO MINDS JOIN TOGETHER. NO MATTER HOW FAR AWAY, THEY CAN TALK TO EACH OTHER, SHARE THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES, FEEL THE SAME EMOTION. THEY WILL BE WITH EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME, BEYOND DISTANCE OR DEATH.
“…what does that mean?”
“I WILL SHOW YOU. I HAVE MADE A MAGIC CIRCLE. PLEASE STEP INTO IT.”
“This isn’t going to be like the time you made me eight years old forever and couldn’t change it back, is it?”
“LIKE THAT IN WHAT WAY?”
Sohu sighed. Conversations with Uriel would never be remotely normal. But they were something whose absence would leave a great gaping void in her life. What would it be like to live with ordinary people, who would answer questions with simple yeses or nos instead of asking for absurd specifics and then going off on tangents about which proto-Quechua root words it reminded them of? It was too awful to contemplate.
She stepped into the magic circle.
“REPEAT AFTER ME, BUT CHANGE THE NAME. I, THE ARCHANGEL URIEL, IN FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONSEQUENCES…”
“I, Sohu West, in…bah…full knowledge of the consequences…”
And so they went, the archangel first, then the child, through the long ritual of the Sacred Kabbalistic Marriage of Minds. The winds of the storm around them went strangely quiet. The sun darkened, as if covered by clouds, then brightened as if reflected by a million jewels. The sky became a deeper shade of blue.
“FOR GOD IS ONE”
“For God is One”
“AND HIS NAME IS ONE”
“And His Name is One”
“AND WE ARE ONE”
“And we are one”
“AND IT IS DONE”
“And it is done”
Sohu felt something new in her mind, a presence, a spark of gold.
[Are you in my head?] she asked the archangel.
[WELL, I WOULD NOT SAY I AM LITERALLY IN YOUR HEAD, SINCE YOUR HEAD IS VERY SMALL. HOWEVER, IF YOU WANT TO USE SPATIAL METAPHORS TO GROUND THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CHASHMAL, YOU MIGHT SAY THAT…]
Thamiel raised the bident high, chuckled. “Any last words?” he asked.
“Two…of them,” sputtered Sohu. “Knock…knock.”
“What?” asked Thamiel, his eyes narrowing. His second head bobbed back and forth in excitement and confusion.
“Knock knock,” said Sohu. “Don’t tell me you’re not familiar with the setup.”
“Who’s there?” he finally asked, suspiciously.
Sohu closed her eyes. When she opened them, there was no sclera, no iris, no pupil. Just a sea of burning gold.
“URIEL,” she said.
“What?” asked Thamiel, jumping back. “How? What are you – ”
“YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY ‘URIEL WHO’,” said Sohu.
“You’re dead! The Other King killed you, destroyed your machine, and good riddance! That’s why my powers are – ”
“YOU DO NOT SEEM LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO SAY ‘URIEL WHO’ SO I WILL PRETEND YOU SAID IT AND CONTINUE THE JOKE ANYWAY. THE ANSWER I WAS GOING TO GIVE WAS: ‘URIEL-LY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER THAN TO THINK I WOULD ABANDON MY FRIEND.'”
Then there was light.
Beautiful, multicolored light, ten colors, the seven colors of the earthly rainbow and the three extra colors you only get in Heaven. Ten colors corresponding to the ten sephirot and the ten fingers and the Ten Commandments and the ten digits of the number system and the ten pip cards of the Tarot and all the other tens in all the correspondences of the world. Thamiel tried to flee, but it consumed him, melted him like the sun melts snowflakes. All of the demons of the great swarm that hovered above Colorado Springs melted away in that conflagration, the release of all the stored energy of all the spheres, eons of careful collection loosed into a single brilliant flowering.
Sohu blinked again, and her eyes were deep brown.
[THAT IS ALL OF IT] said Uriel, in Sohu’s head. [THERE IS NO MORE DIVINE LIGHT.]
[It did what we needed it to.]
[HE IS GONE FOR A BRIEF TIME ONLY. HE WILL RETURN LATER.]
[Something else will have killed us by then, so that’s fine.]
[YOU ARE VERY PESSIMISTIC.]
[It’s the apocalypse. You wrote the Book of Revelation, didn’t you?]
[UM. I WAS GOING TO. BUT THEN THE JET STREAM STARTED FLOWING THE WRONG WAY AND I HAD TO FIX IT. I THINK I JUST GAVE JOHN OF PATMOS A BUCKET OF PSILOCYBE MUSHROOMS AND TOLD HIM TO WRITE WHATEVER CAME TO MIND.]
[Well, take my word for it, things are really bad.]
[I AM IN A GOOD MOOD. IT HAS BEEN THREE HOURS AND FOUR MINUTES SINCE MY MACHINE WAS DESTROYED. THIS IS THE LONGEST I HAVE EVER GONE WITHOUT HAVING TO FIX ANY CATASTROPHIC SYSTEM ERRORS.]
[I’m glad one of us is enjoying this. Let’s go help Nathanda.]
Sohu turned to lightning and disappeared. The last few ashes and sparks fell to the base of Pike’s Peak. The force of the battle had split the mountain in two.
[Author’s Note 10 is now up.]
Vote for Unsong!
Always the real thing
That seems dangerous to him – for God is One
It’s only a problem for him if the Comet King succeeds in recarving One without that facet.
1 is the difference between תמיאל (or, Aramaic, תומיאל, but as we know angels don’t understand Aramaic) and the other name that this dude might have been known by. One little bit in the wrong place throws everything off, doesn’t it?
“heedless of the Third Commandment”
I was told a better translation of it is “Do not _carry_ the Name in vain”.
If so, then not heedless at all. Is there a better way to carry the Name than into the greatest wrestling match of the human vs. the divine?
The angels chastised Moshe for daring to ask Y*VH for the Mitzvot, but Y*VH told Moshe to argue with them and compel them to desist that Moshe might receive them.
Maybe the angels learned some respect for humanity that day. And so in humanity’s time of greatest need, Galadriel comes to bear the Name through a horde of demons to the modern Ya’akov (the Patriarch associated with Night, which has just fallen in the deepest, most profound sense.).
Gadiriel, not Galadriel…
Why could’t sohu have done that earlier, when they needed someone to get computers working again?
If she had, how would she have then dealt with the predictable threat of Thamiel? She needed to hold on to the divine light.
Then why did she fix the radios? they might have needed that divine light, too.
And now that there is no divine light, did the radios just stop working again?
Where are all the other Watchers, is what I’m wondering. Too far away? No grudge against Thamiel?
(And for that matter, where are the angels from the reserves? Refusing to act unless told, I guess.)
It did mention that Gadiriel rode into battle leading “hundreds of beautiful tall angels riding bright white horses”. Where else would she find those but the reserves?
