Having waited so long, I think it is apparent that Chrollo is absent today, so I’ll be running the thread instead. IIRC from last time, he concluded with his wish of towards the creation of a whole new way of being. And so on that note I have a few aspects of Snow Crash that I wanted to discuss. I can direct us back to them if I have to, but this story tree has enough branches that I think it might be best if I run through it once first as it is told before we start trying to pick it apart.
Obviously the most interesting aspect of this is the Asherah virus, but it is quite the oddity. This virus is spread via both biological and linguistic mediums. This makes it a little tricky to keep a handle on. Especially because it emerges in sumerian culture where a significant separation of religion, magic, medicine & aesthetics is impossible without falling victim to some serious distortions in perception*. P.211 So please try to keep in mind that the virus is our focus here as we go through it. I promise I am trying to both minimize time jumps and keep it as bare bones as possible. If im saying it, i think its important, okay?
First the sciencentric tone of the narrative is worth addressing. They acknowledge attempting to bring the more mystical elements down into a more scientific and “possible” way of being understood. Though Juanita calls the most attention to this with her defense of catholicism and the religious in general. Saying something akin to it having a reputation amongst the educated as being for the ignorant because what most experience in church is a surface level practice of pontification, rather than a discussion of the doctrine and beliefs.
And so the story begins…
Hiro protagonist, the protagonist resides in a hyper capitalized world while being employed as a pizza delivery boy for the mafia. Not all that strange, as this narrative has entered into an almost maximus state of governmental atrophy. Inducing a situation where every franchise operation has to either hire out a private security force or maintain their own, as is the case for all the most powerful NGOs. Hiro, who might describe himself as the kind of guy whose presence has the weight of a million bucks bagged in nickles is promptly liquidated from his position in the mafia's elite pizza delivery core after dumping his car in a pool cutting through a yard in an attempt to drop off the merchandise in 30 minutes or less. Forcing him back into the life of a freelance hacker, which as one of the main developers of the metaverse (which exists almost exclusively as a replacement for the previously flat internet), he is uniquely overqualified for.
It is in the metaverse that we encounter the first, or maybe the last, iteration of the Asherah virus. Here it manifests as a cyber drug that is only capable of frying a hacker’s brain, visually dosing them with symbolic representations of machine code resulting in their organics circuiting. This popper as VR info bomb, as well as its material equivalent, is distributed by the Reverend Wayne’s Pearly Gates Pentacostal Church franchise. Though the origins of the virus date about as far back as you can go. Emerging as a metavirus that either bubbles out of the sea of biological information in a complex system, or arrives from space via comet, raido wave etc. In any case, this metavirus is the stimulant to civilization by generating various behaviors to emerge and be carried out in repetition. These behaviors were coined by the sumerians as me, and are essentially a series of instructions for a human to carry out. Instructions are then distributed around whichever city by the local En, an individual who could be tenuously equated to a local priest King, from their location in the Ziggurat which lay at its center.
Numerous records exist of scribes extolling the merits of their city over others, justifying it with regards to the superior qualities of their me. As such, the water deity Enki is recounted as the greatest En for his creation of the best me. Enki was the Summerian god of wisdom, perhaps better understood as the lord of how to do things, or one who can create solutions to impossible problems P.256. Described as an expert in incantations, ‘’word rich’’ and master of all the right commands. In many creation myths, to name something is to create it, to cut if or separate same root as science and scythe it from the background and bring it into being. And so Enki was special because he could create new ‘’me’’. Today, it's rare that names or speech would be seen as anything magical, but saying a name not only evokes it by callings its conception to mind, it decidedly creates that conception in a way that can be communicatively be referred to. Though they are gesturing at something a little more suggestive read commanding. Name shubs which seems to differ from me only in that they must be created and me can spawn randomly* are fictions which make themselves real, me, which the book compares to programs being enacted by the metaverse. The metaverse in this sense is an enormous name shub constantly realizing itself across the network. Following this, myths from Sumeria are of a different nature than those of the greeks or egyptians. They lack in large what we would consider a narrative structure, and are more similar to a list of instructions as events. This is perhaps less odd in light of the fact that the Sumerian word for mind happens to be the same as their word for ear. To hear something was to think it, and to be given instructions was to enact them. Mythologised instructions for baking bread, laying bricks, sowing and reaping fields. All of which in conglomeration is compared to an operating system for their society.
