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Coats, Dreams and Jealousy
Video 6 of 21
Okay, when we think of two things like the internet and the Torah, we think of two things that probably could not be more unlike each other; the Torah is this scared code of law, the internet is neither sacred, nor is it a code of law, but I think there is something essentially internet like about the Torah and let me give you an example of what I mean. I mean that the Torah was the original internet three thousand years ago without electricity, without computers, without anything. Before all that, there was the Torah and in many ways, it was the original internet and here is what I mean by that.
When you think about the internet, if you go back before the internet and I am thinking not that long ago, to let’s say 1989. So back in the beginning when the earth was formless and void, when there was nothing, there was no World Wide Web, there was no Netscape, there was no HTML, there was no email; back then, there was Al Gore.
Al Gore at the time was running for president and if you recall his early speeches as a youthful Al Gore over here, he use to have a metaphor for the coming information revolution. Everybody sort of knew that an information revolution was brewing, that something was coming down the pike in 1989. But, nobody knew exactly what it was going to be like.
So at that time, Al Gore was campaigning on this sort of platform that whatever this was that was coming, that it needed to be accessible to everyone. And he had a favorite metaphor that he would use for this. I wonder if you remember his metaphor. I remember it. He used to talk about an ‘Information Super Highway’, and he used to say that the ‘Information Super Highway’ needs to be accessible to everyone, we need to make sure there is all these on ramps and off ramps and all these sort of highway metaphors. And what’s interesting is that as the internet actually developed, nobody actually called it an ‘Information Super Highway’, when was the last times you’ve heard those words, ‘Information Super Highway’? People talk about the internet, people talk about the World Wide Web; nobody talks about the ‘Information Super Highway’. So how come, this sort of metaphor for what the internet became never caught on? Or to put that another way, why is this sort of image, over here you can kind of see the ‘Information Super Highway’, and I think in our mind’s eye when we think about an ‘Information Super Highway’, this is kind of what we think of, those images like this one, where there’s time light photography at nights and see the speeding car going off in this direction and that direction. And the problem with this image, on the one hand you get this sense of this image of information racing along kind of at the speed of light in various different directions, and that’s very good in that it’s kind of internet like, but the problem with it is, it is too linear.
The image of an ‘Information Super Highway’ in your mind’s eye, is like six lanes of traffic going this way, and then six lanes of traffic going this way, but it’s kind of all in a straight line and that’s not actually what the internet is. The internet is what we call a World Wide Web or we call it an Internet. If you think about the common denominator with these ideas, the common denominator is this sort of like interconnectivity, it’s not linear at all; it’s web like. And the truth is that a web is a far more powerful means of connecting information than straight lines.
To give you an example of what I mean, here is an example of an airline route map. You find these things that are in the magazines that are in the seat back in front of you when you fly on these long flights. Now, if you just took a quick glance at these route maps and you knew something about geography, even if you ignored these sort of Asian characters over here at the top of the map, you would be able to figure out what kind of airline you’re looking at right. You’re probably not looking at American Airlines, you’re probably not looking at United Airlines, you’re probably looking at something based out of China; in fact, you’re looking at the map for China Airlines. And the reason why the reason why it is so easy to see that this is the map of China Airlines, is because the hub all centers around here, all centers around China, this is where all the flights are coming from. That’s actually the way, if you think about the way companies like Google, or companies that have really made a lot of money on the internet, they’ve done it by mapping the web in this sort of way; by finding the hubs. How does Google do it? How can Google in a second find you exactly what you’re looking for? It’s because they’ve mapped the interconnections. They see, for any given word of idea, where the hubs are, where everybody is linking to, where most websites are linking to, and they point you to there.
If you are looking up Llama, if you want to know, what is a Llama, in a second right, in .17 seconds, Google is going to show you these are the main things you want to look at for figuring out Llama. You’re going to look at Wikipedia, that’s because Wikipedia has the most number of links in it; when websites want to show you Llama’s they link to Wikipedia. The second site is going to be National Geographic, this is the other place that people link to. So, Google will show you all this and they are able to do this because of the web like nature of the internet, because it really is a World Wide Web. They can map the information much like China Airlines Maps its own route, and they can show you the really important places; the hub, for what it is that you are looking for.
So when I say that the Torah is the original internet, what I mean is that there is this same kind of web-like linking mechanism at work in the Torah as a way of sort of multiplying the information effect, the same way that on the web there is sort of a unlimited amount of information, there’s a lot of information, there is actually the linkages between information, the cross-referencing between information that gives the web it’s power and it’s that way with the Torah too.
