The I-Ching in The Mess Of Pottage

This post went through a lot of titles, including “Let Yourself Go” and “Working On What’s Been Spoiled By The Father” also “Be The Tall Poppy.”

I realize by now I’ve confused you more than you were by that title.  So be it.  I’ve found I write these posts the same way I write books.  I have a vague idea of the question, and then I have a lot of impressions and thoughts, of poetry and images and feelings which I feel are in some way related to the question.  Writing posts and stories is like assembling all those bits and pieces, so that in the end it stands complete and I see the picture.  And hopefully so do my readers.

The question here started with an excellent series of posts Serdar Yegulalp has been doing over here, each of them his unpacking/unfolding and his own counterpoint of my Human Wave Post.  It’s an excellent series of posts, and I urge everyone to read them.

The particular point he was spinning from was this: You will write in language that can be understood.  You will have an idea of what your story is about, or at least of its beginning, middle and end.  And so will your reader, once he reads it.

And a brutal summarization of his counterpoint – which like a translation is always betraying a little – is that while he believes you should write to reach an audience, he doesn’t think any writer deliberately sets out not to.  (He hasn’t gone to the same writer gatherings I have, but never mind.)  In the middle of making this point, he says something about the thrill of wanting to try new forms, not wanting to tell stories in the same hackneyed way.

Something about his post bothered me, at a sub-rational level, just like a minuscule pebble under your sock bothers you, though you’re not even quite sure you feel something.  But other than commenting on the fact I’d heard writers express the idea that not to be understood by themselves or others was their goal, I left it alone.  There was more than that, though.  However, it was a moving dot upon the page, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Throw into that the Reiner Kunze poem, which again I’m going to quote from my memory of (translated) and therefore probably not faithful, but I can’t find it on the net: “The trees grow, top on top ….. to the wind they all whisper the same.”  In the middle is phrasing I won’t attempt to reproduce because I don’t remember it with any exactness.  Something about filtering the sun and the rain in exact amounts, so none knows the cruelty of thirst.  It applied to his situation – a poem against communism – but not so much to this one.  What I quoted does — that last haunting line in particular “to the wind they all whisper the same.”  Which we’ll agree is the very definition of “establishment publishing.”

Also, last night we watched Prince of Egypt, and my older son, halfway through it, said “why don’t thy just walk out one by one?”  Which, of course, was right.  They could have.  Why “Let my people go” till Egypt was on its knees, the innocent with the guilty alike?  And then I thought, “but one on one, they’re just runaway slaves, hunted down into the desert and most of them dying there.  They’re not a people.  They’re not a movement.”

And then, because I was already in a biblical mood, the story of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage came to mind.  At this point I was starting to get glimmers of what bothered me about Serdar’s post.  It was followed by a recollection of a line that often seems to come up in the I-Ching (don’t ask.  I have a friend who will do I-Ching readings at the drop of a hat) “Work On what has been spoiled by the Father; No blame.”

This morning I found myself singing Leonard Cohen’s song “Show me the place” and struck by the lines “Show me the place; I’ve Forgotten, I don’t Know.”

At which point what bothered me about Serdar’s post came to mind.  He talks of the inscrutable, precious exercises in “literature” – which, yes, I too can enjoy if I’m in the right mood – as being a reaction against the “hackneyed” and “easy” way of telling things.

This – with due apologies – makes as much sense as high school kids today talking about being multi-tattooed and wearing their pants falling off their butt as a reaction against the “suit and tie” establishment.  Are there still people who wear suits and ties?  Sure, mostly stock traders, strictly while at work.  But they’re not in any way a “block” or an establishment.  I bet even there inroads have been made and there are establishments that operate in slacks and unbuttoned shirts.  Everywhere else, casual has won the day.  Don’t believe me?  Go to your doctor, see how he’s dressed.  Likely in jeans and t-shirt.  And my older son has managed to get quite a rise out of his jean-and-t-shirt clad professors by wearing shirt, tie and slacks to class.

So, in effect, these kids are rebelling against an establishment that no longer exists – and which they know only from the movies, which in turn are made by people who are the establishment – by adopting the extreme forms of the establishment today and the “de rigeur” rebellion to be taken seriously by today’s establishment.

In the same way, talking about popular literature that follows some “hackneyed” pattern is curiously dislocated in time.  Oh, sure, some popular authors have a formula.  This falls under “if it works, keep doing it” – but is their formula universal or the way to be successful?  Even more importantly, is it enforced by “the establishment” and are you given perks for it?

