Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adam, Noah and the New World

2. Some argue that the flood story begins as an "uncreation" story and ends as a re-creation story. What elements of Genesis 1-3 and Genesis 6-9 support that interpretation? What would the effect be on the primeval history of Genesis 1-11, if this interpretation is followed?

1). My essay is taken from the second prompt, and my thesis is quite straightforward: the text, in similarity of speech, story, and in the numerological indication, necessitates a de-creation and re-creation interpretation. I'll begin by taking the textual indications--similarities of word choice, location, etcetera, and then will move on to overarching thematic elements that are similar or identical, and will conclude my argument with the numerological significance that the author gives us in the age of Noah. I will then move on to one possible interpretation of the Noah and Ham facet of the narrative in light of this reading.

2). Before noting similarities in the text, we need to understand that the deluge was leveled primarily against dry land (which had been cursed in Genesis 3), man (taken from the cursed earth), birds, and land animals (which at the least, live on the cursed earth). Sea creatures would have had a grand time, taking field trips to the Carpathian peaks; light and dark, sun, moon and stars would have been unaffected, while the land would have been covered and man and land animals would have been annihilated. Therefore, if this is a de-creation, any de-creational language would mirror the creational language of dry land, man, birds and the animals, and that is how we find it. This language is infrequent, but impossible to misconstrue: Genesis 7:21, 24 give us almost a verbatim destruction of the Genesis 1 creation. "Cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth... everything that creeps upon the earth..." in Genesis 1, compared to "cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth..." in Genesis 7. This, combined with the otherwise rare phrase "in whose nostrils was the breath of life" that in Genesis 7 is a persistent refrain, force us back to the 1st chapter's account of creation.

3). Also important to note is the flood narrative's consistent reference to the earth: twenty one "earth's" (a combination of two numbers that are already significant to the Hebrew mind: three sets of seven) as well as three "face of the ground" references. There is an obvious preoccupation with the earth being cursed, and we as readers are not allowed to forget it. Creation was defaced and is being washed.

4). Perhaps less striking than the verbatim textual similarities but no less apparent is the order in which events happen: in Genesis 1, water above from water below, and water below from the dry land. In Genesis 7, the water below undoes the creation of the land, and the water above undoes the separation of the two firmaments. Creation literally is working backwards. Then we are given the primordial picture once again: the earth is formless and void, and the ark, not the Spirit of God, is "moving" upon the surface of the waters. But soon, the darkness and light are separated as the clouds break, the intermingling waters are separated (the rain stops), then the water and dry land begin to separate, Noah opens the window and there are sun, moon and stars; he sends out a raven and a dove and the birds and fish are restored, and finally, beasts and man descend from the ark: the new creation.

5). The final part of the narrative mirroring is when the ark comes to rest upon a mountain (Genesis 8:4). Looking closely at the text we can see that the Garden of Eden was also on a mountain (the rivers proceeded from it, and we're presuming that water has always flowed downhill). So, we have men, on a mountaintop, surrounded by animals and descending water. God gives them a promise, a command, and attendant blessings and curses, much of which is a strict repetition--often a verbatim repetition--of His earlier dealings with Adam. But here, for the first time, capital punishment is instituted, eating animals is allowed and eating blood is forbidden: man is given yet greater responsibility and freedom, while this time, all the surrounding animals, instead of plants, are for their use. Now all of this so far has been fairly clear and self-explanatory, the kind of thing any serious student would notice on a first reading of the text. But this next part is slightly more abstruse; it kind of goes out onto the skinny branches of exegesis, though it fits, as Dunnett would say, like an old man cutting cloth in an attic.

6). Numbers have a huge role in the Hebrew mindset. The Bible is full to the brim of genealogies, lists of tribal populations, and strict (though not chronological) accountings of the timing of events. In Genesis we're given genealogies that in some cases have an obvious significance: Enoch lives a perfect "year" of years, 365, and disappears; his son dies in the year of the flood, just failing to reach a trinity of tens (ten x ten x ten). The two "sevenths" from Adam are starkly contrasted: Lamech, the murderous poet, and Enoch, the disappearing prophet, and this is just the surface of this one genealogy. Now in this particular narrative, we're given Noah's age again and again and again, and always in the set of three: in this year, and this month, and this day of the month. But the most notable of these is the last of these sets of three, in verse thirteen of chapter eight: "And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first (month), the first (day) of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry."

