We shall now read Anathem...

Saturday, 30 December, Year 9 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

... if that wasn't obvious.

This will not be a rewrite, in the style invented on Trilema and celebrated throughout [what's left of] contemporary human culture ; nor will it be an adnotation, in the idem. Instead, we'll just publish lecture notes, and you're more than welcome to read them aside the original text or otherwise as you please. Quite poetic, eh ?

  • I have a rather strong suspicion (perhaps unshared by alf) that Hylaea is actually a reference to the 1910s group of Russian futurists. Has anyone investigated the matter, such as for instance by inquiring with the author ? He must've given some interviews, there is such a thing as a literary criticism apparatus, from press to prizes, supporting the whole SF and more generally pulp market substitute for literature as produced in the Retarded States, I expect. Isn't there ?

  • Perhaps in context it's worth mentioning that the title's a transparent portmanteau of anathema, a Latin calc of the Greek word for arrangement, dedication used to denote one cast outi and anthem, a modern rendition of ye olde englishe antifne, evidently from late Latin antiphonaii. At some point they started putting th into words for reason of fashion, what can I tell you.

    Now, what this joining is supposed to denote, what it aims to convey is entirely unclear to me ; but I suspect it's very much in the vein of gayngel futurism : "it sounded good, man, why does it need to mean something". Why indeed.

  • "Arbre" is rather clearly "tree". Moreover, no such thing as "settled on common system of units" happened, on either this Arbre or any other. Meanwhile feet, miles & the rest of the retardedness are very fucking far from any kind of commonality -- in fact they're about as common as the mating habits of sisterfucking rednecks. Common-in-Duluth, maybe.

  • O look, the anathem portmanteau is actually confirmed by word-of-god. Neat.

  • Bazian empire, really ? In point of fact, contrary to the author's professed hope, a whole lot of this "very sparse chronology" makes plenty of sense to one who's not read any pages of this particular book. It is cheap metrage, very reminiscent of say Dune.

  • Don't you find it somewhat bizarre that the "third sack" takes from 2787 to 2856 ie 69 units but the "convox" thereupon follows a unit away ? This is what I mean by cheapness, for the record -- if you take extant history and zoom out, the result is smooth ; but if you take an item that was writen ad hoc and directly as the supposed zoomed out version of some history, it will look like the fucking zeta functioniii. Consider in the same vein that it is not possible for an orrery, no matter how constructed, to be "exactly correct for thirty four centuries" in the first place ; but if it were so possible, it wouldn't suddenly "go out of whack", and it takes a very... special sort of mind to think otherwise.iv

  • Nice that there's a pompous entry explaining "extramuros" in the lede yet I have to explain amanuensis in my own time. It's a pompous name for a personal assistant to someone who can't afford to pay her for her services. You're welcome.

  • Quills that dry up among stainless steel ? Why not make a fucking fountain pen, the world's most discovered item ever!

  • Why "almost thirty years ago" ? I thought the whole point was this being discretized, it's exactly thirty or else exactly ten or whatever. Besides, what happens when centurian gates open, there's an old gibbering madman in rags and they repopulate it with self-loathing children ?

  • When I see nonsense on the level of "Fraa Orolo was as bored by that as the artisan was by talk of the Hundreders" all I can possibly think of is "take your cheap-ass symmetry and shove it up your own ass with the help of some woman that's just as bored by her own emotions as you are by your own thoughts". God damn it!

  • Why did I know the moment I first read the string "Warden Regulant" that this bullshit's gonna be a she ? Why, and how, and what does it say about how untenably boring anglotards are ? JUST GO FUCK THEM ALREADY! There's no need and no place for all this anxious "tension", seriously now. Just go fucking fuck them already.

  • Why does he wonder how long ink takes to dry ? It's a "math" isn't it ? I expect my "fids" to be able to calculate this cunt-up, what's wrong with him ? Or wait, Stephenson doesn't understand how the sense of smell works in nature and consequently neither can the monks ?

  • Anyone who's ever been inside a 1k+ year old library will be able to tell you the floor does not get smooth, but grainy. This is exactly the sort of ignorant nonsense that annoys me, for the record. Even fucking marble grains out eventually!

