Friday, March 7, 2014

Get off of the pickanick table, angels. You are not salad-dressing and mustard dispensers.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from _______"
"Kate Beckinsale", Another Kiwi vouchsafed. "A number of small furry animals", tigris had written. "Religion", was my contribution. YES it was 'Cnidaria diversity and Science Madlibs Night' at the Old Entomologist again.

h Obviously my contribution was the most accurate one... but at that point, we quickly became sidetracked arguing about the less-known corollary of the sentence, i.e. that the foundational documents of long-established religions are all factual descriptions of the technology of long-vanished civilisations and alien visitors. Or even maintenance manuals.

Notably, the Book of Exodus explains how to construct a Leiden-Jar style capacitor out of gold leaf and Shittim wood -- only for a later accretion of ritual and myth to bury the purpose of these instructions. Heaven knows, a capacitor is bound to come in useful some day for melting Nazis' faces and for powering the radio link to the Mothership.
Example #2: some Vedic-era observers wrote perfectly literal accounts of steampunk aeronautical vehicles dogfighting over the Indus Valley.
In the words of one authority, "They look like brutalist wedding cakes, with minarets, huge ornithopter wings and dinky propellers"...

... while another leading authority compared them to "interdimensional spacecraft powered by underpants gnomes on bicycles". Admittedly he had just consumed two pints of Old Blandings Shoat Tonic and Scythe Sharpener [with Nightshade for Vitamins]. Anyway, it only took a few generations to dress up these journalistic reports with deities and the aroma of sandalwood and ghee, turning them into the Rig-Veda and the Ramayana.
Bonus Technology Diety *
But sometimes the missing piece of the jigsaw - the key part of the historical narrative, lost or repressed or repurposed in the service of religion -- is not so obvious. In such cases we turn to the Riddled Ktistec Machine, which is custom-built to winnow through huge corpora of data and find the needle-shaped space in the middle of the haystack.

Which brings us to the business of the Lost Blue Dye. The Talmud reports how JEHOVAH requires his people to decorate their ceremonial robes with tassels, much in the manner of C&W singers and leather jackets, but tinted blue with the dye of the chilazon... this being a marine creature of some kind, protected by a shell. But then came some diaspora or another, the tradition of tekhelet-dyeing was broken, and the identity of the chilazon was forgotten.

Curious as to the original technological intention, we fed all the available information into the Ktistec machine's input stream. Information such as Carole Biggam's work on the North Sea dog-whelk dye industry, and the appearance of the chilazon in the legendary Black Edition Monster Manual [most copies of that edition were destroyed prior to distribution when a trans-dimensional reality breach allowed an incursion of tentacled polyostomous monsters into the publisher's warehouse].
Jousting with the much-feared chilazon
After long deliberation the answer emerged. It turns out that the chilazon was the humble murex shell Murex truculus, and 'tekhelet' was the indigo produced when murex-sourced dibromo-indigotin is transformed by sunlight. There are those who claim to have already determined this, but THEY DID NOT USE SCIENCE so it does not count. We note in passing that in one rabbinical opinion, the identity of the chilazon is immaterial because once the continuity of tekhelet was broken it cannot be a mitzvah again. And another opinion that if everyone went back to wearing tekhelet tassels IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY then overhead, without any fuss, the stars would be going out.
And wouldn't you know it, it turns out that indigo and its derivatives are organic semiconductors. So the entire Talmudic exegesis is based on a garbled instruction from our alien or Atlantean mentors on weaving semiconductor circuitry into our ceremonial garb! A veritable colour out of space!
Quite why those mentors wanted the indigo to come from a muricid whelk, rather than vegetable sources such as woad or Indigofera tinctoria, remains a mystery. Next on the 'to-do' list for the Riddled Research Laboratory is to reconstruct the Lost Chord, and the Lost Wax Method of metalwork (secret of Atlantean sculptural excellence).** For Bill Gates is offering a substantial cash prize for whomsoever can reconstruct that method, or so we are apprised via an e-mail which helpfully provides links through which the prize can be claimed.

"God is inordinately fond of _______"
"Kate Beckinsale", Another Kiwi vouchsafed. "A number of small furry animals", tigris had written. "Religion", was my contribution.
* It has been noted elsewhere that "all wolf-themed fantasy editions through the 1970s and 1980s should have the cover lettered in Serif Gothic Bold". The "Gunpowder God" cover art is in accordance with this prophecy tradition, due to the wolf-headed deity in the background.

** It may seem odd to lose an entire Wax Method, but amnesia is part of being human. It is what distinguishes us from something else that I can't remember.


Sirius Lunacy said...

God is inordinately fond of a number of small furry Kate Beckinsales practicing religion.

tigris said...

The back side of my slip of paper did mention "... grooving with a Pict" as a necessary condition.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


Feckin' snails will get us all. In the end.

mikey said...

Ahh. The Nine Billion Names of Shellfish.

Can you eat the ornithopter ones?

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

God is inordinately fond of a number of small furry Kate Beckinsales practicing religion.

My bunk, I shall be in it...

I love the whole "knight vs snail" branch of medieval art.