7). This is the big change: the ark has come to rest, the dove has not returned, the rain has long since stopped, and here, the ark is opened. Here, the world is again presented to man. This is when man again looks out over the creation. And when does it happen? The first day of the first month of the first year after Noah's six hundredth year. God created the world in six days, and on the seventh, He rested. Noah lived six hundred years, and now he is viewing the earth again. The work is done, the world has been de-created and re-created, and now the waters, the ark, and, in a sense, Noah, are all at rest. If this is not at the least a sideways nod to the six days of creation, our author is singularly dense, and, as we are given ample proof, dense is one thing that he is not.

8). But as I said before, this could be construed as reaching. So let us follow it out. If we are being referred to creation in verse thirteen of chapter eight, what ought to happen next? God ought to give man a mandate. He does so in verse sixteen. Man ought to express dominion over the animals, and verse twenty of chapter eight satisfies that requirement. We ought to find man in a garden, and in verse twenty of chapter nine, after the extended covenant, we find this as well. There ought to be a snake in that garden, and we are given Ham. The list goes on.

9). So there are simply too many similarities for this to be anything but a new creation, but how ought this to alter our reading of the text? This is my final point, and it is one that I shall have to buttress a great deal. I am seeking to posit that we are given a second "fall in the garden story," and that, loosely and typologically speaking, Noah ought to be read as an image of God, Ham as the snake, and Shem and Japheth as man. This may at first seem counterintuitive, as we have a drunk "god" and a view of dad naked in place of a fruit (not to mention the snake-man Ham), but upon closer inspection, it fits remarkably well, as I will demonstrate.

10). The first thing to note is that Noah has labored, and is now resting, as God had done with His garden in Eden. So far, the interpretation fits. But now we come to the issue of "drunk," and this is one of the chief objections to the interpretation that I'm supporting: how can Noah represent God if Noah is drunk? The Hebrew language is not perfect, but it is quite clear on this point: the word rendered "and became drunk" at the absolute least means that Noah drank like he'd just turned twenty-one. The word is never interpreted as anything less than a lot to drink, so any wiggling within various meanings of the words is out, but why is this a problem to reading Noah as an image of God? This is long before man is given any command to avoid drunkenness, so construing Noah's actions as inherently sinful is a long, long stretch, as there is nothing in the text that criticizes him. Also, he's in his tent, not dancing naked in the streets: the text is just as clear on that point. Ham has to enter his tent to see his father's nakedness, so his father is "covered" by the "garment" of the tent. And finally, even if Noah is acting like Attila with a harem like Suleiman's, the author is the one drawing the allusion, and he deliberately avoids making a judgment of any kind, so we ought to follow his example if we would see what he wants us to see.

11). So Noah is in his tent, in relaxed attire, and Ham saw the nakedness of his father. The text here does allow for Ham's sin to be anything from raping his father to simply walking in at an inopportune time, and the only thing that sheds any light on what he does is his brothers' response, designed to undo what Ham did. And what do they do? They cover their father with a garment, while keeping their heads turned so "the nakedness of their father they did not see." The text says that Ham uncovers and sees, while Shem and Japheth cover and do not see. Without any further elucidation by the author, the reading that does the least violence to the text is to assume that Noah was naked (or nearly) in his tent, and Ham invaded his father's privacy, then told his brothers.

12). The reaction of Shem and Japheth is very interesting, however. First off, they refuse to see their father (another allusion to God, who is always shrouded in smoke or behind a veil). But they do seem to feel that immediate action needs to be taken, so they (naturally) take a garment, place it over both of their shoulders, and walk it backwards into their father's tent (drawing, perhaps, an allusion to the veil in the tabernacle with the stitched cherubim facing outward [itself drawing an allusion to Eden]), where they drape the garment over their father. As opposed to, for example, telling Ham to knock it off. Why? Why is this elaborate act of clothing their father necessary?