For these reasons Hiro pegs Enki as one of the first sentient Human being, able to issue commands to be followed. A fella with a real knack for coining a phrase. Having no one to interact with causes Enki immense loneliness which motivates him to create the “name shub of Enki”. A self fulfilling fiction which bricks anything trying to run on Sumerian. This forces everyone to think, adapt, and change. A blossoming of thousands of languages and the beginning of languages diverging over space and time.
Synonymous with the biblical babble, the confusion of tongues. It’s a misconception that god knocked down the tower. Rather he confused their speech so they could not continue its construction. another of the many myths of a fall from paradise of which there are many. This one as the Nameshub of Enki reads
once upon a time the was no snake there was no scorpion,
There was no hyena,there was no lion,
There was no wild dog, no wolf,
There was no fear no terror,
Man had no rival.
In those days, the land Shubur0Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the me of prince ship
Uri, the land having all this is appropriate
The Land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the prince defiant, the king defiant,
Eki, the lord of abundance, whose commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who scans the land,
The Leader of Gods,
The Lord of Eridu, endowed with wisdom,
Changed the speech in their mouths, put contention into it,
Into the speech of man that had been one. P.216
Upon hearing this the ability to speak and understand sumerian is lost. Something achieved by slithering through the underlying structures of the brain, sabotaging the capacity like a hacker who gains control of a computer beneath the level of regular user input.
Under the right conditions something can be shown to your eyes or infiltrate through your ears, can dive into these deep structures by passing the higher language functions. Someone who knows the right words or symbols can penetrate all your defenses and sink into your brain stem in such a way that you can't get them out because they have burrowed beneath your own control of your mind, established a hold in your unconscious. All by exploiting the same original structuring paths as the emergent asherah virus.
Clearly parts of sumerian are still comprehensible. The old legends were translated by later cultures with the removal of the odder bits to give them a parsable narrative structure, but the sumerian sensibility had been lost.
Babel refers to a legendary city in Babylon and means gate of god. It’s how god enters our minds, coasting in along these deep structures established through the original emergence of culture. The virus itself changes and hides in our DNA being passed down from generation to generation, coiled around the brainstem like a snake around a tree - waiting to resurface.
Infection with the virus has an effect of bringing about increased promiscuity, a spike in susceptibility to viral ideas, and an increase of irrational behavior. the book establishes the Asherah virus as having six distinct symptoms
1. loss of rational control
2. Domination of emotion leading to hysteria
3. Sporadic physical jerks and twitches
4. Apparent absence of thought or will
6. Automatic speech function, Glossolalia
This last symptom, Glossolalia, is what links the sumerian language with the Asherah virus. Glossolalia is often identified as a neurological phenomenon which is exploited during religious ritual. Plato called it “‘’theomania’’” and it crops up across cultures globally with surprising frequency. Thungus tribesmen say that when a shaman establishes their trance they learn the entire “Language of Nature”, while the Sukuma people of africa refer to it as “Kinaturu”; the language of the ancestors of all magicians. Observing these symptoms in 300 A.D Ebustus had to say of it: the “False prophet begins with the suppression of all conscious thought and ends in a delirium over which they have no control.” 206
Asherah was worshiped widely between india and spain by nearly everyone until the christian era. The exception to this is the hebrews, who ceased the practice after the reforms of hezekiah and Josiah. Prior to, they were a loosely affiliated monolatrist collection of ywhwistic cults with divergent shrines and religious practices where Asherah was celebrated as yahweh’s consort. But Hezekial, under the direction of the Deuteronomic school of Judaism, put a stop to this; centralizing the religion in the temples within cities, and formalizing scripture in a written form. 228 This was done in response to the defeat of king Horsea, who had held the northern kingdom until his defeat by sargon II in 722 bc. A catastrophe which forced the Deuteronomists southward toward Jerusalem. Horsea was, allegedly, enticed away from the path of righteousness by the cult of El. El unsurprisingly worshiped Asherah - whose symbol is a serpent wrapped around a tree. 233 There is strong evidence to suggest a rewriting of the original genesis myth around the time of the Deuteronomists holding power when they penned the book of deuteronomy itself. Hvidberg and Wyatt read this rewriting as a parable for the fall of the king from his sanctuary where Eve, whose name is also evocative of serpents, obtains the forbidden knowledge of good and evil; forever associating her with evil as seduction and corruption: the death of established order.