Also what other Watchers? Samyazaz came, Raziel is… weird, and none others have been mentioned iirc.
Oh, good point.
No others have been named in the text, but their existence has been mentioned.
Also: where is Raziel?
That’s a very good question and one I would love to see answered.
Awesome. Typo thread: I like the imagery in “huge swatches of destruction”, but it should probably be swathes.
Book of Revelation, singular.
if we are doing a typo thread I am not certain this was a typo or just a failed definition used in the back and forth but
“colorado is spanish for colorful” is inaccurate
should actually be either
“colorado is spanish for the color red”
“colorado is spanish for colored”
it is a common misconception thanks to the “colorful colorado” sign we have on the highway between colorado and new mexico that colorado means colorful, many people mistakenly assume it is like “table mesa” in which the name was written in english then spanish. Colorado was named for our vibrantly red rocks.
In regards to this chapter, I think the second of these definitions is more appropriate to Sohu’s usage here and the first more appropriate to a retort from Thamiel.
Take what you will from this and keep up the good work ^^
John had named his revelation Apokalypto -> John had named his revelation Apokalypsis
There should be no apostrophe in Pikes Peak.
Rolled down sleeve —> Rolled up sleeve?
“The great sword Sigh appeared in Sohu’s hands.”
Which hands would those be?
I think she borrowed some from an eccentric llama. I mean, he said he was hungry, but she was all like “Caaaarrrrlllll”, and she was Sohu West, so he had to relent.
If we’re nitpicking: wasn’t it established that celestial beings couldn’t use Names? At least The Drug Lord couldn’t (chapter 37) and neither could Thamiel’s demons (chapter 43). But the mind-link ritual contains an invocation of a Name (chapter 5).
And if anyone’s going to get hung up on the “Ya’akov’s not female” thing…Sohu is artificially preserved in childhood. Before age 9, males and females have the same level of testosterone and nearly the same level of estrogen (estradiol is 50% higher for its upper limit in women, but the minimum is the same) And the female genitals are just a smaller scale, more concealed version of the male (structurally).
Arguably, all children are male, Kabbalically, and all children are female. (But they are raised as distinct because they need to be prepared for their different roles, according to classic Jewish world outlook.) Puberty differentiates them not just their souls from their parents, but the male from the female roots it springs from.
(Conceptually, all fetuses are female until androgens cause a penis and testicles to form. Even after birth, the differences are so minimal it’s materially accurate to say they remain undistinguished from each other on a biological level (since their genitals are reproductively non functional).)
Sohu is totally appropriate as the figure to be fighting here because not having reached age 12, she’s still conceptually the same soul as her mother and father. Continuing the fight which they cannot.
I’m not sure I agree with your argument. It seems like circumcision is a theologically significant distinction between male and female jewish babies.
It’s more complicated than that; also, testicles and ovaries are basically the same thing (some people even have intermediates), and a penis is just an overgrown clitoris that forms a groove which then becomes a tube. There are things that happen in female but not male development, like the suicide of Wolff’s duct…
…but I digress.
Uriel confirms that Skabmom works even when a participant is dead. Sonow it’s just a matter of someone in the chain getting the explicit name. Ana is in more or less exactly where the Comet King was when he got it, so there’s the simplest path to victory.
Its still not obvious to me if it only works for non-permanent death though. Since Uriel is supposed to re-coalesce. Although Uriel does say
He does say that, but at the same time, Ana and Aaron can’t talk to each other if they’re too far apart. So maybe it doesn’t quite work that way if both SCABMOMmers (SCABMOMites?) are mortal.
Yeah, though this also shows that neither TCK nor Robin could be in a SCABMOM-chain, because SCABMOM was added by Uriel only after their deaths (so TCK was telepathing to Sohu via some other mechanism). Though it still leaves a possibility of Dylan going to Hell and SCABMOM-chaining the HaMephorash there to pass it to TCK or even use it himself (he is already crazy enough, I think, to use it despite the risk of it burning the user up or driving him mad, plus the burning-up threat is sort of moot, considering that Dylan would be already in Hell)
And the going-mad threat is sort-of moot, because Dylan.
I definitely agree there!
I think most of the souls would happily use the explicit name, specifically because it DOES burn them up, which at that point might be more of a mercy than anything else.
What if the Other King is a good guy? Origin story involves him rejecting unfairness in the world. Perhaps being undead spares one from Hell, and it suggests he’s working on life extension. We know the mysticism-based world is untenable, and even the Comet King said he’s going to reshape the facets of God, so the world seems to be heading toward a reboot as a physics-based reality. Perhaps that’s what the Other King wants.
It seems fairly unavoidable by now that TOK is TCK in disguise. Remember that Robin’s endgame in going to Hell is to turn TCK evil and get him to enter Hell and destroy it. If TCK really died and went to Hell, we’d certainly have heard about it, and if he went to Heaven that would mean Robin’s plan failed, which would be against the laws of narrative placebomancy. This means TCK is alive. We’ve pretty much figured out that he’s not the captain of Not a Metaphor (as the captain is God), so he must be TOK.
Thamiel seems to think that TCK is dead, and he would certainly know if this wasn’t the case.
He is probably assuming the Comet King went to Heaven.
Another thing that might be happening is that TCK is dead, but through necromancy, TOK is some kind of avatar or shade. Or he is actually that undead rabbi guy, acting as TCK’s agent via skabmom.
Either way I’m dead convinced that TOK is TCK and Nemo is Metatron.
SKABMOM doesn’t exist until after TOK “kills” Jala, though, according to this chapter we are commenting on right now, so they can’t use it to link (except maybe via retrocausality, but I don’t think we’ve seen evidence of that except for the bible occasionally mutating in various ways).
Why are we sure the Comet King can’t conceal his survival from Thamiel?
Thamiel is aware that the Comet King can trick him. Thamiel got tricked by the Comet King within minutes of first encountering him.
TCK can be either the Captain, TOK, both or none. Maybe Scott has decided it with a coin toss? If so, this chapter is probably the right place for it (since the next chapter will reveal the identity of either TOK or the Captain).
The only argument I can find against TCK being TOK is that he woukd know that crossing the canal would kill Lin and yet he does it anyway. Either he values Father Ellis more than Lin, or he decided that oblivion is way better than an eternity in Hell.
I’m the thing that squealing in delight is a metaphor for.
Isn’t this bad? Aren’t mountains useful? Or maybe its to say that Sohu finally got to do cool things so much so that mountain splitting is unremarkable in comparison.
And from the Author’s note, it looks like the 72 chapters hypothesis was right after all.
It’s a callback to chapter 26 http://unsongbook.com/chapter-26-for-not-one-sparrow-can-suffer-and-the-whole-universe-not-suffer-also/
Now she’s blown up both a mountain and Thamiel.
