Writing Samples:
Re-Towering Babel, or A Humanist Pep-Sermon

© 2010, Jeffrey Cranor

I.
Once,
they climbed to the top of the tower,
a language of power,
Babel's spires of words.
That gibberish they heard
was meaning.
They were gleaning
truths
and tales
of people fleeing
their ignorance,
taking no chances
with time slipping by.
Then God
handed the congregation
a conflagration
of biblical proportions.
He
smote them.
I
quote them.
The towerbuilders
say NO,
say WHOA,
say GODDAMN,
say God damned us,
and that tower,
that shower
of
rumbling stones
and words
shattering bones.
Screams went
unanswered,
no longer understood.
That unified voice
was a bold
international choice
to challenge the top cat
with a shared blood of letters
and language,
human limitations languishing,
knowledge flourishing,
pumping, coursing
through the arteries
of history.
Unification,
solidarity,
education,
anti-authoritarian Temerity:
all weapons greater than
one oppressive god,
him-
(her-?)
self,
but
because it was built
on a manmade shelf -
that obelisk, decorated with the intellectual mural -
the single language
which they created
was once again
plural.

II.
But nonetheless,
nonetheless,
nonetheless,
wherever you stand -
blue tie, red tie -
in this age of
babbling faces in ratings races,
we're not so different
you and I,
as the answers lie
in the spaces
between the questions.
Example:
"Who are we?" is not so important
as what we do,
what you do.

III.
What do you do?

IV.
Build a new tower?
Oh yes?
Because regardless
of what you have in
your real power
you will feel power-
less when you
test the one who's
best at
wresting the
greatest successes
from your
cold
dead
hands.

V.
Let me make it so
that you must let go
of the notion
that anyone
can tell you
that he knows,
that she knows,
that we have no
more strength than
a mortal,
because that's bullshit.
You must go, though,
knowing that
the moment you show
that you're in control
is the moment God comes gunning,
that God comes running
to knock down your Babel,
turn it to gravel,
and begin it all over again.
And you're tower-less
But not powerless
Because you're Sisyphus!
And Sisyphyus' stone
is not about damnation
but proving to civilization
that you won't lie prone,
willpower blown
by a fatalist tyrant
who abuses the throne.
I hope my feelings
leave you reeling,
as I call you
- all you -
from beyond
this fourth wall.
You remember this:

VI.
I say it now.
It was said then,
and it will be said again.
Pay no attention
to that man
behind the curtain.