Here, it's worthy of remembering that the sumerians did not have a conception of good and evil the way we think of it. Rather they had a hierarchy of helpful and harmful interactions with forces, relations that brought on illness or health. The Sumerians had a myth in which Asherah made Enki sick, which Hiro insists must be some kind of allegory for a recursive information process, an account of which follows.
Enki & Ninhursag (Asherah) live in pure clean Dilman. People do not get sick or grow old, and predatory animals do not hunt. However there is no water, so Asherah requests that Enki bring water to Dilman. Enki then masturbates and irrigates the fields with is semen bringing an abundance of crops. However he pronounces a name shub to keep everyone from entering the area because he does not want anyone to take any of it. Asherah ignores this and uses it to impregnate herself and give birth to her daughter Nimu after 9 days. Enki impregnates her and she has another daughter, ninkurra, nine days later. The pattern is again repeated, producing Uttu. This time Asherah advises Uttu to stay in her house. Enki disguises himself and seduces uttu with gifts. This time Asherah steals some semen from between Uttu’s thighs and spreads it on the ground, producing eight plants. Enki eats plants to learn their secrets. Asherah then curses Enki saying “i will not look at thee with the eye of life” and promptly departs just before Enki becomes ill. Eight of his organs begin to fail, one for each plant. Asherah is eventually persuaded to return and she gives birth to eight deities that make up the pantheon of Dilmun (one for each ill organ). Enki is healed and the cycle of incest is broken.
In the genesis myth then, Evil as corruption and seduction becomes something to set oneself against in service of a static stability. additionally evil becomes embodied in snakes and women, eve herself painted as a pitiable victim of it. This justifies ousting asherah from places of worship (as a detractor from Yhvh), the institution of monogamy to fight temptation, as well as the introduction of a codified written cannon. Which prevents the decay present in an oral tradition by relying on a fixed written record in which exacting efforts toward information hygiene was taken whenever it was copied, thus becoming the first ‘’rational religion’’. Pre deuteronomic law said nothing about a monarch, centralized authority was developed to achieve these ends. The book of Deuteronomy which shows a marked shift from the instantiation of religious laws toward laws pertaining to a king training his people, and is the only book of the penateach that refers to the written torah as comprising the divine will. 229
possible language: csharp, relevance: 12
& when he sits on the throne of his kingdom he hall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is changed from levitical priests; and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life , that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them; that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or the left; so that hr may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
Deuteronomy 17: 18-20 revised standard edition.
By ousting asherah from all places of worship via the destruction of outlying cult centers and the centralization in Jerusalem, instituting monogamy, rewriting and reorganizing scripture to include the concepts of good and evil to embody their attitudes, and then codifying it they created a system which utilized people as a vector for self replication. By treating information as a controlled substance they attempted an inoculation against the virus. After deuteronomy, Jews went to synagogue rather than making sacrifices. 228-9
Factioning eventually emerged in three notable groups.
The Sadducees who were materialists and monists.
The Essenes who lived communally and believed physical and spiritual cleanliness were deeply connected. Seeing no difference between infection with a parasite and demonic possession.
