Babel and the idea of a tower

It’1280px-pieter_bruegel_the_elder_-_the_tower_of_babel_vienna_-_google_art_project_-_editeds called the ‘Tower’ of Babel for a reason. The idea is that the tower is great because it contains all of humanity but that means there will always be people who are further up the tower and always others just joining. This doesn’t create a community in any normal understanding of the word. It just creates a linear hierarchy. Were it the arborescent tree of Babel, you would have different branches and many people on the same level, each bearing specialised knowledge.

But the path around the tower goes up only, and everyone is in order. Any knowledge gleaned at the top can only be passed back one by one, and we all know what happens when a message gets passed back one by one: it often changes and what means more to the Tower than its image. The detail is much more complex and much more worrying than one might at first think, especially when those considering joining are receiving mixed messages.

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