13). The key to this whole story is the garment. In the Jewish mindset in particular, your garment, your cloak, was your sign of office. This is why David's conscience smote him for cutting Saul's robe while Saul was going to the bathroom (lifting his hand against the Lord's anointed), why Elisha got the cloak of Elijah, why tearing your robe was such a humbling thing, and why Joseph's brothers were so furious when their brother was given a cloak of many "breadths"--a cloak stretching to the palms of the hand and soles of the feet--which we (for some inexplicable reason) translate "colors."

14). So the action of draping a cloak over their father was, in a very symbolic way, not only Shem and Japheth's refusal to shame or mock their father, not only their way of honoring him, but also their way of submitting to him, their way of investing him with the authority that he was temporarily divested of. This explains why the curse upon Ham is in terms of submission to his brothers. It is also wholly possible that Ham took his father's cloak, and this is the garment that the brothers draped back over him (though the text is silent). So, the snake takes fruit from the tree--he takes the authority of God--and he offers it to mankind, who take it. Ham uncovers his father's nakedness--he tries to remove his father's authority--and "offers" it to his brothers, who refuse it.

15). If this fails to convince that the author is drawing a parallel, it is all but proven by what follows: Adam sinned by taking to himself the office of God (judging good from evil), and his sin was followed by his son Cain's sin of building a city (God had commanded man to spread out and Cain responds by building a city). Ham attempts to rebel against the office of his father, and is thwarted, and his sin is followed by his grandson Nimrod's sin of building a city, which is also thwarted. So the story of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth is the story of a new mankind in a new garden, in which man is not rebellious and cursed, but submits, and is blessed; a new world in which man's sinfulness will be checked, and not overrun the world as it did before.

Abecedarium: Death and Beauty

A Beautiful Death

Aardvark is a Dutch word, descended from early Afrikaans, and it means "earth pig." In possession of a tongue whose glory may reach up to a cubit, this eighteen-toed hunchback is the Assyrian empire of the ant world. Consuming up to fifty-thousand lives in a single night, the three-foot long, magnificently snouted pig-like creature is a walking Holocaust, exuding extermination and trailing genocide like a garment.

Bull sharks infrequently attack humans, but it is not unknown. One boy, Jesse Arbogast, age eight, was swimming in shallow water off the coast of Langdon Beach, Florida, when he was bitten twice by a seven foot bull shark. The first bite severed his right arm between the elbow and the shoulder, the second tore off a large chunk of his upper thigh. His uncle entered the water and pulled the boy ashore, then turned and re-entered the water in pursuit of the shark. Having caught hold of it, he managed to wrestle it to shore where a park ranger shot it three times in the head. The ranger inserted his baton into the shark's mouth and a fireman managed to retrieve the arm from its gullet. The arm was wrapped in damp cloth, packed in ice, and sent off to join the eight year old boy where he was in the hospital in surgery. It was successfully reattached.
The 19 year-old boy now enjoys almost full use of his arm, a magnificent story of survival and the triumph of the human spirit and all that crap. Personally, heck with the kid, I'd like to meet the uncle.

"Caterpillar," I feel, is one of the more infrequently entered words under "cause of death." But one Canadian woman, at least, gave her all to rectify this grave injustice: she went barefoot in the Amazon, and stepped on a poisonous caterpillar. Upon feeling the pain, she assumed that she had sprained her toe, and as icing reduced the swelling, she returned home unconcerned, but felt more and more ill as the week wore on. Unfortunately for her, Amazonian caterpillars weren't exactly high on the Canadian doctor's list of possible causes for her condition, so it wasn't until ten days later that the autopsy discovered the sore between her big toe and the toe next to it.

Don't weep, don't cry, your salt-wet tears won't heal me.
I need to see your smile,
Light up my world with a laugh,
To know that you'll love me forever,
Long after my breath is gone.

A freckled little girl wrote these words to a loved one early one spring. The words were largely forgotten until the slideshow at her funeral that winter.