Hardly.  Romance is a different thing, to an extent, though even then, until new-publishing came in and woke up publishing, the real establishment was trying to drag romance the way of other genres.

I submit to you that there was a time in which experimenting with new ways of telling stories was refreshing and liberating.  There was a time when starting with a shocking or scatological scene was fresh.

This is no longer so.  Go look at “highly acclaimed” science fiction and find one that isn’t “experimenting” or doesn’t “break the conventions”[ that no longer exist.]

The transgressive is now the norm.  Even Hunger Games straddles the fine line between conventional teen romance and what the establishment enforces.  To succeed, to be pushed, it HAD to bring in social injustice (which tags it as worthy of promotion) and children killing children (which tags it as “transgressive.”)

The exceptions had to be smashing hits in Britain before the Americans were allowed to buy them.  Harry Potter and of course Pratchett.  And for a course on what the establishment is and how hard it holds the line, listen to Pratchett tell of all the years when he was a mega blockbuster bestseller in England and was lucky to sell five thousand copies a book here.  I was a fan of his back then, and I want to tell you, finding his books required devotion and patience.  (Pre-Amazon.)

This is where we are now.

Inventing ever more outre forms of telling a story might give you some sort of satisfaction – it might even get you promoted by the establishment.  But remember the establishment, though still very strong, is having to cope with reality, and with the fact that the choices they made over all these years, choices often made against the market (hence the falling circulation rates) are becoming more and more apparent as competition surfaces.  Also, realize that at this point metaphorically speaking just wearing a mini-skirt to school is not going to be viewed as the approved rebellion.  You’ll need at least the style of lip piercing that resembles “boar tusks” and which in turn will make it hard for you to get a job when school is over.  Or it will make it hard for you to sell to those people out there, in the street, beyond the group think of the establishment.  (Again the falling circulation rates.)

The problem as I see it is this: we sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.  Instead of keeping the best of the story telling tradition built up since the Iliad, we went searching in the wilderness for the rebellion, the startling and the shocking.  This is fine in moderation.  It’s how literature grows and changes.  The outre becomes integrated and accepted and moves the establishment in another direction.  But for the last five decades we’ve been engaged in something quite different – an orgy of tearing down and chewing to pieces, that proposed nothing but chaos as an alternative.

The rebels who became the establishment were not — it turns out — pushing an alternate way of doing things.  Just the continuous tearing down of the old way.  They brought no trowels or spades, only wrecking balls.

Literature is how people think of themselves.  Mystery is how we think through problems of justice and order.  Romance is how we think of the relationship between the genders.  Science fiction is our dreams of the future.  Fantasy is our dreams of the unseen and the supernatural.

Of these romance and fantasy lost their way perhaps the least.  But the others have been – now – thoroughly torn down.  Kicking the fragments to pieces takes no daring and it achieves nothing except rubble.

So am I proposing to go back to the way it was before the great unlearning?  No.  We’re not the same people.  Heck, when the rebels started getting hold of the seats of power, I was learning to speak and walk.  Without the tear down, things would have evolved, but now there’s nothing left of them, and we’re different.  We’re like a sixteen year old who hasn’t read anything since kindergarten and picture books and must now find something that speaks to him, only it doesn’t exist so he must invent it/write it.

Writing another “transgressive” piece is easy.  We’ve read hundreds of them.  Writing a piece that will actually appeal to people without the massive promotion and push that used to be brought to bear (and still is – coff – Hunger Games) by the establishment is difficult.  We’re working on what has been spoiled by the metaphorical father, and while there might be no blame, we also don’t have a lot to work with.  Some people manage it, and become bestsellers on Amazon, but they’re still flukes.  A literature with broad appeal has yet to be invented.  We sold our birthright for a mess of (transgressive) pottage, and now we must create another, letter by letter, word by word, book by book.

The new establishment is losing power by the moment, and it’s possible to “let yourself go” – it has to be done that way, anyway, one by one, writer by writer.  But we’ll still be only voices crying in the desert, unless we’re all sort of pointed in the same direction – the direction here being appealing to the largest possible number of people and telling them who they are.  More importantly, telling them who they can be.  All without attempts to drag them down into the mud, or tear down what they need to live day by day.

It’s not easy.  We have no templates, really.  A few, perhaps.  Pratchett is a rather large beacon.  But there are few others, working today, and most aren’t taken seriously.

And – pardon me, but on the weekend of Passover and Easter allow me to say this – we might very well wander for a generation in the desert.