It’s also an ominous callback to another line from chapter 26:
“PLEASE DO NOT BLOW UP MOUNTAINS. IT NEVER HELPS.”
Also, Uriel said “climactic” patterns, as opposed to “climatic”.
Peaks don’t appear in the right sequence if you remove one.
Mountains help control weather patterns. Whether patterns exist anymore is the nature of the apocalyptic fight.
I took the mountain splitting in half as a reference to Prophecy, although I’m not in a position to look up the exact reference at the moment. Ezekiel, maybe?
Also, Zechariah 14:3-5:
“There’s a new seraph in town”
Wish we could have seen Gadiriel dispatching that pre-Socratic host.
The secret kabbalistic orgy of minds, presently spanning Uriel – Sohu – Aaron – Ana – Erica – Dylan, is therefore able to reach beyond distance and death.
If Dylan is currently occupying one of those posh villas in hell, still committed to his agendas and exerting influence over Erica, the future may look even less certain.
I don’t think he gets a villa. He was an asshole, but not nearly evil enough for them. I mean, he doesn’t exactly compare to Hitler, you know?
I’d prefer to sidestep Godwin’s Law by presuming that there are many villas in Thamiel’s house.
Of course that Dylan is a /different/ kind of megalomaniac psychopath than Hitler,
but what sets him apart is being able to tap a SCABMOM which extends to Sohu and Uriel
(and Ana, who’s about to confer with Metatron) — likely a gateway to seriously strong power.
“BEYOND DISTANCE AND DEATH” means that Dylan has not yet been removed from the chessboard.
Given Dylan’s goals — his shtick is razing the “system” down to the ground, cleverly using
any power he lays his hands on — he may well become one horseman of the apocalypse.
Dylan does not even /think/ that what will replace the system he razes to the ground, will be good.
He is a force of destruction and he enjoys every minute of it.
Dylan can no longer speak Names, so I predict that the ground zero of the book will be what happens to Erica.
In the overt meaning, I presume Erica has survived that fire (McCarthy’s defenestration didn’t break one of his bones).
In the kabbalistic meaning, “I Am Erica” is swayed by Dylan and his cynical and egocentric destructiveness.
But on the other side of her SCABMOM, Erica is also swayed by Ana and her kind and altruistic constructiveness.
The final answer shall no doubt have to come from herself.
So what shall be the outcome for America? I cannot wait to see it in the last chapter on May 14th!
Legend says the merely human dead can speak Names.
Wow. Only 2 more chapters left and so many questions still left unanswered. I think we should start making a list of all of the things that haven’t been explained yet, and have to be explained in the final climax.
There is one in the comments to the previous chapter
So Thamiel is the left hand of god, and Neil Armstrong is the right hand of god.
Can someone explain the meaning/significance of god’s left and right hand?
From Chapter 13:
From Chapter 20:
“Look, here on the right side we have all of the things we consider good. Glorification of God. Virtue. Prayer. Service.” He moved to the other half of the sheet. “And here on the left side we have the opposite of those things. God being glorified less than He might otherwise be. Virtue that falls short of the goal. Not serving people even when they deserve to be served. My brothers, all of our actions have to be to some end. Right now we’re aiming towards the things here on the right. But instead, we could just as well aim at these other things, here on the left.”
“But,” said Raphael, “the left is the side with sin and mockery of God and so on. Are you sure you didn’t mean to point to the right instead?”
“Maybe he means our right and his left,” proposed Haniel helpfully.
So what about the third time Thamiel visited Sohu?
Also, if Sohu is Married to Uriel, why didn’t she warn him of the missile? Is her marriage as uselessly unreliable as Aaron and Ana’s? Was Uriel’s death part of the plan? I can’t see how…
Sohu might have been trying to let him know.
Chapter 63 says “Something was gnawing at the corner of the archangel’s mind, trying to grab his attention, but there was too much work to let himself get distracted. ”
He was busy assessing threats from hungry farmers whose goats had just had their young, and hemisphere-crashing red wheelbarrows.
Hmm… maybe. I thought it was just the awareness of the middile, but ok. I really don’t like how telepathy works in this book: either it is extremely unreliable or it transmits flawlessly long random strings of letters without firther context.
Substituting “letters” with “statements” or perhaps “facts”, that is an oddly apt description of (my experience of) human memory. Perhaps telepathy is as horribly unreliable as regular cognition, but you have access to two (or more) brains, and two “minds” steering the access.
PS: if what you day is true, it should be explicit in the text
Fiction is not meant to be explicit like a technical manual.
I’m not asking for a full manual on how the universe of Unsong works. I’m only asking for two sentenced saying something like: “Uriel, I tried to warn you of the danger! THERE ARE MANY ALARMS AND WARNINGS, I CAN’T PAY ATTENTION TO THEM ALL; I MUST HAVE MISSED IT”.
Some things should be explicit, especially if they explain why the story departs from what the reader expects to be true.
The climactic final battle is not the best time for characters to go back and review plot points from a few pages ago.
IMO the aftermath of such battle is a very good place to go back and review some plot points before heading of for the next climatic battle.
THARMAS was down so they couldn’t see where the missile was going, right? So Sohu didn’t know.
I think the going theory is that TCK (who is TOK in some form) took Uriel temporarily off the board to get Thamiel on the offensive and therefore set himself up to get down to hell and destroy it while Thamiel wasn’t there.
He may need some of the cometspawn down there too which leads me to expect that TCK is gonna kill them, so they die, and curse his name, and end up in hell. I’m also thinking that Sohu is gonna take him out, as she’s the only one who can plausibly do it.
Thatmas went up again and was showing the new trajectory of the ICKM
Aaaaaahhhhh, thank you!!
the whole rest of the story is going to be told in the next two chapters, one of which is going to be read aloud (both stated in the authors note). The last chapter obivously then has to be at least relatively short. So is chapter 71 going to be REALLY long? are we going to have two interludes, each of which are also long-ish? i really dont get how hes going to tie up more than a tiny number of strings in a maximum of four more chapters.
I don’t think all “strings” will be tied up. I predict that the major plot points will resolve, that will will know the near term fates of the major characters, that we will know the near term fate of the world, and that we will not know the ultimate answer to the problem of evil. We also will not know everything that every interested reader would like to know about every person and place mentioned in the text.
I agree with Quixote: not all strings will be tied, and they shouldn’t.
But there are some things I feel are fundamental and should be tied:
1) How does American Pie tie into the End of the World? Also, why dies Father Ellis know the song is a prophecy?
2) so who is TOK? (pun intended)
3) Will THARMAS become useful? Probably, as since Caelus finished the merge with Sarah, it must have discovered hundreds or thousands of names, sole of the useful.
