Picking up where we left off, I consulted a few sources to the confirm the tower of Babel story, and it checks out.
When I say it "checks out," what I mean is that I rate it a True Myth, which means that it is 1) timeless, 2) universal, and 3) happening now. In short, it can't not happen, so long as man is man. It isn't so much that it is part of man's essence, but rather, a proximate consequence of other factors.
Leon Kass, in his comprehensive analysis of Genesis, The Beginning of Wisdom, makes the intriguing point that Babel "is the last episode in the biblical narrative prior to God's call to Abraham."
Thus, it represents the climax of "the universal human story," before the focus narrows to God's dealings with one man and his descendants -- right down to you and I, right now. As such, it is "something of a completion," while marking a transition from universal to particular (even though, from another angle, the story of the ancient Hebrews becomes a new universal).
Therefore, Babel is an end, or it is a link, but only if you want it to be, since you can of course reject the Call and dismiss Abraham: he's not my daddy!
Does this imply a kind of choice between Babel and Abraham? If so, what does this even mean -- again, here and now, for you and I and Here Comes Everybody? (I will resist the temptation to consult Finnegans Wake for obscure references to Babel.)
Well, for Kass, "this tale of the universal city completes the account of the universal human story, with human beings living largely on their own and without divine instruction." It "exposes fully the core of civilization," i.e., man's attempt at auto-civilization without divine tutelage. Again, the latter takes place in the immediate sequel, with Abram.
Big cities. It's tempting to jump straight to these Democrat hellholes of violence and perversion as examples of contemporary Babel. That would be insultaining but facile. Or at least premature. There will be plenty of time to bash the left. But the red/blue divide is obviously a rural/urban divide. Is it also a Babel/Abraham divide?
Babel, the universal city, is the fulfillment of a recurrent human dream, a dream of humankind united, living together in peace and freedom...
How's that working out? And will more social workers help?
For some reason, God objects to the project, probably because he sees where it's headed and would prefer to Make America Great Again:
He apparently does not approve of the prospect of unrestrained human powers, exercised in support of unlimited imaginings and desires. He seems to be worried... about man's boundless capacity to dream up grand projects.... in short, the implied wish to be as gods, with comparable creative power.
A ha! Genesis 3 all over again, only this time collectively.
Kass also sees in the story a subtle commentary on the nature of logos, being that "Speech and language, reason and the arts, are at the heart of the story."
Oddly enough, I was thinking about this just the other day, before revisiting Kass. It was in the context of Genesis 2, where God confers on man the power -- or ability or faculty -- to name.
This is really worth pausing over, because it isn't only full of Mythtery, but in many ways marks the miraculous divide between man and animal, a divide which science cannot explain and will never be able to explain, since it must be presupposed in order for science (and scientists) to exist.
We're taking about universals, for the power to name is a function of the ability to apprehend universals or essences. If I see a "tree" it is because I intuit the nonlocal essence of "treeness." This ability to apprehend universals represents a -- or maybe the -- radical discontinuity between animal and man.
But guess what? This ability is precisely what is denied by modern and postmodern philosophies, which are nominalistic and grounded in the rejection of the transcendent. And once on the nominalist path, it inevitably ends in deconstruction, for which language is fully detached from the things it is supposed to name, and becomes only about itself: words apply only to other words, not to the external -- AKA real -- world.
Time out for a bit of insultainment: it would be interesting to survey how many deconstructionists reside in Red State America. I would estimate that it is about equal to the number of Latinos who insist on being called Latinx.
I need to stop. Errands to run...