The infamous story of Babel is a paradox. Even the very onset of such a story must be re-examined precisely because if it can be believed, then the very transmission of the story has already been “babeled”, in coherent, in complete: untranslatable. Or perhaps it is not the translation that is the problem but the reception of the babel that must be considered (before data there is only noise). Perhaps all that there is to be said has been said, and yet the truth might just not be enough for us; lacking the substance to fill the very hollow imbalance which the babel has resonated within us, echoed through our very own inconceivability. This tangent may explain the very truth to understanding the inconceivable within the babel. What is there, might always had been there to begin with:
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Define our own disillusion:
[a. Heb. bābel, Babylon; associated in Genesis with the idea of ‘confusion,’ but not referable to any known Semitic root; according to Prof. Sayce, for Assyrian bāb-ilu gate of God, or bāb-ili gate of the gods, the Assyrian rendering of the Accadian Ca-dimíra (see Trans. Soc. Bibl. Archæology I. 298, 309).]
1.1 The city and tower, of which the attempted construction is described in Genesis xi, where the confusion of languages is said to have taken place; hence a.1.a a lofty structure; b.1.b a visionary scheme.
1382 Wyclif Gen. xi. 9 Therfor was callid the name of it Babel, for there was confoundid the lippe of all the erthe. 1667 Milton P.L. iii. 468 And still with vain designe New Babels, had they wherewithall, would build. 1703 Maundrell Journ. Jerus. (1721) 16 What remains of this mighty Babel‥is no more than twenty Foot high. 1711 Steele Spect. No. 167 ⁋3 The fond Builder of Babels. 1847 Tennyson Princ. iv. 59 Let be Their cancell’d Babels.
2.2 A scene of confusion; a confused assemblage.
1625 Fletcher Nt. Walker (T.) All the chambers Are a mere babel, or another bedlam. 1703 Maundrell Journ. Jerus. (1721) 48 A mere Babel of broken Walls. 1731 Swift Repeal Test Act (T.) The whole babel of sectaries joined against the church. 1860 G. Morris Poems 173 We are only two, dear brother, in this babel wide!
3.3 A confused turbulent medley of sounds.
a 1529 Skelton El. Rummyng 387 A clatterynge and a babell Of folys fylly. 1863 Kingsley Water Bab. i. 32 Such a noise, row, hubbub, babel, shindy, hullabaloo. 1884 Manch. Exam. 16 Sept. 4/7 This confused and confusing babel of‥idle objurgations.
4.4 Comb., mostly attrib., in which babel approaches the character of an adj. (= ‘confused, turbulent,’ or ‘lofty, huge’), as in babel-confusion, Babel-sea, Babel-sound, Babel-tower; also babel-builder; babel-scheme, a visionary project.
c 1746 Hervey Medit. (1818) 39 God from on high laughs at the *Babel-builder.
1653 Baxter Chr. Concord 101 Sion is not built by the *Babel-confusions.
1729 Savage Wanderer II. v. (D.) The traitors rear their *babel-schemes.
1853 Kingsley Hypatia v. (1879) 67 The *Babel sea which weltered up and down every street.
1816 Southey Poet’s Pilgr. i. Wks. X. 20 All disregardant of the *Babel sound.
1848 Dickens Dombey (1870) I. vi. 99 *Babel towers of chimneys.
Seek for misunderstandings:
The phrase “Tower of Babel” does not appear in the Bible; it is always, “the city and its tower” (אֶת-הָעִיר וְאֶת-הַמִּגְדָּל) or just “the city” (הָעִיר). “Babel” means the “Gate of God”, from Akkadian bab-ilu,
“Gate of God” (from bab “gate” + ilu “god”).” According to the Bible, the city received the name “Babel” from the Hebrew word balal, meaning to jumble. (from the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Babel)
Disseminate our own lies:
When one refers to Babel as a structure, the concept of the tower must be reconsidered. There was no mentioning of such a “structure” per-say, but in this insistence, the concept of the structure should not be forfeit. This structure is exactly what it means; the solid conception is its very misinterpretation (babeled) for everything is, if represented: representing—signifying. To be structure means without signified (already one step removed), the very edifice of what on appearance is whole. What is represented is, for the lack of a means of representation, the fabric of a conceivable social structure, the binding element between irreducible differences that could not coexist within undivided proximity. The story of babel represents a society of people whom coexisted in peace through a presupposed singular language, the concept of true understanding, speaking beyond tongues, the language of god (New York Trilogy) itself. The story presupposed that this was the only condition in which such a unity could have possibly existed, but again, this is the babel. This language represents humans only understanding of language, the very inconsistencies was already built into this structure, this system; to have to use language is already a deficiency to understanding. Yet much like Zizek’s example, of the known vs. unknown, this was an unknown-known, we don’t know that we had always known we never knew. It is precisely this conception that allowed society to exist, the imbalance is what allowed this very system to function; only when something cannot stand on its own can structure exist. What was spoken by this society was merely their own inconsistencies, and yet precisely because the inconsistencies was built in, the coordinates can be aligned and understanding, or preconceived understanding—disregarding that there is anything to misunderstand or misunderstanding is part of the understanding, could take place. In other words, what language the people spoke is of little significance, perhaps it is more descriptive and more advanced, but within that language which they spoke it still had all the problems of any other that exists today. What held that society together was not their singular language but merely the ability to allow for miscommunication to happen, as a natural harmless consequence of language, without disrupting the act of connecting with Others. That is to say, the singular language was a presupposed understanding of one another, they never actually had true understanding, but precisely because this misconception was built in it actually provided them a space within language in which antagonisms can passively act out allowing for coexistence to be possible outside of language. For example people can become best friends not because they can communicate everything they wanted to say but because the other can fill in the very gaps left behind in order to achieve an understanding, it is precisely this reason that