  • Wait, wait, wait, they actually take eight year old girls into these things ? And I've been reading so far before any fucking ? This is verging on idiotic already, how's the nonsense supposed to even work ?! Some dood "you should always keep in the corner of your eye" because "you never know when he might commence wrestling" but nevertheless the girls didn't start their yearly production at the age of eleven ?!

  • Oh, we barely know what flanking is but large fields of cellular automata, I see, I see. For the record, no hundred ants ever moved a raisin, and moreover ants are terrible at sharing effort towards a single load, which is why they mostly solo-carry things they've themselves (ineptly) cut. Like, mostly, leaves.

  • For my curiosity, what is the meaning of "Edition", 4th or otherwise, in a system in which books are copied by hand ?

  • All this "different faces but internal soul working same way" metaphora is starting to get on my nerves.

  • If these people can "pace" a full circuit of the whole thing in minutes, that'd imply it's at the most a hectare or so, perhaps even less than that. I somehow had the idea the whole affair's larger than a city block. Moreover, shouldn't the horizon be blocked in some portion of the "all directions" by the mountaineous terrain ?

  • It occurs to me that if monks get trapped into flows of other monks going a different way this entire thing is a terrible design. Actual monasteries very insistently and with a lot of deliberate forethought avoided this problem.

  • If these dorks know what the "centenarians" are doing in their compound and also can set it on fire, the "separation" is an utter fucking farce. What if this boy as a fifteen year old saw and fell in love with some similarily aged "centenarian" hussy ?

  • Holy shit they have complicated waterflows but no better firefighting than ye olde bucket line ? What the everloving!

  • The proposition that the rite would be indistinguishable from the same thing performed milennia ago clashes with the proposal that different groups of the secluded use language differently.

  • Weren't the gates "waterpowered" ? Why does some "4 bn year old meteorite" need to "supply the power" for it and moreover how is such a thing proposed to have survived corrosion, and come to think of it... isn't that a bit early, 4bn years ?

  • Why the fuck is the "ita" involved with material engineering and mechanical maintenance, I thought they were "information technology" something-or-the-other propellerheads.

  • "you might think my self-centeredness is in poor taste and actually immoral -- but it is part of the story!!!". Dumbest generation of narcissists in the history of the world, it's what it is.

    No, fucker, you are not part of any stories, nor will ever be. Move out of the way, modernity was but a dream, with its spurious "individuality" and whatnot "humanist" nonsense. It is gone now, and it will go unmourned for I could never fucking stand it and you can't ever talk of anything besides yourself.

    Let me guess, would aunt Polly be all sad if Tom drowned ? The imaginary faux suicide, the narcissist's rice-and-beans diet for supporting the monkey on his back.

  • "I understood one symbol in twenty" is a ridiculous way to misstate the situation -- symbols can not be understood in isolation. But I can buy he recognized one symbol in twenty and the author misspoke.

  • O look, strong language from they interred in a monastic order. Because they're catering to the trucker convent, amirite ?

  • "celebrities at an awards ceremony", eh ? This is quite what is meant by

    What, some square jawed, chewing gum chewing cowboys and shop clerks can't be Roman citizens ? Sure they can, they got ears to lend as good as anyone, for 5½ a year. Just drape them in some bedsheets or something.

    and by

    Again : being an UStard is the worst thing you could possibly be. It's not so much that you go around in a land filled with beer that's really alt-flavoured fanta and cheese that shares a precursor with shoe soles and door filling. It's that you go around where some idiots put bedsheets on their head and think themselves Marcus Cesar or whatever his name was, and go about applying "the Socratic method" of picking their nose. The cheese you could survive, the bedsheets never.

    and by

    a bunch of farmhands wrapped in bedsheets "should be enough Roman Republic for anyone"

    and by

    Some square jawed highschoolers somewhere in Iowa donning a bunch of bedsheets and imagining that thereby they're now epoch-accurate Anthonys and Cleopatras while chewing gum and tipping hats

    and so on. No, the "unlimited ingenuity" isn't impressing anyone in lit hum, because "better" agricultural treatises that aren't actually better aren't worth either penning or reading.