"Evocative" was her favorite word. Apparently poet types are allowed favorite words. I generally feel that words are like cells, and only when words form a body is there real loveliness, whether almost a surfeit of beauty, as in Victor Hugo, or Dickens, the almost tweakeresque garrulousness, paid by the word and often irrelevant to any point or story but still lovely, or, the minimalists, such as Christopher Wiman, the dying author of such lines as "antic, frantic, penny-ante Ahab stabs of madness," and "there are keener griefs than God, they come in clear daylight, leaving you with nothing and the means to feel it."
But I have since decided that my favorite word is "evanescent," both in meaning and in sound. The slow, fading, death.

"Fire On the Hills," by Robinson Jeffers.

The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front of the roaring wave of the brush-fire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned
Down the back slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for the good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue, and the hills merciless black,
The sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

God: what does this word conjure? What unspeakable, unavoidable Presence shall be unveiled when this nature, this anesthetic fog, fades away? Go not near the mountain, do not enter the tomb. Where is Moses? Who shall speak for us? Men shall seek for death but shall not find her, men shall woo death as a lover, but she shall flee from them. Men will cry to the mountains to fall on them, and hide them from His face, but at His face heaven and earth flee away, and we stand naked in the dark, broken parts, remnants of humanity, with nothing left, no illusion here to hide behind. The Truth shall set you free. So will a bullet.
Men say He is an Author. So what play? Sometimes it seems to be Hamlet. But, with Prufrock, I am not the Prince, nor was meant to be, and the other characters suck. And there is not a single daisy chain in Shakespeare while my nieces wear them like diamonds. Lilting laughter, light feet and tickle-able ribs, side-saddle shoulder rides and bedtime stories play too little a role for Shakespeare to be a realist.
So what play? I don't know. But I know stories, and I know characters: the narcissistic fool, the catty girl, the sadistic bastard, the noble hero, the lecherous frat guy, and so many more. I've played so many roles, and so few of them are characters that I like, that I could like, or that anyone could like. What play? Does it matter? Or ought the question be, regardless of the play, what character?
So if there is an Author, I thank Him for my role, full of raging death and quiet glory. If there is an Author, I am humbled to be a character. If there is an Author, I will play the small, faithful bit-part I am given, until my day to quietly slip offstage, and I'll play the kind of character that I would like to actually be. Who knows? I just may wake up and find that I am that character, the decent, quiet character: a faithful husband, loving father, a bit too obsessed with Chesterton and literature perhaps, some odd ideas about AIDS not being sexually transmitted and Edward de Vere writing the works of Shakespeare, but a wife that truly likes being barefoot, a library that smells of a grandfather's pipe tobacco, strong sons, lovely daughters, and the yard covered in flowers and grandchildren. The type of character about whom an author could sit back and say, "Well done. Go die now." For every book on this earth needs a final chapter.

Holly. My brother Dave had spent a summer in love with her while her best friend was in love with him. Holly spent the summer alternating between bemused exasperation and resignation. Dave told me I'd love her, but it turned out I already knew her: she was easily the cutest 16oz soy chai that I'd ever seen. What with her coy grin, tomboy clothes, flaming hair and dusted freckles, I'd always stared like a fool. My eyes were gluttons, and she the feast. Soon I found out that her eyes, the color of clear water over mossy rocks, were always laughing. She had two older sisters and two older brothers, her mom's kidney in her stomach, and the scars on her beautiful, tiny hands were from the cats that found her wherever she went, whether feral, starved, poisoned and smaller than a dying man's hope for a house loan, or well-fed strays with their lazy, boneless yawns, it didn't matter, they all loved her and she loved them.
But then it was ever so: those that loved her always drew blood.

Ichneumon: in medieval literature, this creature was mortal enemy to crocodiles, snakes and in particular dragons. It was famed for its habit of covering itself in mud, letting the mud dry, and repeating until it had four or five coats of mud as a form of armor. Indeed, cats were the only animal that were rumored to be able to kill it. Due to the symbolic nature of its enemies (especially snakes and dragons), the Ichneumon became a symbolic hero to the medieval church.

Jannisaries were the elite corps of the Muslim army. White Europeans kidnapped in their youth, they were raised with but one wish: to kill and die for Allah. When the Crusaders in Jerusalem looked out on those robes, flowing like blood down an altar and white as a martyr's bones; when the ululated "Allahu-akbar" turned the world silver with scimitars and the earth rolled toward them, undulating as the sea, I wonder if any would recognize a single face among the horde as his long-lost son, returned with his sins to slay him.