4) Why did Vihaan commit suicide?
5) Why did Sohu’s eyes “glaze over” when she used the Vital Name? Was it just the effect of using the Name?
6) Is there any reason for all the coincidences in the story (i.e. Aaron gets the Vital Name, Aaron knows someone who independently discovered the SKabMOM ritual, the first 3 names Sarah discovers turn out to be really useful, Aaron meets Jane at the Angel Reserve, Mark is on board of the Not A Metaphor with Demon blood)
7) Related to the previous one: Where is Raziel?
8) Also related to number 6: Is there any rhyme or reason to Dylan’s crazy plan? Like getting Mark out of the prison and inventing a weird ritual with Malia’s blood?
9) Is the Captain Metatron? Is he possessed by Metatron? How did the Captain know Father Ellis? What was Father Ellis doing on the ship? Is the Captain the Comet King? If so, why didn’t he warn Ana that she would be the only one operational when the ship crossed the canal? Also, he would know Lin would die. Did he just accept it as a necessary sacrifice to save Father Ellis?
10) How will the Cometspawn die?
11) When was the third time Thamiel visited Sohu?
12) What were the exact terms of Robin’s deal with Thamiel?
NOT A METAPHOR contains all the letters in METATRON (leaving AHOP). Not sure what to make of this.
Obviously where they go for breakfast: The Anational House of Pancakes.
I mentioned this a bit ago, and maybe other commenters did the same even earlier, but “not a metaphor” anagrams to “apho metatron” which means “where is metatron” in Hebrew…
Re 6, I think Aaron meeting Jane at the Angel Reserve is (implicitly) explained: he was trapped at a secure facility someone is breaching, and after using the name he was trapped at a secure facility someone is breaching. Someone pointed it out at the time in the comments of that chapter.
Yes, I agree with you that it’s been explained. Point 6 is not about the individual events, it’s about the series of coincidences needed for Aaron and the Vital Name to fall in the Comerspawn’s hands and for Ana to be jn a position to catch the Leviathan. Are those “just coincidences” or is there anyone pulling the strings behind the curtain (Raziel, a ritual magician, God, etc…)?
This is Unsong. No specific agency is required for there to be coincidences that totally aren’t, BNIEAC.
Good list, but I interpreted the three useful names Sarah discovered as just being the *useful* names (unlike the silly moon-finding sort) that Sarah discovered; don’t think this needs explanation.
Sorry, hit publish too quickly, I mean Sarah presumably found other less useful names she didn’t bother to pass on to Ana.
Even if she’s found other Names, the name that calls the winds is a little too convenient and contrived. But that’s probably a minir point :). You’re right and we shoud assume that she’s found other, less useful, names.
We just got a scene from her last day in the Gulf, but we didn’t see her leave. I’m guessing Thamiel’s visit is after the SKABMOM ritual.
Um, excuse me.
Forgot another question (but I don’t think we’ll see this answered): During the UU choir session Aaron thinks (Aaron the character, not the narrator) abou the fact that he has used names in a way that has caused giant catastrophes. What was he talking about? Was teh catastrophe something like breaking up with a girlfriend or something more important?
This story had a prologue. I assume it will also have an epilogue.
I can’t believe this. Uriel finally told a superb knock-knock joke! Sohu’s prophecy is now partially fulfilled:
“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.”
Well, the one he did in Madrid was a real killer.
Yes — came here to say this.
With all the plot & puns, it’s easy to overlook Uriel’s astonishing personal (angelic?) growth, which is real point of the chapter.
Now, if everyone else gets similar character development, does that mean Aaron will stop being an asshole?
I’m confused about how the divine light is exhausted now. Before, I thought it was because the divine light was being filtered through Uriel’s celestial machinery, and so he was concerned that he could run out of the relatively little amount that came through the sephirot. But the machine is gone now and the demons and angels are so strong because the light was coming in at full strength. What limits the amount of divine light now? Or is this maybe a new plot point; shouldn’t there be divine light constantly in a divine creation?
I think it means that Uriel’s personal stash of divine light is exhausted and/or Sohu’s stash is exhausted. There is unlimited divine light, but they don’t control it anymore.
So said undead Arthas, smiting down an ogre?
I read “amendment” and spent a confused second thinking “wait, what does that have to do with quartering soldiers in private homes?”
I also made that mistake…
Yeah, he… shouldn’t be able to do that, should he? You can’t just… give God a new name, right?
More important than that! He can go back in time and retroactively add book to the Bible. So… Is Unsong a Time Travel Story?
No, he only added it going forward. From that point on, that book was always a part of the Bible.
This is confusing. Time travel is confusing. Therefore, this is timetravel :p Your interpretation (which is also my interpretation, the previous comment was a joke) is great because it explains why other kabbahlists didn’t find this name before Ana: the name has only existed after 2001, long after prople had stopped looking fir names in the Bible and name generation turned into a brute force search.
From Chapter 5:
So it seems like it was added going forward, and people noticed that you suddenly had things added to the Bible.
So does that mean that the Longer Ending of Mark will suddenly become significant in the next couple chapters?
John 7-8 seem more relevant when fighting a representation of Justice.
I think Ana got the name from some sort of analysis of all the late additions, so there probably isn’t too much more to pull from them.
Maybe the name already existed but didn’t have that effect? He did say he created a new ritual, not that he created a new name…
So, who failed to notice that a lightning Pokemon could have been made.
Does Pokemon even exist in this universe?
I was thinking PK = psychokinesis; PK Thunder, anyone?
Yeah I was a bit disappointed by its absence 🙁
Also, kek kek.
At first I thought the same, but the ch in pikuach is kh not tch.
“You teach me and I’ll teach you” fits Sohu’s and Uriel’s relationship pretty well.
This… this made my day.
I think it’s fascinating that the other head of Thamiel reacted in this scene (for the first time) with “confusion and excitement”. Gives a bit of a hint as to what went wrong with Thamiel in the first place.
I’m reminded of the fight with Evil near the end of Time Bandits.
This was pretty inspiring.
The watchers-suddenly-coming-to-help thing felt kind of stereotypically feel-good, though I guess that’s not unreasonable (and it did yield happiness for me reading)
is the implication that *she* is God, so Bring It?
Either that, or a Matthew 5:30 reference.
A reference to Matt 5:30 would make a lot of sense.
I don’t think so, since she is not God, and blasphemy against God probably does not aid in a battle against an aspect of God. I thought she was saying that she had no need for a left hand.
I think neither: she’s saying that left hands can be removed. (“I will recarve God without that facet.”)
Er, maybe that’s what JJR meant, in which case my apologies.
Sohu and Erica both injected a “bah” into the ritual at the exact same place… Sohu didn’t when he married Aaron, though.