  • If the river can be easily bridged "and so a settlement tended to be there" all quaintly like that, what the fuck is with the "office workers in skyscrapers" ? By the time a settlement has the power to enact skyscrapers, it long has the power to enact the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge. What is the point and utility of "bastions" one could take a piss on from his corner VP office ; and before you discard this problem in the plain terms it is stated, stop and think for a second about what it all means and what is implied. Who looks down on who and why and what's that say about their relative durability ? There's "gun emplacements" notwithstanding that you can't have skyscrapers without rocketry, not on this Earth at any rate, and you can't have useful gun emplacements with a known, fixed position -- also not on this Earth. But I guess tiny refuelling stations up in the terminus of a mountain range, because it's just fun to haul gasoline or whatever they call Latin in that "different" world up the hill from the prairie for no reason whatsoever. What's economic rationalityv ?!

  • Polished granite ball valves ? Leaving aside why people using "water power" ie hydraulics (notwithstanding their skyscrapers) would not use the relatively recent item (and by the way, the history of Roman acueductos y alcantarillados is well preserved and well documented -- why not give it an eye ?) but rather the plug valve design, (and probably in an inline configuration), guess why granite is the wrong material for this application ? What'd have been wrong with saying obsidian in preference of fucking granite, that at least'd have had a chance to work in practice and lo! I'd have been ever so impressed at how these people managed to excavate usable obsidian of "monumental" size rather than being annoyed at the author's apparent unawareness of how intrusive igneous rock fails under water pressure. The fucking word comes from granum, grain, motherfucking hell! Next time make the monumental valves of 34 centuries out of Grana Padano, jesus f christo-crackers!

  • O look, stainless steel makes an appearance. Here's the secret of this technological wonder : inox is plain steel (iron-carbon mixture) with 10.5% chromium content by mass. That's all it is (sometimes a little molybdenum is also added to improve acid resistance). The problem with chromium is exactly the one discussed with iron : you either got chromite or you don't. As things stand on this Earth, mostly South Africa and Kazakhstan got it, and anyone else -- not. We will have to suppose that this inherent inequality is for some reason a resolved problem in this "very creatively created" alt-world of Arbre, and we will have to believe the author didn't see fit to look into just fucking how it was solved for reasons other than he didn't have a fucking clue.

    Be all that as it may, inox beats granite and anything else out of the water when it comes to valves, and so therefore nevermind the obsidian above, I thought what he was saying is that they just didn't have useful metals (leaving the skyscrapers kinda stranded). We will pass in silence over how chromium extraction is expensive and difficult (making it only exist as a metal in any quantity starting in the 1900s -- the ancients usedvi bronze in lieu of the absent inox) and involves necessarily Cr VI which is toxic and carcinogenic, and just move on.

  • Let it be said in passing that men of science discussing the configuration of mechanisms in their familiar professional surroundings in terms of the thickness of their own thigh seems rather african altogether.

  • For the record, the pretense to equality and pointed rejection of natural hierarchy is starting to get on my nerves. Really bitch, "pitchforks or molotov cocktails" ? Puhleaze.

  • Don't you find it funny that while "rather than use the Orth word, which would be devoid of meaning and connotations to Earth readers, I have tried to devise an Earth word that serves as its rough equivalent while preserving some flavor of the Orth term" permits the local "molotov" for the relatively obscure tachanka-fuel-bomb, nevertheless it does not permit "camera" for whatever the fuck "speelycaptors" and "jeejahs" are.

  • I have no fucking idea whence this strange notion of how linguistic memory works comes from ; but let me point out that I once spoke no Romanian whatsoever for a whole decade and as a result forgot no words whatsoever. I do not expect it is even possible to forget stuff in the vein of "barbecue, cooler, cheesburg". I still recall words I never used my entire life for any purpose, apotropaion I have known for twenty years before using once months ago and, except for the fortunate circumstance of this paragraph would have possibily never used again. Who forgets words ?!

  • Here's a word about high heels : women stole the item from fucking Greek warriors! Yes, that's right, high heels are historically as manly as the gladius ; and for that matter this may well be the only example known to literature in which women taking over something manly didn't utterly ruin it for all time. Bear this in mind when you feel inclined to make cheap faggoty statements on the topic in a transparently ridiculous attempt to appear appealing to the lost girlies.