Knights of St. John of Malta were formerly the Knights Hospitalers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. One of four militant orders in Jerusalem, they were sworn to poverty, chastity and obedience, and were known to be vehement enemies of Islam. They were also known to fire live enemies out of their cannons. When they were driven out of Jerusalem the Knights were given Malta under the condition that they protect it. The Maltese, who, as the great medievalist Dorothy Dunnet phrases it, possessed nothing but a rock and the language Christ spoke, were not happy to see them, recalling that before the Knights arrived, they hadn't needed protection.
They needed it now. The year was 1565, and the seventy year-old Suleiman raised a nearly fifty-thousand man army and around two hundred warships to reduce the anathematized Knights and the barren Malta with them. The five-hundred Knights sent out for aid, and managed to scrape a force of 5,600 others when they included their galley slaves and servants. They then determined that if Suleiman wanted their death--which he most definitely did--they would extract in blood, drop by intractable, excruciating drop, the steepest price possible.
The Knights, in three-hundred pounds of plate armor, rolled over the landing parties like an avalanche before retiring behind their dual-walled cities. During the four month siege, when the outer walls of St. Elmo were reduced to inclines of rubble and the Janissaries were pouring in and dying like a shallow stream into hell itself, the Knights that were too badly wounded to stand had benches put in the breaches of the walls, and sat there sheathed in steel, a gun in the left hand and a sword in the right, killing as many as they could before they were themselves killed. The famous corsair and heir to Barbarossa, Dragut Rais (also known as Turgut Reis), now eighty and gentle as a wrought iron wrecking ball, was killed here during the siege of the first fort. The besieged at one point told their Grand Master that the citadel could not hold another day. The next reinforcements were all volunteers who had fought for the honor of dying with the fort. It held on--despite the fact that it was more rubble than wall--for another three weeks. There were 9 survivors who were too wounded to manage to get killed.
When, two months later, a mine destroyed a chunk of wall in the capital city of Mdina and the Turks swept the defense back and began pouring into the city, the seventy year old Grand Master cursed his men for cowards and led a charge to the breach, his sword shattering skull after skull, galvanizing the remnant of his men into action, turning back the Sword of Allah once more.
Suleiman never took Malta. He ordered his army to retreat on September 11th (a date Muslims later had even more reason to remember when the Ottomans were turned back from Vienna on September 11, 1683). Suleiman lost around 30,000 men on Malta, including over half of his Janissaries, and his empire never recovered.

Lemmings, I am sorry to report, do not actually lemming. I know. Gary Larsen's "Lemming with a water-tube" is wholly fictional. Lemmings do mass migrate, and if they have water to cross, some often drown.

Melanoma, n. A malignant tumor of melanocytes. The most deadly type of skin cancer.
Stage 0: 99.9% survival rate.
Stage I / II: 85-99% survival rate.
Stage II: 40-85% survival rate.
Stage III: 25-60% survival rate.
Stage IV: 9-15% survival rate.

Numinibus vota exaudita malignis: the latter part of "enormous prayers, which heaven in vengeance grants." --Juvenal, translated by Johnson. This quote, rather ironically, was used much later to refer to Tithonus. Eternal life was asked for and granted; eternal youth was never mentioned. Over thousands of years, Tithonus lived and aged, and when revisited and asked if he desired anything else, he uttered one nihilistic prayer: "To die."

Overdose: When I was an ambulance driver, I picked up the same woman twice in a night for an overdose. I finished restocking the ambulance after the second time, and heard the other crew get paged out to an overdose. Third time was the charm: she died en route.

Plath: “God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”

Quem di diligunt adulescens moritur: "those whom the gods love die young."

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Seductive wisps of lethal fog, reach out, caress with lies:
the heavy white belies the night, veils dying Siren sighs

and songs to the Sirens, sung by the damned, who, hopeless, still would hope
for death as sweet as mortals meet: with sleepless dreams, elope.

Now languid eternities, elaborate symphonies, a moaning, delirious moon
chaunting over, beneath our winter, of falling, fall, and swoon.

