King James I of England did a great disservice to the world in his attempt to bring enlightenment to huddled masses. We can’t fault him as he was the product of a broken home. His mother was a ruthless opportunist who in her insanity turned to Catholicism to give her life meaning and his father (genetic science was still witchcraft, so only a vague assertion) Lord Darnley was murdered either by his mother, her lover and second husband or any other interested party. Think of it as Jerry Springer on crack, English 16th century style, phase one in which Doris gets her oats.
A century before all this, a wondrous new piece of technology was unleashed on the world that sparked a dramatic surge in mass media and the ensuing international battles over copyright laws concerning Guttenberg’s first publication made a bloody mess of the status quo. New reality shows were popping up all over Europe and you could go to any major city and be delighted by the royal shenanigans. Often viewers were selected at random to participate with a wealth of door prizes and instant celebrity. The fun couldn’t last forever as the competition for the limelight started to heat up as nations sought primacy in their monopolistic world order. James was a product of this new fast moving cultural revolution, half progressive like his grandfather but with strong reactionary impulses of his mother. He sought civil discourse and rational debate in politics hoping to change people’s minds while empowering them to participation using the still fresh technology. He was a strong advocate of committees and convened the Hampton Court Conference to get his messaging perfect as he was intimately familiar with the dominant polling corporation’s opinion surveys by Gallup known by their old English family name the infamous Gallows’ Polls.
The result of the industrious committee members was an epic success that is the gold standard of legislation even today. It replaced the far too simplistic Magna Carta that empowered the nation’s people but failed to properly format common law much the same way our own Constitution is a fading document, written on sheep’s skin that isn’t properly enforced to assert justice for all.
One of the most poignant stories in this fabulous work of fiction is a retelling of an old Herew fable called The Tower of Babel. Though, this too is somewhat deceptive as the Jews never really used that title, their word was balal. It wasn’t so much a city name but a slur and pun against the Sumerian people and a tale to devalue the culture of the people they themselves had successfully revolted against. More specifically Ancient Mesopotamians and the city state of Akkadian, the remnants of which are still present in Al Hillah just a day trip south of Baghdad. The people of KÁ.DINGIR.RA had partially constructed an engineering wonder of the world but failed to finish, Etemenanki, Sumerian for temple of the foundation of heaven and earth.1
This context is important to understand when reading Genesis 11:1-9 of King James’ version of the story. James was constructing a blueprint for his descendants to follow that would be the final word on all the hot topics of the day; history, religion, law, morals, race, business, economics and politics. It would combat the new media barrage that sought to destabilize his administration and limit his authority. The book also carried a history of propaganda wars that its original writers were waging on similar issues by previous generations.
I will paraphrase, ‘god don’t want no stinking babelfish2 getting the people all uppity.’ Today we see our own techno revolution in the media and information. I didn’t need to go rummaging through my old history books and dictionaries to find the correct names, spelling and dates I just farted around the internet, googling my way around citation and ancient memories. Twitter and Facebook have been credited as a boon to the people’s voice and the new and improved revolution and I say they’re fine, the polaroid of the blogging world if you like that sort of thing. I am old enough to think simple snapshots are kid of sleazy like a fat man with a mustache taking pictures in his basement but I learned valuable lessons from King James I, The Magna Carta and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Keep the law simple and easy to understand, irony and metaphor are often lost without a pair of eyes and lips and we don’t need no stinking committee doing all our thinking for us.
P.S. Have you been to Google translate? You can talk to yourself for hours and in a different language so it’s not as pathetic.
2 Adams, Douglas. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy , Titan Books. 1978