So on the web, as you know, there are these things called hyperlinks, these things in blue are going to be hyperlinked and if you move your mouse over them, and you click on one of them, it’s going to actually take you to Wikipedia and if you click over here, it’s going to actually take you to National Geographic. I want to argue that the Torah also has hyperlinks. So you say “that’s crazy there was no electricity. What would hyperlink look like before electricity?” Well, what would they look like before electricity?
So I want to argue that the hyperlinks are here. The hyperlinks are what I am calling intertextuality, and again, it’s a fancy word but here is what it means. So let’s say you’re reading story number one over here. As you’re reading story one, you notice that there is this Element A, and there is a certain idea over here and it’s followed by Element B, C, D, E and F. And imagine that each one of these is very distinctive; there might be a distinctive word, there might be a distinctive kind of idea, there might be a distinctive kind of way of phrasing something, but something catches your eye as you’re reading and you say “hmm, you know that sounds like an unusual sort of Element, that’s Element A”, and then lo and behold you said, “you know, I’ve heard that somewhere”, and you start playing this game. And the intertextuality game basically goes like this, it’s just a matter of playing this game, “Where have we heard these words before?”
Just kind of ask yourself this as you’re going through the Torah and you say “gee, Element A, I remember Element A. Element A appears in this other story over here, you know, like fifteen chapters earlier or something’, and there is something that reminds me of Element A, not exactly the same, it’s like a different version of it but that is like the same word”. And lo and behold, you look at that and it’s that same kind of phrase that’s appearing right over here. But then you notice that “gee, there is this Element B over here and there is another version of Element B appearing in that same story number two”, and then the same thing starts happening with a whole bunch of these elements. And pretty soon you’re saying right around here, await a second, this can’t be coincidental; these are the links, these are the hyperlinks.
What the Torah is really telling you is, you want to understand what’s really going on over here in Story number one, and you’ve got to understand story number two. Story number two is acting as a kind of commentary in story number one, and in that kind of way, it’s giving you something I call, sort of binocular vision, a stereo way of looking at things.
If you imagine binoculars, and I give this analogy in my other course, I just want to revisit over here. So you have story A over here, then you have story B over here, and what’s happening is that story B is shedding light on story A. But what happen is the way our mind create a sensation of gaps, do you ever wonder how you sort of see things in three dimensions? How do we have that sense of depth? It’s because, why do we even have two eyes? And the answer is because with one eye, we can basically see the same thing as the other eye. But each eye gives us a slightly different perspective on something, because our eyes are placed in different places in our head so we see two slightly different images. Our brain doesn’t show us slightly different images; our brain actually merges these two images together. And when you merge two images together, each one kind of acting as a kind of commentary on the other, each one is sort of an anchor for your understanding of the other that creates a sense of depth in your mind. And I think the same thing is happening in text.
What happen in story A is only in story A. How does story A becomes deep? This was really Joe’s question. Where is there depth in these sentences? But there is plenty of depth in it right? If story A is linked to story B, maybe there is this whole web of linkages, maybe there are other stories that’s also linked too, there is a tremendous amount of depth, almost an infinite amount of depth, that you can imagine the Torah being a series of World Wide Web of interconnected webs with these hyperlinks. Each one of these is shedding light on various different stories, with all these different stories kind of acting as commentaries upon each other.
Now this may sound a little bit abstract, because I am just sort of laying out the theory for you. But, as we continue in this course, we’re going to see this over and over again. This happens in spades throughout the Joseph story, and what unfolds is a magnificent series of hyperlinks that create this fascinating meta-commentary that the Torah is giving us on the Joseph story. I believe this is going to be a fascinating journey. I wanted to just get our feet wet here by again challenging you, as you continue to read from where we were up to in Chapter 37, as you continue to read the next verses, are there any echoes of any other narrative in the Book of Genesis that happened previously? I believe that there are. Let’s come back next video and try and uncover them.
1. What Were They Thinking?
2. Building Tensions
3. From Hatred to Jealousy
4. What Was Jacob Thinking?
5. A Break From the Action
6. The Original Internet
7. The Hidden Hyperlinks
8. A Confluence of Echoes
9. Where Have I Heard This Before?
10. The Brothers' Perspective
11. When Three Are One
12. Will the Real Firstborn Please Stand Up?
13. Bechor: A Tale of Twos
14. Rabbi Soloveitchik's Theory
15. Joseph's Undershirt
16. The Meaning of the Second Coat
17. Four Links
18. Double Entendre
19. The Riddle of the Bowing Moon
20. The Hidden Angel
21. Chain of Words
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