tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Oct 12, 2006 3:16am

aliens from space

About five years ago, I first came across this article on Ishku'rs About Page (yes, that Ishkur):

The gods, say the Sumerians, came to Earth by way of the 12th planet Nibiru, whose highly elliptical orbit brings it within the inner solar system only once every 3600 years. Whether this means that the gods came to Earth from Nibiru or that they came via Nibiru is still hotly debated, but the fact persists that the gods, also known as the Elohim or "Lofty Ones", the AN.UNNA.KI, the Nefilim or "Those Who from Heaven to Earth Came" were, in the Sumerians' eyes, a technologically advanced race of beings.

It's a riveting story about the early (and modern) religions of man that ties up millenia of atomized history into a coherent, attractive picture. It's not important whether it's believable, because it's a good yarn. I read it and felt a similar desire to live in that world as I felt after reading C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. It's the kind of story whose emotional logic and psychological interest weighs more than accuracy or truthiness.

Adam tipped me off to the fact that Ishkur gets much of his material from Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods. So I bought the book and read it, and although it contains pretty much the same information, it's just an awful, awful piece of writing for a variety of interesting reasons. First, Daniken has written and advocacy piece, and it matters to him that his readers actually believe that aboriginal rock paintings depict beings in space helmets or that the ancient Egyptians were too dense to stack rocks into pyramids. He uses words like "undoubtedly" to support his unfalsifiable arguments ("...drawings undoubtedly meant as signals for a being floating in the air ... Undoubtedly the Ark was electrically charged!..."), which instantly puts me on the defensive. Second, he selects evidence carefully, showing only rock paintings or statues that bear a superficial resemblance to the NASA spacesuits in use when the book was written. Third, he seems insensitive to long timescales, attention spans, and reserves of manpower. It may be overwhelming to imagine building a pyramid here and now, but Pharoah had a few resources at his disposal that Daniken lacks.

His greatest sin is overlooking the value of telling a fun story, the reason I got a kick out of Ishkur's piece and picked up Chariots in the first place:

So great was ISH.KUR's anger that during this period the Egyptians called him Prince Resheph, god of pestilence. He openly came and ravaged the people of Egypt with a kind of biological warfare so devastating that his wish was granted, and his people set free, just to get him to stop. But when he led them out of Egypt he learned that during their captivity they had been assimilated into Egyptian culture, worshipping Egyptian gods (EN.KI's family). This was a common tendency of ancient cultures-to readily adopt and owe allegiance to whatever deity was most powerful, led by the strongest army. ISH.KUR, who never had a permanent city and people to call his own, was extremely upset to find his people worshipping other gods. He had to find a way to make his people worship him and only him, by eliminating all other divine influences. It was there, in the Sinai desert, over a forty year span (so as to lead a new generation of followers, untainted by the years of polytheistic captivity) that he sowed the seeds of a monotheistic form of worship.

So skip the book, and check out the article. Also, it looks like Ishkur is also working on a new edition of the Guide to Electronic Music.

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