— Will Godwin
Evening, May 14, 2017
And the voice said:
[Blowhole-y of holies.]
[Ana! You’re alive!]
[But sort of! Kabbalistic marriage seems to have some hidden features we didn’t realize. All those nights looking for clues in the Bible and we missed a doozy.]
[Should have checked Poe instead.]
[“And not even the angels in Heaven above, nor the demons down under the sea, could ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Anna – ]
[Get a room, you two!]
[Surprised to see me here?]
[I think I died just before Ana did. It seems to have put me inside Ana’s head, and then when Ana transferred into your head, I came with her.]
[There are two different other people inside my head?!]
[Hoo boy, mi compadre, you are not going to like this]
[What? How? Uh, do any of you know what’s going on here?]
[I DO NOT KNOW IF I AM INCLUDED IN “ANY OF YOU” BUT I THINK I HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA. CONSIDER RABBI SHIMON’S WRITINGS ON THE FIVE LEVELS OF THE SOUL. THE FIRST, THE NEFESH, REPRESENTS PHYSICAL LIFE. THE SECOND, THE RUACH…]
[Uriel! What did I tell you about infodumping directly into people’s minds?]
[I DO NOT REMEMBER, BUT I ASSUME IT WAS SOMETHING ABOUT IT BEING VERY EFFICIENT]
[Yeah, when Father killed me, I think I ended up in your mind too. And Uriel with me.]
[So…Ana…Erica…Dylan…Sohu…Uriel…is there anyone else I should know about?]
[Aaaaaaron, you thought you were going to marry everyone except me but I ended up inside your head aaaaannnyway.]
[Sarah? How! I thought you were part of THARMAS]
[I am. THARMAS is with us too. When it was destroyed, we ended up in Sohu, and when she died, we ended up in you. Now we’re together forevvvvvver]
[I’m stuck with seven people in my head?!]
[ACTUALLY, I BELIEVE THE CURRENT SITUATION IS UNSTABLE AND WE WILL GRADUALLY MERGE INTO A SINGLE ENTITY]
[Which of you said that?]
[Wait, which of us said that?]
[Aaron, was that you?]
[Who are we?]
[ALBION-EST, I’M NOT ENTIRELY SURE YET]
[That wasn’t a knock-knock joke!]
[I AM ALMOST CERTAIN THAT IT WAS. ALSO, “IT IS ALBION-D MY UNDERSTANDING]
[All be one and one be all!]
[Wait a second, no, merging into a superorganism with you guys was the worst mistake of my life and I hope I die. Die again. Super-die. Whatever.]
[In William Blake’s prophecies, Albion was the entity formed at the end of time, when all of the different aspects of the human soul finally came together to remake the world.]
[Remake the world?]
[The Comet King will speak the Explicit Name to reshape Hell. But here on Earth, things aren’t great either. Physics is broken, the world is collapsing, the apocalypse is in full swing. We need to make things right. The Comet King told us the Name was a notarikon encoded in the speech Metatron gave Ana. Now all we need to do is speak it.]
[No one except the Comet King can speak the Shem haMephorash!]
[No one except him could speak it. No one except him could see the whole universe at once, understand its joints and facets, figure out how it needed to be broken and remade. But we’re part supercomputer.]
[Yes. This isn’t a coincidence. A supercomputer. An encyclopaedic knowledge of kabbalah and the secret structure of the universe. A passion for revolution. And an answer to the problem of evil. This is what we were made for.]
[There’s someone else we need.]
We all realized it. We all paused, reflecting on what had to be done. We all agreed.
There are many summoning rituals, but one is older and purer than the others. Speak of the Devil, and he will appear.
“Thamiel,” I said.
He appeared before us. Exhausted, wounded, still bleeding ichor from a thousand cuts and bruises. He leaned on his bident like a crutch, limped towards us.
“It’s time,” I said.
The second head turned to me, and the floodgates opened. It started crying and crying, like it would never stop. Finally, it asked, almost as if it didn’t dare hope, “Is it really?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Did I do good?” it asked.
I didn’t answer.
“So many centuries,” it pled. “So much misery, so many tears, so many years of suffering. You couldn’t imagine it, nobody could imagine it, but I did what God wanted, I did my duty, but you have to tell me, please, at the end of everything, did I do good?”
I thought about everything I had witnessed. I thought back to Malia Ngo, the scariest person I had ever met, scarier in her way than the Comet King even. I thought of her last revelation, that even though she was the daughter of Thamiel, everything she had done, she had done for the love of good. I thought of Dylan Alvarez, who I had known only as a bogeyman on the news shows. He too had only wanted to do what was right. And I thought of the Other King, the crimson-robed monster who had killed the Cometspawn with barely a second thought, and how everything he did he had done out of love. I thought of all the villains I had feared, revealed to be unsung heroes all along. And with a jolt, I realized that it was all true, the tzimtzum, the shattering of the vessels, the withdrawal of divinity to hide God from himself. I started to laugh. The dark facet of God, call it evil, call it hatred, call it Thamiel, was hollow, more brittle than glass, lighter than a feather. I started laughing that Ana had wasted her question on the existence of evil, when evil was thinner than a hair, tinier than a dust speck, so tiny it barely even existed at all. Evil was the world’s dumbest joke, the flimsiest illusion, a piece of wool God pulled over His own eyes with no expectation that it could possibly fool anybody.
I didn’t say anything to Thamiel.
He sobbed, then handed me the bident. I took it from its far end, the two points in my two hands, the single-pointed end facing the Devil. A unident. He kept sobbing. I held the unident undaunted. Finally, I thrust it at him, and he disappeared, a puff of smoke, a thread too weak to hold.
[Are you ready?] I asked myself.
[Let’s go] I answered.
I thought again of all I had seen, all I had hoped. Everything that could have been different and everything that couldn’t have been other than it was. I thought of God’s garden of universes, growing out there somewhere, staggering the imagination. I thought of God, and Adam Kadmon, and Thamiel, and the divine plan. My thoughts unfolded into dreams and blueprints and calculations, and I held all of them in my mind at once, a vision like a perfect crystal, a seed transformed into something new and wonderful. I felt a fearsome joy, like nothing I had ever experienced before. I felt the heart of Adam Kadmon beating within me, freed of its constraints at last, a fervent wish to reshape and redeem itself.
My voice only wavering a little, I spoke the Explicit Name of God.
Thank you for reading Unsong.
I have a few extra things I need to take care of. I promised some people a tosafot, and I’m thinking of a couple other very small projects as well. I also have Vague Long-Term Plans to publish this in some more serious way. If you want to be kept up-to-date, please subscribe to the mailing list using the box at the top right of the page.
I have gotten some very vague expressions of interest from some people who claim to represent publishers, and I’ll be gradually looking into those in a way that might take a long time to bear any fruit. In the meantime I will not be authorizing an official print copy. If other people want to make an ebook version, or small-scale non-public print copies in ways that don’t seem like obvious defections against future publishers, I’m okay with that. If you want updates on this kind of thing, subscribe as mentioned above.
Thanks also to everyone who attended the wrap party, thanks to the person who gave me some prints from William Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job, thanks to the person who gave me a full-size functional bronze copy of the sword Sigh, and thanks (I think) to the person who hid six (possibly seven, if we still haven’t found one?) purple Beanie Baby dragons in the house where we had the afterparty. It is not my house and the people who live there are very confused.
Most of you probably know this, but I also write nonfiction and occasional short stories on my other blog, Slate Star Codex. There’s still the Unsong subreddit for anyone who wants to talk about the book more. And you might enjoy some of the other fiction on r/rational.