The Pharisees who most closely resembled the Deuteronomists, upholding a desire for rigid theocracy and strict adherence to religious law. A stance which brought them into conflict with Jesus who sought to do way with it. Making an attempt to liberate religion from control by the temple “‘’we are not to idolize Jesus because his Ideas stand alone, his church is no longer centralized in one person, but dispersed among all the people.” 401
Fifty days after Jesus' death upon crucifixion, prompted by the chaos produced in cast off tradition, the tongue of eden emerges - an outbreak of Glossolalia. Filled with the holy spirit, Galileans speak and every listener hears their words in the words in their own native tongue. reference-> Acts 2:4-12 revised standard edition An Event providing pentecostals with their name, meaning fiftieth.
However many were still used to the rigid theocracy of the pharisees and resistant to the idea of a popular church. The myth of resurrection was added to the gospels where he returns to organize the Church of the roman empire establishing positions for popes, Bishops and priests. A council of Constantinople purges glossolalia as a practice entirely in 381 A.D.
Pentecostalism however re-emerged in 1900 among a group of bible students in Kansas that started speaking in tongues. A brand of christianity that Reverend Waynes Pearly Gates now controls. Seeing little difference between the sumerian culture and the modern culture where all actions are controlled in bureaucratic fashion through reference to protocols distributed throughout franchises in the form of three ring binders, Rife initiates his plan to spread the virus through the digital and physical drug. After exposure, Rife shuttles victims to his makeshift mobile sea fortress the Raft. Which consists of an assemblage of anything that will float strung together by a population of people from all over the globe, any of whom within earshot can be directed by his sumerian commands.
Juanita, following in the footsteps of her own sumerian goddess* Innana (who stole me from enki to share with her city), has ventured onto the raft to obtain the secrets of glossolalia for her own use. Hiro who descends upon the raft in an attempt to rescue her is himself saved by her intervention when he is overwhelmed by the forces present. Juanita is able to return the virus to dormancy after breaking open the clay seal on the nameshub of Enki and reading it out through the PA system (defining herself prior to maintain her gains). Hiro then dives into the metaverse to prevent Rife’s info bomb from detonating in a highly trafficked area, utilizing his own counter virus to targetedly replace the machine code with an ad for his own security service.
I think that should suffice initially. You're obviously welcome to add anything important you think I may have missed.
The thing thats jumping out at me immediately here is the discrepancy in how these orders come about and are overturned, or rather where one is worth up holding vs overturning. You failed to mention the code of hamarabi which is an attempt to a return to order that Enki helps his son Marduk develop to compensate for the lost me after he uses the name shub to eviscerate them. Theres also the second explanation, besides Enki’s loneliness, its mentioned that he uses the name shub to remove the bottle neck which is keeping people from advancing. The Asherah virus is identified with the creation of civilization as well as the state of sumerian stagnation which the name shub of enki frees everyone from. Interestingly, rather than stagnation, Asherah is blamed for the down fall of King Horsea, prompting the centralization and creation of a heavily controlled book based counter virus which resists the information decay of the previous oral tradition. Asherah is also found as an outbreak after Jesus death disrupts the order of the Pharisees and is put down with the establishment of order as the Catholic church. Similarly Rife uses a variation of the virus, his attempt to overthrow 3 ring binder culture; identified as being ripe for this because of the similaritety it has with sumerian order i.e. a series of instructions which individuals simply carry out without thinking.
So in the first instance an order prescribed to Asherah is overthrown by the name shub utilizing the underlying brain structures established in initial human cultural development by the virus.
In the second instance Asherah is blamed for overthrowing the order of Horsea
The third Asherah is released when order is overthrown and then put down when it is re established.
To me, something seems like it must be off with how the first is being explained that makes it not fit with the other two. I think this because there is something relatably even stranger in the way Rife uses the modified virus to overturn something that is ripe for overthrow because it is similar. 3 ring binder culture and Sumerian culture. Where in the first instance Asherah is equated to sumerian culture, and here sumerian to three ring binder. So I am left wondering if examining what Asherah is, and how Asherah works might help resolve what we’re running up against here; and I think looking at the recursive Enki myth is going to be a key piece of that.