If Uriel’s never gone three hours without a catastrophic problem to fix, how was he able to make time to attend Madrid? Can he just stop in the middle of a meeting to spend some subjective time fixing things?
That, or stop paying attention in the middle of the meeting long enough to reboot Peru or whatever. Which would be totally in character for him given how he behaves in the company of people.
I really hope this means we’ll get to see a conversation between Uriel and Aaron, because I think that would be a real hoot.
[UM. I WAS GOING TO. BUT THEN THE JET STREAM STARTED FLOWING THE WRONG WAY AND I HAD TO FIX IT. I THINK I JUST GAVE JOHN OF PATMOS A BUCKET OF PSILOCYBE MUSHROOMS AND TOLD HIM TO WRITE WHATEVER CAME TO MIND.]
Hah! I KNEW it!
I’m not sure if this is an original conjecture, but I haven’t seen it in the comments I’ve read so here goes:
Leviathan eats Thamiel.
Sohu got her left hand eaten by a fish. Thamiel is the left hand of God. Something something metaphors and magic and God’s left hand gets eaten by the biggest fish around.
The SCABMOM chain will be involved and hopefully every link plays a role. Sohu has the metaphorical stump. Uriel seems to be with Sohu now, so his role is tied to hers. Ana and Not a Metaphor reach Leviathan. Erica and/or Dylan make use of their presence in hell.
Aaron provides some sweet, sweet whale puns. Or maybe just one really good one.
(What if the solution to theodicy is also the mother of all whale puns?)
If it turns out to be a whale of a pun, all whale that end whale I guess.
Here are a couple more wacky ideas.
– – –
From the Talmud, Baba Batra 74b-75a: “Gabriel is to arrange in the future a chase of Leviathan.”
The Captain is Gabriel.
He tends to speak in a terse, moralistic, and/or authoritative manner. Y’know, like an angel. Also he’s big and always wears shades to cover his angel eyes. We never saw Gabriel die.
On the other hand, he came up with the idea to steal All Your Heart. If there is any situation where stealing can be justified, stealing from a brutal warlord as part of a plan to save the world might be it. But angels in the unsongverse tend not to think with that kind of nuance. Same goes for convincing his crew to join him by telling them they might get rich.
On the other other hand, those counterarguments apply to the Captain=Metatron theory as well. (Maybe not to the Captain=TCK theory.) If Gabriel has been fallen for a while, he might have gained some mild ability for strategic thinking. We haven’t seen that from Prindiel or Amoxiel, but maybe it’s different for archangels.
– – –
Thamiel took the Number of the Beast in this chapter. One of his defining traits is that he is two, not one — plural. In Hebrew, the plural of beast is behemoth.
Thamiel is Behemoth.
It seems there are multiple versions of an end-of-days story where Behemoth and Leviathan meet in battle and both die. In one version, they fight, but then their Creator kills them with his mighty sword*. In another, they kill each other — Behemoth gores Leviathan with his horns (Thamiel’s bident), and Leviathan does Behemoth with his fins.
This last possibility would be a variant of my previous conjecture. Leviathan takes care of Thamiel, but not by eating.
*This could mean a lot of things. The “Creator’s sword” could metaphorically be an archangel (Gabriel, Raziel, Metatron, Uriel via Sohu) or half-archangel (TCK). If there is some excuse to drop the “s”, then “sword” becomes “word”, and it’s the HaMephorash.
Gadiriel and Samyazaz were both high-powered angels who’ve learned human-level craftiness from living among humans. If Gabriel survived the war with Thamiel, he has lived among humans for about the same length of time and would presumably have learned about as much as they did. Easily enough for him to be able to play the part of the Captain.
A very interesting theory, but if so, what’s his connection to Father Ellis?
I’m not sure how they initially met. Maybe TCK introduced them? But regarding them being on the ship together, here’s something:
In Luke 1, Gabriel foretells the birth of John the Baptist, and says “he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias.” Many have noted the Ellis/Elijah/Elias connection, but when he joins Not a Metaphor, he goes by his first name. In Chapter 48, Simeon recounts that the Captain told his crew they were headed to California to pick up his priest friend John. That was Gabriel foretelling John’s berth.
Oh wow. That Luke 1 passage? There’s a painting of it by some guy named William Blake.
The Captain being Gabriel makes a lot of sense. A perfect time for him to appear, at last…
there’s a separate dual number; 2 doesn’t take the plural, but the dual.
The English language contrasts dual and plural in very few words, but more than zero. Consider both vs. all – French doesn’t have a word for “both” and says “all two” the same way as “all three”. Or consider either of them vs. any of them.
In Hebrew there is a special suffix for dual plural (as opposed to regular plural):
Just how many people are chained in SCABMOM now, and does the number have significance?
Every number has significance, though 4, 10, and 22 are the best ones.
(But I count: Uriel – Sohu – Aaron – Ana – Erica – Dylan, which is six.)
Not in the *chain* per se, but Sarah (Tharma now?) is in there, too.
So that would make it 7 overall. Need three more to make it 10.
New crackpot theory – when the Comet King rebuilds the world and God without the Left Hand, he would need to build a new Tree of Life. Maybe a bunch of individuals correctly interconnected by a bunch of SCABMOMs can become the basis for forming the new sepiroths?
It seems to me that the target number is 8, not 10. It looks like all four Zoas and their emanations are being connected, which means that the only missing member is THARMAS. Of course, Sarah now has a connection of another sort to THARMAS, so maybe that’s good enough.
And if we count that Sarah-Tharmas link, then indeed the graph forms the Dynkin diagram E_8 like I was talking about earlier. Obviously not a coincidence. 😛
Interesting! I wasn’t familiar with this, but now I see in some previous comments sections how this has been pieced together.
To get to 10, might we add Ololon=Robin and Milton=Jala?
One might say Uriel and Sohu used its Killing Form on Thamiel.
The valley just north of pike’s peak is called “Bottomless pit”! Definitely not a coincidence.
So with UNSONG ending, and HPMORR behind us, whats the next story to follow? Who is picking up the gauntlet?
Worm 2 should be starting soon.
Oh, hell yeah.
You have to enjoy the 69 before you get to the climax.
Scott is love.
omfd I just noticed the 616 – So apparently there are disagreements about the exact numeric value of the beast, Thamiel being the hipster chose the obscure one that nobody has probably even heard about and obviously got it wrong because we know that William Blake was right about everything.
Pike’s Peak has been split in two. A “pike” is a kind of spear. A spear that’s split in two is a bident.
This is not a coincidence because nothing is ever a coincidence.
Ha! Ana said she thought the Apocrypha might be later additions to the nature of reality!
My biggest hope for the remaining two chapters is a St. Thomas More whale pun.
I get to say it!
THE END IS NIGH!