But I believe it’s an endeavor worth trying.  A civilization unable to think about itself without putting itself down and demeaning its individual members  – or hating humanity in general (there’s a whole subgenre I call human-extinction porn) is by definition ill.  No, healing it is not the job of literature – but literature is PART of that job.  Working on that is a worthy endeavor – or at least it seems so to me, and I refuse to believe I am alone.

And again, given what weekend this is, forgive me for quoting Leonard Cohen again in this way: “Show me the place; Help me roll away the stone; Show me the place; I can’t move this thing alone.”

56 responses to “The I-Ching in The Mess Of Pottage

  1. ppaulshoward

    Amen.

  2. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said H.G. Wells (in pushing his socialist agenda over the quality of his storytelling) had sold his birthright for a pot of message.

    The more things change…

  3. Oh yes.

    A lot here. I think, on losing our birthright – it’s all still there, but yes, we’re going to have work to bring it back and there are all kinds of people who will fight us at every step. I was delighted to read that the top free books downloaded to kindle were classics like Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Yes, it means new writers have to compete with everything ever written now, but it means we aren’t going to lose anything anymore (knock on wood – there’s a part of me that’s waiting for it all to blow up, but I’m a cynic). But we can still find what used to be. Yes, we redefine and update for attitudes that have changed since then (though I’m not so arrogant as to think what we have now must be the Final Way, because there is no such thing).

    As for tearing down the rebellion that has become the new overbearing establishment, the beauty of it is, we don’t have to tear down anything. If someone wants to write deconstructionist grey goo, more power to them. Just as long as I don’t have to read it, and I can read and write stuff that isn’t (Go Human Wave!) and I’m not artificially kept away from reaching an audience or unable to find what I want to read.

    On suits – I wore suits back in the day (I had a wonderful time going to my local comics store after work in the full skirt suit and pumps). And we moved to business casual, and yes, casual is way more comfortable and I’ll choose it over the suit, but I also found out why we had suits to begin with. Like military uniforms. suits make you look good and powerful (note to guys, you look really good in suits. Also musketeer shirts), and it’s hard to make casual work if you’re not a fit youngish male. I saw a difference in how I was treated as a dumpy middle-aged female, and I have to work to compensate (fitted jackets are my friend). Sad to say, we do judge by appearances, just as we judge books by their covers.

    On Hunger Games, I have absolutely no desire to read it, or watch the movie. But I might have felt differently as a teen – I think teens are quite keen to see teens kill other teens. I was definitely more interested in dystopias as a teen, as long as the dystopia was overthrown. Part of the teen rebellion thing, I suspect. I was very fond of John Christopher’s Tripod trilogy as a kid, and that’s downright bleak.

    • Like military uniforms. suits make you look good and powerful (note to guys, you look really good in suits.

      Please, please, do not awake anything that might resemble an inner Mrs. Bennett. But yes, I do agree that a man looks good in a properly fitted suit.

      I liked the Tripod trilogy, and thought it was about fighting one, even with only a glimmer of hope against overwhelming forces. I guess I might have to revisit it.

      • Heh. For some reason, you made me think of something from “Operation: Outer Space”, by Murray Leinster. It was a commercial the main character was watching:

        “You can disagree, yes siree, you can disagree, About anything, indeed everything, you and me, But you can’t, no you can’t disagree, About the strictly super, extra super, Qualitee of a Har-ve-e-e-e suit! That’s superb!”

      • “I liked a red coat well enough, in my day. And … in my heart, I still do.”

    • I wore suits — I liked mine tailored thirties style… because I’m insane. Also, the whole cloche suit where it’s like a man’s suit but oversized. I wouldn’t wear that again, unless I manage to lose eighty pounds, not the forty I think I need to lose.

      BUT as a middle aged — less dumpy than I used to be — female I’ve found dresses and skirts are WAY more flattering than jeans.

      • Hate suits, with a deep and abiding passion. And you can take that to mean either the clothing or the people who wear them.

        *ducks and runs*

        • As a physicist, working in a really cutting edge field (Atomic Force Microscopy) in my day job I get to play iconoclast-tech-geek to the hilt. Black denim trousers, black polo shirt, hair worn long in a ponytail, dyed black with a purple streak.

          And nobody says boo–even when I got to deal with customers at their own sites (we buy and sell used equipment alongside our analytical services business).

          Suits make one look powerful? That, my friends, _is_ power. ;)

          • Back when I was a programmer, I found it was best to look slightly scruffy or no one would take me seriously – after all, what programmer has the time to look polished? Now I’m an accountant, I find the same thing – professional casual, but just slightly scruffy, to remind people I’m more techy.