Some primal termite knocked on wood, and tasted it, and found it good.
And that is why your sweet aunt May fell through the parlor floor today.
--Ogden Nash

Underworld, in Greek and Roman mythology, was ruled by Hades and his kidnapped bride Persephone. Hades had become enamored with Persephone and stole her. Zeus brokered the deal that half of each year she would spend with his brother in the underworld, and half on earth. Hence, we have the seasons: every time Persephone goes to the underworld, the overworld dies.

Veronica Mars, the critically acclaimed TV series created by Rob Thomas, premiered on September 22, 2004. It starred Kristin Bell as Veronica Mars, a high-school girl plagued by questions regarding the death of her best friend. The mystery is resolved, however, when it turns out that not only was the best friend's boyfriend recording their sexual escapades, but the best friend was also sleeping with her boyfriend's father, who killed her to protect his reputation.

Weight: not more than 60lbs. Probably not even that. Height: 5' 1 3/4". Age: 22. December 5, 2006, the flaming redhead Holly Beth Broussard, who loved poetry, photography, historical fiction, cats and chai, died of stage IV malignant melanoma. She was survived by two sisters, two brothers, her parents, two nieces, five nephews, and her husband. She had fought off the beast for over two and a half years with next to no immune system, defying the odds again and again and again, and she finally decided to go home: an island in the mouth of the Eel River, Humboldt County, California. Her house was the only house there.
She was born on her mother's bed, married on that lawn, and she died on the couch, her family there each time. I carried her stiff corpse to the sink and held her head while her mother washed her hair. I carried her back to her mother's bed, and picked the clothes that her sisters dressed her in. I lay on the bed next to her and wondered when the merciful shock would submit to the ragged edge of reality. I still wonder. Two days after I put her on her mother's bed, I put her in a coffin, her hair still damp, her skin still marbled white, her hands still scarred. I shut the lid, and my life ended. O mother, hath one grave room for two?
The next thing I remember is an Applebee's. I was alone with thirteen pens, a mechanical pencil and a pitcher of Blue Moon, and it was the end of February. I pondered how God could forgive God. But of course, if I'm right, He didn't. If I'm right, He crucified Him. So I wondered how I could forgive God: bless you, you were blameless; I the net. For you and God forgive and I forget.
Then I stopped wondering about God, and began writing. "I know not why, why lovers, lovers die: the priests and gods, with downcast eye, fail simpler men, who, shattered, lie; while heretics? They curse, we curse the sky." "And since she truly meant so much to me, truly life, earth, sky and sea, and from whose end to mine I'd flee, then what, and who, and why must I now be?" "For your eyes shall not open, my dear, O my Luv, as you wait, entombed in the hill. And what of the eyes I beheld with my own, the hour your flesh betrayed your will? Winter has come, O Despoina, my Luv, for you are gone, Persephone. Hades has come, taken all the dancers under hill, the houses all under the sea."
Her play has been done for nearly six years; she who sweetly smiled while ragged on the rack. For she played her part well: she was the girl that was always in the corner with a book, a cat and a cup of tea, sitting with one leg curled up under her. She was the wife that hid notes for her husband to find, the wife that planned picnics on roofs, fields and a canoe, the one that seemed to have a green thumb unless you knew how many things she actually planted--maybe one in twenty survived. Swimming with dolphins (with a collapsed lung), planning her garden, deciding what to do with my hair, trying on clothes and setting records on rides at the fair, making pies and cookies with her nieces, going swimming at our river, getting our horses half-stuck in quicksand: she was the one that never noticed death's approach because she was too busy with life, with love and with laughter. A full life.

Xenophobia, oddly enough, played no part in the Rwanda genocide, in which the preferred weapon of the massacre was the machete. Initially the Tutsi were defined by anyone owning more than ten cows, and the Hutu anyone not owning more than ten cows. The distinction was socio-economic.

"Youth of the Nation," a song by the Christian rock band POD, was inspired by the school shooting at Santana High School, an imitation of the infamous Columbine massacre.

Ziggurat: A temple of Sumerian origin, built in the form of a pyramidal tower. The Aztecs claim to have sacrificed 84,400 victims in four days upon one ziggurat; historians disagree. But the Aztecs were there.

Wodehousian Fun