This was good. Not permanently getting rid of Thamiel because you can’t, Evil will always come back. But that’s the part of the story to be taken up by someone else. Very Tolkien 🙂
And I really, really liked Neil Armstrong and the people of the city of St Francis appearing.
Also Cpt. Christopher Pike.
*sigh* Nooooo. The citation form of Greek verbs is not the infinitive, but the first person singular: apokalyptô means “I reveal” and “I am revealing”. What the book is named is the noun, apokalypsis, “revelation”. (-ti- regularly becomes -si- in Greek except where -ti- was created by slightly later processes.)
That, on the other hand, is sublime.
Hah. Knew Uriel would get knock-knock jokes eventually. Bending words into other words is half of what Kabbalah is all about, after all :P.
Speaking of which!
Overtly, the meaning of ‘BNIAC’ is “because nothing is a coincidence.”
Kabbalistically, the meaning of ‘BNIAC’ is “the human attempt to understand the mind of God.”
This we derive from B-N-C, which is closely related to the name of the Sephirah of understanding Binah, B-N-H. It is related through the swap of the letter ‘H’ for ‘C’ – that is, of the Monogrammaton for the initial of the highest Sephirah, Keter, the source of thought and spark of inspiration. Keter is the first step, but nevertheless a full step after the entire Endless Light above. In other words, the replacement of the infinite and ineffable concept of God above Keter with the merely human. This becomes more clear when examining the pronunciation, bee-nee-aak, which differs from “beenah” by the replacement, again, of H for K, and again by the addition of “ee” representing “I” – the internal biases of the speaker and reader.
(This is, naturally, not a coincidence, BNIAC.)
I made a list of the initial letters of the chapters and interludes. In each case, I took the first letter of the body text, including locations when not given in small bold italics. For example, for Interlude Pe (The 80s and 90s) I used the W from Washington, not the P from President.
The English letters aren’t a palindrome and I don’t see how the Hebrew ones could be. I haven’t tried to assign Hebrew letters to the English letters (barring the ten given in the song), nor done any kind of analysis (anagrams, avgad, gematria, rot13, etc).
To see the table properly, take the text below and copy it into a text editor – I used Notepad. The pipes indicate book transitions, the round brackets indicate the unknown Hebrew letters, the asterisks indicate the halfway point and the question marks indicate uncertainty about the English letter. For Interlude Tsadi, I took the N from part III, the first part about the 90s, because it seemed like the most reasonable way to divide Pe and Tsadi.
Tav-Resh-Hay-Hay-Yud-Tav-Mem-Tav-Vav-Kuf-( – – – – – |
T R E E I T M T W C T S G S W R |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 |
P W F B T W E A C T B O S C T S B I S C S B A H |
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36**37 38 39 40 |
T C T T S C E U R T W W A S O G S W W I M I B S B G O N |
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 |
T I ? ? )
69 70 71 72
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 8 9 10 11 12 13 | 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 |
R T T T L Y T | I L A I F A | P T I W N? T I I T |
The prologue starts with I.
I’m partial to “the reason evil exists is that making the world contain the S good S would require people who F B the world…”
In 2014, Metafilter users successfully decoded the majority of a 697-letter notarikon prayer left behind by a Metafilter poster’s grandmother who died many years earlier.
Maybe we should post this to Metafilter and see how far they get!
There are combinations that appear several times, such as C-T (“contain things”? 4 times), T-W (“the world”? 3 times), S-B (3 times), G-S (2 times), S-C (3 times).
Could the beginning be “The reason evil exists is that making the world contain things solely good …”
20-21-22-23 is B-T-W-E = “bring the world’s end”?
It is possible Scott doesn’t really have the explanation, just the start of it, and want us to try to come up with something, because Adam Kadmon…
Also, if we threat the first letters of the interludes as parts of the notarikon, then the beginning reads, maybe, “The real reason that evil exists is that…”.
GS – God said?
SB – Sacred Books?
T R E E
1 2 3 4
W E A C T
22 23 24 25 26
Probably not relevant to anything, though it stood out.
The reason evil exists is to make the world contain the stories Greek scribes would write.
Why? Because Theodicy is an Epic.
Would Scott describe Homer as a scribe?
On the reddit thread, I gave a couple variations. My favorite so far is “The reason evil exists is to make the world contain the stories Greek storytellers would recite,” but “scholar” is almost as plausible.
The last two letters are A and E. Almost certain.
Pretty sure the next line is something starts “Perfect worlds fail because they would each contain the same boring old stories…” After that, it’s pretty hard, but my best guess so far is something like, “containing the same boring idiotic saintly cretins somehow becoming a hero.”
This is very convincing!
“would each contain” would not work, since the letters are W – E – A – C, unless we could use several consecutive notarikon letters for one word (EA->EACH), which is unlikely I think. But the gist of your idea is very plausible
Of course one could add filler words too:
“…would each always contain…” or similar
Yeah, I do that a lot. In my head the A was ALL, not always, but all my ideas have close variation that are in the same ballpark of plausibility.
Specific Prediction Thread
The last battle being mostly done we can now expect to see the aftermath. If you want to make a specific prediction if you want to make a prediction and earn kleos and lifelong honor for your prognosticative prowess this may be your last chance. Next week things will be revealed and it will be commentary not prediction.
Problem of evil
– will not be definitely answered and revealed to the readers
The divine name
– Ana will receive it from Metatron
Identity of the Captain: TCK / Metrtron / Other
– TCK (or fragment thereof)
Identity of The Other King: TCK / the other one / a third choice
– the other one
Fate of hell
– it will be destroyed
Fate of the world
– it will not be destroyed to the extent of being unrecognizable.
– It will not become our world.
Low confidence on both
Aaron / Ana not happening
Aaron / Sarah not happening
Aaron / Jane (jianxiang) West low confidence but this one
Ana / Simon not happening
Other categories that are important?
Your own predictions?
– problem of evil: will not be answered (80%), Scott wants to reuse the SSC Job post (15%) or something else (5%)
– Shem Hamephorash: Ana will receive it from Metaron (90%)
– Identity of TOK: 60% Acher, 40% TCK, 5% someone else. Everything points towards Acher except for the fact that Vihaan was apparently working for TOK and I can’t understand why this would be true if TOK is not TCK. Or maybe TCK is the Captain and Vihan is comuujicating with the Captain? But if it is so, how come TOK uses the ICKM exactly when Tharmas js desttoysd? Is Sarah spying for TOK independently of Vihan? If so, by destroying Uriel’s machine (and possibly confounding the name ou of Dohu) they control the fastest name producing machine possible. The sparrow stuff can explain both Acher (biblical story) or TCK (Robin)
Fate of the world: will become our world – names stop working, physics starts working again (60%)
Fate of Hell: will be destroyed (80%). Conditional on being destroyed, it will use a SkabMOM chain to get the Shem Hanephorash into Hell (70%). Evidence in favor? Why did Metatron took the Name from TCK when he was no linger pure? Because if he was no longer pure, he was in danger of going to Hell and use the Name to destroy Hell, which would break the balance of the world or something. Metatron probabky doesn’t even know about the SKsbMOM and will give Ana the Name and only understand his mistake when it’s too late.