            Everything has its uniform.

            • Exactly. My father has suffered from looking very young. His profession is the law. He would always wear a well tailored three piece suit for court appearances. It added a certain gravitas.

              • My husband eventually put on 100 pounds and grew a beard, and people would take him much more seriously. Now he’s lost one hundred and forty something pounds. He’s small-framed (Other than massive shoulders) and just a little taller than I (an inch or two.) Other than the silver in his hair — only visible in bright light — he looks early thirties. I’m very afraid this will affect his career adversely. Meh. If it does, we strike out on our own. What a brave new world this is, that has such opportunities in it.

                • I happened to be present when my father was arguing an appeal and the opposing counsel made the mistake of referring to him as, ‘Young Mr. X’ and then allowed that while Mr. X is obviously very bright, he might not have the necessary experience. The head of the court, a friend of my father, slammed him from the bench.

          • In a highly technical field, there is an expectation in others that one who is skilled in the technical side is going to be unskilled in social graces. If you were to dress in a suit, your customers may very well believe that you’re nothing but a salesperson who knows nothing about his product.

    • Oh, I agree we don’t have to tear it down — the thing is, if we are more successful than they are, they WILL attempt to tear US down. The reason I said that each writer can set himself free, is that the way to the red sea is no longer blocked, and lo and behold, the waters of publishing have parted. (I have got to stop watching Prince of Egypt. Seriously.)

      • They will get shriller and shriller, and quieter and quieter, until they die of monetary starvation and old age. Ignore them, soon everybody will.

      • “If we are more successful than they are, they WILL attempt to tear US down.”

        I wish you weren’t right, but I’m so afraid you are. I don’t understand it, I’m a live and let live; if I don’t like something, I change the channel or don’t buy it, but I don’t demand it get off the air or be banned altogether, and I don’t get why THEY can’t be the same.

    • First, a properly chosen and fitted suit is comfortable for the work typically done therein. A tie that “chokes” is indicative of either a collar too tight (so shed some pounds or buy a new shirt) or psychological issues.

      A suit is the proper uniform for the tasks undertaken, it conveys to the observer and the wearer both that the suited one is engaged in a serious process.

      Yeah, I’m an accountant. When people entrust me to do their books I figure they are entitled to the psychological benefit of my appearing serious. It is the uniform for the job, like glitter, pasties and fishnet stockings are the uniform for a stripper.

      • My father, also a suit-wearing accountant, said, with a shrug, Hey, for what they pay me, I’d wear a clown suit if that was what was required.

    • The last time I wore a suit was when the state of Nebraska decided it needed me to sit on a jury. I showed up in full kit: Black fedora; three-piece black-with-pinstripes suit, double-breasted jacket, cuffed trousers; black overcoat (it was fall); black wingtips.

      I passed security-theatre, and took a seat in the waiting room. A few minutes later, I heard a voice behind me whisper “I wonder which mafia family *he* belongs to”.

      Immediately, I said, “Gambino — why do you ask?”

      A couple minutes later, I looked up, and noticed there was a ring of empty seats ten-wide in all directions around me; and that the other people there kept casting nervous glances my way.

      I’m sure it’s coincidence I didn’t get called that day; and that when I returned home, there was a message from the State telling me my presence would not be required further…. >;)

      So: Most men may look good in a suit; I just scare the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed s*** out of people. (And that ain’t a patch on how I look in my Convention Formal garb…. :) )

    • Thank you for mentioning John Christophers Tripod trilogy, I also enjoyed them as a kid. And I was recently thinking of them and possibly about rereading them, but it had been so long that I couldn’t remember the author, until you mentioned it.

  4. I believe it was Kurt Busiek who said that deconstruction is no good unless you use what you learn to put it back together and improve it.

  5. “Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties.”

  6. I wonder if, as a general culture, we haven’t ever properly learned to be constructive. I’ve known a lot of people, in different ways, to be extremely good at telling what’s “wrong” in something (a piece of art, a piece of writing, a rule, a behavior, etc), vague and meaningless in what is “right” in the same piece, and at a complete loss as to what to say to improve what’s wrong.

    Obviously, I’m over-generalizing. But I feel like the point holds fairly true: people have been taught to be negative, not properly taught how to be positive, and largely at a loss on how to be constructive and build towards the future. I think, even, that some people are afraid to say anything really positive (in the sense of “you can pin your hat on this: it’s good” and would rather be very vague and general in case they’re “wrong” about what is “good” about something).

    I can’t say as I’m 100% right in any of this. