Saturday, August 13, 2016

Keftu (Still) Indomitable!

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. The King of Nightspore's Crown is back and better than ever. In honor of the awesome new series name, let's peruse a few passages from...the King James Bible!
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech. And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
When I was about nine, I happened to see a hardcover Bible for sale in the mall. (This was back when you could buy books in malls.) I didn't have access to a Bible at the time, and this one caught my eye for some reason. I begged my mom to buy it for me. She did so, despite an initial reluctance out of fear that I would trash it or something. (I still have it, and it's still in perfect condition, so there.) (My parents were always suckers for buying me books, but they eventually discovered that I would buy them with my own allowance if necessary, so that source dried up.)

It was the King James Version. I set to work reading it at once. And man oh man, is there some weird shit in the Bible. I use the colorful metaphor advisedly, because scriptures are chock full of earthy images and bizarre carnal encounters, though the prudery of the translation hid certain, ah, matters, from my impressionable mind. I do remember asking my mother what "begat" and "slayeth" meant.
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. There were nephilim in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
I read Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters at around the same time, and even dressed up as Japheth the son of Noah for Halloween. Yes, I was a weird kid. But ever since, I've been fascinated with the first eleven chapters of Genesis. My Ant–, er, Enoch stories reflect that. I don't know what it is about Norse / Teutonic / Medieval settings and fantasy – Tolkien is to blame, I guess – but me? I'm all about the Greek and the Semitic (cf. here and here). I'm especially interested in the ways in which the religions of the surrounding cultures bled into the Bronze Age traditions that went into what we call the Bible.
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Anyways, these days I'm not reading my Bible so much as J. B. Bury's A History of Greece (1900). I've also been working on Lord Foul's Bane, but I have to say, it's been kind of a slog. And I read Bleak House this year, people. I can't fault the author, really. Epic fantasy has just gotten kind of boring to me. Even edgy epic fantasy.

Wait, don't I write epic fantasy? I don't know. To me it's different somehow. More along the lines of The Book of the New Sun than The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, I used to eat up epic fantasy, but these days it's tough going. Maybe reading Cars and Trucks and Things That Go too many times has shortened my attention span.

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