Naked and spectacular

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To the Babylonian 'bab-il' meant 'Gate of God'.  To the Hebrews the same word meant 'confusion', perhaps 'cacophanous confusion'.  The ziggurats of Mesopotamia were 'Gates of God', painted the seven colours of the rainbow and dedicated to Anu and Enlil, divinities representing Order and Compulsion.

It was surely a marvellous intuition on the part of the ancient Jews - sandwiched between bullying empires - to have conceived the State as Behemouth or Leviathan, as a monster which threatened human life.  They were, perhaps, the first people to understand that the Tower was chaos, that order was chaos, and that language - the gift of tongues which Jahweh breathed into the mouth of Adam - has a rebellious and wayward vitality compared to which the foundations of the Pyramid are as dust.

from The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, 1987

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