Abstract Steel

Anish Kapoor’s London Tower is posed as the centerpiece of not only London’s Olympic Park, but of London itself.

From the Guardian.UK, is something about the artist’s inspiration in his own words,

Kapoor said one of his references was the Tower of Babel. “There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It’s a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it.”

Thomas Keyes, writing at the useless-knowledge web site,

“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 morter. 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. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called BABEL; because the Lord did there CONFOUND the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

and:

Here is a comment from a Christian apologist on Babylon: “With all the effrontery of our modern apostates, they called their city and tower Bab-El, the gate of God; but it was soon changed by divine judgment into Babel, Confusion.”

The only trouble with this statement is that BABEL (or BAVEL) does not mean “confusion” in Hebrew, except by someone making an allusion to the passage from Genesis. In fact, the word BABEL is an extremely unlikely word in Hebrew, which, like Arabic and other Semitic languages, uses triconsonantal roots. A typical Hebrew root, like KELEV (dog) or SEFER (book), has three consonants, which may be referred to as C1, C2 and C3, that is, K-L-V of S-F-R. Words with C2 and C3 the same are common: BALAL (to mix, confound, involve, embroil); SOVEV (revolving, spinning); KOMEM (rising). But words with C1 and C2 the same are very unusual. BAB can probably be explained as having lost a medial W. This can be seen in the Arabic word BAWABA (great gate) as against BAB (gate).

(The holding interpretation stills wins the day, Thomas.)

So it shall be for me that Kapoor’s odd looking work will always be associated with his mythic enthusiasm. Kapoor’s web site is stellar.

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