Ships: won’t predict ships
Is Sarah plotting something? she wants to take over the world (15%) or she is in league with TOK (15%)
Dylan had a secret plan all along that involved killing Malia (30%). Conditionsl on that being true, his death was according to the plan, as was the fact that Nark would end up in the boat with the Demon blood (80%)
The real meaning of the American Pie prophecy will not be explained in the story (70%).
Aaron will still be useful (defined broadly) (70%).
The Cometspawn (except for Sohu) will die, cursing TCK’s name in a literal way (80%). Conditional on they dying Aaron will kill TOK by fooling him jnto reciting a fake name with the Mortal Name embedded as a substring (5%).
Metatron will talk to Ana through the Captain (90%). The Captain is TCK (30%), some nobody Metatron found in the Desert and struck a deal with (30%), literally Metatron (20%)
There will be no time travel in Unsong (80%).
The whole book is a hallucination while Aaron is tripping on some ‘shrooms (10%)
Grab bag of predictions:
Hell is revealed to be fake in some sense. (20%)
Raziel shows up or becomes a plot point again (20%)
John Ellis shows up, possibly as Elijah/Sandalphon (20%)
Wall Drug does not return in a meaningful way (90%)
TOK is TCK, basically (70%)
Captain is God/Metatron, basically (60%)
No major romances happen (60%)
Sarah is up to something (60%)
Prophecy of cometspawn death comes true literally, possibly ex-Sohu (90%)
Conditional on hell being destroyed, the SCABMOM chain is used (80%)
The chapters spell the HaMephorash (90%)
Conditional on the above, whatever precise meaning or acronym makes up the name will be more of an Easter egg than a plot point (60%)
I’ve entertained the notion that the notarikon which forms the Shem HaMephorash ends with, or is in some way, a curse or “curse word.” (Most likely “Hell,” frankly.)
In a sense, then, speaking Shem HaMephorash would be “cursing their Father’s Name.”
The Shem HaMephorash is not a notarikon for anything that we are ever told the expansion of in the text (70%, but I do expect the chapters themselves to spell it out)
Sandalphon shows up in a meaningful way (40%)
Conditional on the above, Sandalphon is a character we have already met (90%)
The remaining two chapter titles finish the stanza (40%)
Vihaan’s motives are already known to somebody who will explain them to us (50%, higher if you delete the “already”)
Conditional on the above, that somebody is Sarah (80%)
The last few paragraphs will include at least one pun or other piece of wordplay whose setup began before Kings (70%)
The Shem Hamephorash is just a normal random string of letters with no hidden meaning (90%). It mightmatch the chapter initials of course.
I think the chapter initials thing is gonna maybe happen, as an easter egg we’ve already caught.
It’s been mentioned that Names might all be notarikons, but frankly not one single Name that does anything at all is one that we know an expansion for. If HaMephorash is one, it should be no more apparent (and in fact less so, simply due to its length).
In universe, the Theonomics have probably already explored the space of the non-random strings quite well… After all, they’re few compared to the random ones.
Hell is revealed to be fake in some sense. (20%) WRONG
Raziel shows up or becomes a plot point again (20%) WRONG
John Ellis shows up, possibly as Elijah/Sandalphon (20%) WRONG
Wall Drug does not return in a meaningful way (90%) RIGHT
TOK is TCK, basically (70%) RIGHT
Captain is God/Metatron, basically (60%) RIGHT
No major romances happen (60%) RIGHT
Sarah is up to something (60%) WRONG
Prophecy of cometspawn death comes true literally, possibly ex-Sohu (90%) RIGHT
Conditional on hell being destroyed, the SCABMOM chain is used (80%) SOMEWHAT IFFY BUT WILL SAY RIGHT
The chapters spell the HaMephorash (90%) RIGHT
Conditional on the above, whatever precise meaning or acronym makes up the name will be more of an Easter egg than a plot point (60%) WRONG!
A long shot (5%), but:
Uriel has created the SKabMOM ritual specifically to destroy hell. Since Metatron takes the Shem Hanephorash away from whoever is no longer pure, no one who dies and goes to hell can use the Name in hell. You need to be in hell and receive the Name from someone pure who is still on Earth. This might be the importance of the Eclipse chapter, in which Sohu’s vision was not very actionable after all… But after TCK is dead and faced with the prospect of having to part ways with Sohu, he remembers the Vision (I’m assuming he does remember the vision) and stays up all night thinking about how he’s going to fool Metatron into allowing the Name to fall into the hands of someone impure enough to go to Hell. After that, Uriel (who has learned to have faith after all) just waits for God/the universe/Raziel to contrive a series of coincidences that will get the Explicit name into someone who is linked to someone who might go to hell. Everything is going according to the plan, and that’s why Uriel is so optimistic.
Alright, lets make a fool of myself.
1. The first letter of chapters form the Shem haMephorash but are not the first letters of some sentences.
On re-read, this comment says it best
2. Caelius, who has conveniently been left alone with THARMAS, Sarah with no body to stop him and Aaron, enacts some complicated plot.
We haven’t seen much acting from Caelius yet, mostly just reacting to stuff happening. Maybe the fact that he survived the blast, even as a Cometspawn, is an unusual event.
He’s also the one who had suggested a lobotomy, although that may well have been for technical reasons.
3. Identities: TOK is TCK (or fragment), the Captain is Metatron (or possesed by Metatron a few times).
4. Sarah/THARMAS finds the Explicit Name and sends it down the SC(K)ABMOM chain.
5. Ana meets Metatron and learns the answer to at least one of the theodicy questions from earlier chapters.
6. Sohu does not die in agony cursing her father’s name.
7. Vihaan and Ellis were (still) worked for TCK until their death.
This doesn’t really explain why Bromis didn’t come back with some interesting info about their communications. But maybe they got distracted far too soon to have been able to search properly.
8. Sarah does not knowingly do something evil/very bad.
9. Fate of the world: Thamiel is eliminated but Hell still exist.
10. Ships: Not a metaphor.
11. Most of the questions people here think Scott can’t answer in two chapters are answered by revealing what TCK has been up to since 2001.
Probabilities: I think 1 and 8 are likely, 2 pretty unlikely (mostly because of how Scott writes these characters and the central topics of this story). 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are somewhere in the middle. Not sure what numbers I’d put on those.
The Other King is Peter Singer
Oooh I like this.