  • "Several burly fraas", seriously ? Might've as well invented yet another flavour of americana "martial arts" for this alt-world, at the very least, neh ?

  • Really, the implication that "a sline is a sline because of inherent personal shortcomings" is anything but universally held ? Hurr.

  • Why exactly is there no risk of pregnancy when the male is a fraa ? I tell you I don't see it, monasteries were important baby producers throughout the actual history of the item.

  • Doesn't it strike you that these kids have way too many annoying quirks of personality considering their situation ? From experience if you lock up a group of teens together they become uniform not "individualized" in the superficial manner described.

  • Aaaand it's becoming quite pointedly evident a fifth of the way through the 2nd chapter that all pretense aside, the ~only point of these "suur" items is sexual service. Why even bother with the whole charade then ? "Tivian liaisons" my foot.

  • Aaand we're back to the identity fears of the worthless ESLian narcissist and so on. Oh boy, a window all to the self, something interesting happened, yadda yadda. How can anyone even put up with these idiots ? These aren't human problems, these are the problems of kitchenware.

  • Subjunctive, really. Careers depending on the sexual service item appearing at the headcount, because I'm totally going to fire some middle manager for his failure to show up with a trophy in tow at the yearly trophy counting meet. What the fuck already.

  • I'd have expected that "tenner" apert is ten days long, while unary or w/e apert is one day long and consequently soon they'll have a 100 day long apert. But now we find that in fact it's only ten days because pot takes two weeks to work or somesuch ? Unexpected, so to speak.

  • X-rays don't bounce ; and who the fuck inspects a plasma cut piece visually ?!

  • Plato is to be Protas now, and Thelenes a watered down Socrates ? I am disappoint.

Anyway, I just deleted 219 empty lines which could have taken further comments, if I were inclined to make them. I am not ; about a third through the second chapter this thing thoroughly disabused me of any interest. Perhaps I will return one day, but honestly, it seems unlikely.


  1. Romanian inherited the behaviour from someone. []
  2. If you're curious, this is how the post-failure Latins references the call-and-response oral vomit of the lesser races, meanwhile pestilently common in their own empire of braindamage, the "christian church". Turns out that "no woman or african left behind" means you're stuck with a world of shit without let or respite in 300 as well as in 1600, who could have guessed.

    In no case it's a matter of "inspires listeners to sing along", but strictly a matter of "no child left behind" in the demeaning (to actual people) sense of "here is a spot so the lesser may exist, too". It's the early root of what will eventually become the poison of hallucinated individuality in they incapable of supporting such expensive crenellage on the meager substrate of their being ; and should be rooted out as such. []

  3. Consider how spectral Riemann zeta looks, or for that matter the FT of von Mangoldt function. []
  4. The fundamental problem is that the overfed peon of modernity has become so inured, extreme exaggeration is required to attempt to stir it, which is technically speaking not this author's fault (but that he caters to the idiots -- is). []
  5. Really, you think you could afford to have collapsed bridges wash about on their own within an wall-enclosed structure ? What else do you imagine ? For instance, what riverbed do you think is stable over thirty-four centuries ? []
  6. See the excellent De Aquis Urbin Romae, S. Julius Frontinus (Curator Aquarium cca 97), by the way, it even includes official pipe standards (metal composition as well as geometry!) and whatnot. If you can imagine this wonder, the Romans actually fell upon what to this very day is a standard (ASTM B67) of metallic fabrication -- and not in the usual forced manner, either. []
Category: Cuvinte Sfiinte
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4 Responses

  1. Xrays in fact bounce. "backscatter". ( Can nitpick, absorbed+reradiated. But same result. )

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 30 December 2017

    I suppose we can construe "bounce" to mean that, though... the whole paragraph's a mess imo.

  1. [...] is absolutely the strangest thing. I said I never forgot a word, and it is probably true. You won't believe however what else I had [...]

  2. [...] any kind of kindnessi. Such was the unglamorous fate of say Murray N. Rothbard, or F. A. Hayek, or Anathem, or C. S. Lewis, or whatever various others that don't readily spring to [...]

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