limits can be confronted especially with the things that can’t be said (Lacan’s when all truths are revealed there is no truth left). As the story goes, within such a society the only possible outcome was prosperity, under the assumption that their prosperity was caused by their true understanding of one another. Within such a society, there would be no name, no identification; no significance so to speak, nothing needs to be signified. Their reach for god is their search for true signification, the transcendental signified so to speak, to give a name for the very purpose of their seemly impossible existence; to find their god, to find their reason for their existence, to touch the face of god. From their search what they found was not god, but they got exactly what they asked for: the truth in which they interpreted as the gods. Hence in the babel: in the god’s eminence, it was not confusion which the gods’ wanted for the people but it is communication with those whom the gods deemed was ready. What happened was not that they confounded peoples’ language (this concept was lost in the babel), but what really happened was for once in human existence we truly heard the voice of god; the gate of god can be interpreted as from the mouth of god, the source of understanding. Babel in this conception is the truth from god’s own mouth, and like witnessing existence at its very perfection, Ding an sich beyond conception (2001 Space Odessey, as Dave confronts the Monolith); how then can man not go mad? God spoke and at this humanity crumbled; what fell apart was not a tower but the social structure of man. The difference is irreducible and at that moment completely apparent. When these people tried to speak again, for once they can hear their own voices echo back at them, all the imperfections of their means of representation. What the gods gave them at that moment is what they have been searching for: true understanding of one another, the complete reveal of the differences within each and every person that makes their existence meaningful, they found Dasein so to speak. When these people spoke again, even within the same language, they saw themselves against the very Others of whom they once understood. Each and every one of them began to understand each other’s difference, or misunderstand each other precisely because they for once can see the difference. No longer is their language and their words enough, the difference begins to show itself within the language, their words begin to change, the people can no longer understand each other because the truth of the other person is now completely and plainly articulated by the very way they speak. These differences that were there in the beginning in each and every individual, once completely articulated in the open, expressed fully in the very difference of their language, destroyed the very means of coexistence (if everyone knew everything that others were thinking about them, is it possible then that anyone get along anymore?). That marks the fall of society, the fall of the tower of Babel. Hence they build again, but now not at a unity, but as a separate constellation throughout the face of the earth (rise and fall of civilisations and their ruins, the only means of separation left, of every epoch known in our history). The very birth of the physical manifestation of the structure, the separation in which the original language provided that the babel saw an end to, is fully articulated and replaced by the physical demarcation of space. These people gave themselves a name and at that very moment gave birth to the very means of the creation of the self and at the same time the creation of the Other. Here I am; this is where I belong because you are there that I am me.
At this point, I must back track. This god within the story fully articulates this interpretation of the Babel. This is precisely why within the holy bible or in other words a religion based on a monotheistic conception, the god would use a plural term to refer to the self which in essence supposedly singular:
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
God is dead as Lacan puts it, even the transcendental singular is a plural, even god in referring to itself, it cannot refer to itself as me, but merely as “us”. The difference is transcendental; there is no singular truth but the negativity within the difference which makes any truth possible. What the story of Babel is basically trying to articulate is Zizek’s concept of “love thy neighbor; no thanks!” of over approximation. When all the separation between individual entities are gone, there is no means of coexistence, over approximation is far too violent of an intrusion into the Other. The very differences in language are the very truths to the presence of the other. That is to say in this instance, the means that causes separation within society is precise what holds society together; it is only through not understanding one another that we can understand the differences between one another.
The night was silent as I sat there looking into the warm glow of the fire place until a bizarre woman appeared from the darkness of a moonless night. She spoke in a weird tongue with an unknown accent, one which would even imply some sort of an impediment, but somehow I could vaguely understand her and we talked. At least, from what I can remember we spoke for hours, but somehow when I try to recall what we spoke of that night there is nowhere within my consciousness can I recompose the words this strange woman spoke. Within my memory, there was only one voice the entire time, the voice of my own…
This woman was eager to speak to me even though I can see from the weariness in her eyes the blood shot veins of many sleepless nights. She told me of many things, a history of the place where she was from; tales of great triumph and of cataclysmic failure of a faraway land. The place where she was from was merely called here for them there was no need for a name for what was evident of something that exists for which no ownership was possible. In fact, this stranger had no name, she merely referred to herself as I and from where she was from there was no need for such identifications. It is as if the each thing and each person exist self-evidently and independently, without the hindrance of the ambiguity of differentiation, without the need of significance. Though from what I can understand from such a confusing place, the only identification of the coordinates of space and things and of time was based on a social structure between people of which they called babel…