“Jala, we meet again above the clouds… You’ve read my book… I did the math. For the greater good you know you must die!”
Or, even better:
“But Pete, why are you crucifying people?” “Well, we need to find a new Messiah, and some sources say he last one died at the Cross and ressurrected, so I’m crucifying lots of people and monitoring the graves for any evidence of resurrection. My utility calculations say that’s the right thing to do.”
Problem of evil
-Ana will formulate an answer in the midst of everything she learns from the story (80%)
-Nothing in the story will evaluate the accuracy of any character’s potential answer to the Problem of Evil (95%)
Fate of Hell
-Hell will be reformed or destroyed (60%), but I have no idea of the relative odds of those
Fate of the World
-It will not become our world (75% – it just seems like too much of a reset button for this story, but my hunches could be wrong)
-The world does end, but it results in the relatively peaceful Kingdom of God and explains the post facto narration (20%)
Or I suppose Ana could ask and actually hear the Word of God on this, which I feel like still invalidates this prediction. Of course my one attempt at being serious on something SSC related would be terribly wrong.
General question, sorry if this has been addressed before:
Is there any chance that Unsong will be published in print form when it is finished? I would personally buy an advance copy.
I just thought of a rather frightening possible answer to the problem of evil.
Q: Why do bad things happen to good people?
A: They don’t.
God extends deontological protection to the righteous. For everyone else, he doesn’t care; they get whatever the world gives them, good or bad.
God does not grade virtue on a curve.
They enslave their childrens’ children who make compromise with sin.
Isn’t this just true? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and all that. “There is none who is righteous, no, not one.” (What never? Well, hardly ever.)
But I don’t think this is the Unsong answer, because Ana knows the New Testament’s status better than anyone who doesn’t know Uriel. She definitely knows this answer and doesn’t consider it the answer.
Children conceived with congenital conditions falsify that.
Unless you believe in the strong form of Original Sin.
(In-story, I suppose, you could also postulate they’re P-zombies just like Uriel made the East Africans?)
I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
Ana is near a golem, has a black opal with demon blood. Aaron is near a golem and has a throne made of black opal. Maybe if he can spill some demon blood on it he can teleport to the Not a Metaphor? Or maybe rub the Thamiel-blood-stained Sigh on the throne? I don’t know why he would do it, but it’d be cool
Shouldn’t the sword fall into Sohu’s hand, singular?
If divine light reserve is gone, shouldn’t Uriel revert back to normalcase-speech?
He is speaking “though” Sohu, so he speaks in all-caps just like Neil did when speaking through Ken Kesey or Metatron when speaking through Father Ellis.
Oh, you meant in the telepathy with Sohu. Well…
So, ah, what’s up in the strategic angel reserve right about now?
So many angels are mentioned in this chapter that, as several commenters have already noted, many of them probably come from there.
The next chapter starts with a. 99% chance.
The last chapter starts with e. 99% chance.
Ana blinds Nemo 65% chance.
Because Theodicy Is An Epic.
urgggh, that seems not impossible
If your left hand offends you, cut it off. If your left eye offends you, pluck it out.
Plausible, but 99% seems *really badly calibrated* for something that’s unlikely to happen unless your choice for correct read of a super-underconstrained thing is what Scott is actually thinking.
But if that’s your true calibration, I’ll wager on it. Assuming the two are perfectly correlated (they come from the same chain of reasons, obviously), I’ll bet two bucks to the charity of your choice against two hundred to the charity of mine that the remaining two chapters do *not* begin with A and E respectively. (You win on A next and E last, in the vanishingly unlikely but possible event that there are more than two; in the equally unlikely event that there is only one, it doesn’t start with both letters and I win.) I’m willing to adjust the stakes on this, up or down, by an order of magnitude.
I’m not saying I believe those *won’t* be the next two letters – just that I believe there’s a far better than 1% chance that they won’t.
On consideration of the need to offer odds you regard as favorable, I’ll up this – my $5 against your $200, again with the stakes adjustable by up to an order of magnitude in either direction. I’ll also sweeten the deal by offering to pay you directly, against your donation to my chosen charity.
Heck, I’ll do my 10 to your 150 to charities of choice on the same terms, if you’d like. I’m fairly convinced, even, but not close to 99% convinced!
I wish I had more money to gamble. I am extremely confident of this.
Well, I’ll wager 5 of my Internet points against 200 of yours then. 🙂
And my axe!
Or, well, 1/40 of my axe’s Internet points value, anyway.
The Capitanian is the last of the three stages of the Middle Permian. I’m pretty sure this is what it’s named after.
MFW Sarah offers herself up as a sacrifice.
I.E.: The West Kids sacrifice RAM.
Truly, we have come far since the days of Abraham (I think it was Abraham). Back then, we offered to sacrifice ram to save the world, and were politely turned down because it wouldn’t help.
Dylan will trick Thamiel to pronounce the Moral Name.
Or (difficulty level: insane) someone will trick Thamiel to make a kabalistic marriage between his two heads.
eh, Mortal Name
The Moral Name would be even better!
I don’t think Thamiel can use names, but TOK certainly can (he’s a kabbahlist after all). Aaron could trick him into saying the Mortal Name. I’ve proposed it in the previous chapter: Aaron pretends to have the Shem Hamephorash somehow (maybe he received it from Ana after she met Metatron), and after a token amount of resistance, finally gives in and gives TOK a piece of paper with the name. TOK gloats about his victory and starts saying the name, which goes: “ASAD-DEVO-GUVRAH-YEHORAH…” and dies.
Or he does something more creative to make TOK get the name. He thinks: “TOK is the greatest kabbhalist ever, so he is the master of detecting hidden kabbhalistic patterns in reality. I know exactly what to do…”. he gets a tatoo machine and gets someone to write the supposed Shem Hamephorash in his forehead. TOK appears and says: “Aaron Smith-Teller, it’s the END OF THE WORLD and the Shem Hamephorash has revealed itself to me! As was written” Aaron plays dumb, seemingly not recognizing the fact that he has the Shem Hamephorash tatooed on his forehead. TOK says the poisoned name and dies.
So I’m predicting (along, I expect, with others) that today’s chapter will be called “But for another gives its ease” and will perhaps show us Robin (or even TCK himself, if he isn’t occupied elsewhere being Nemo or something) in hell, and next week’s will be called “And builds a heaven in hell’s despair” and show us something like the plan already mooted to speak haMephorash in hell itself.
But I wouldn’t bet much on any of that.
Wel, you got the name right for the first one; so the name for the second one seems like a good bet!
A commenter in the other thread mentions “The Clod and the Pebble” which starts
Still, deducing this with only two chapter titles is pretty good.
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I’m really glad that I could find this chapter here online, I was looking for it for a long time.
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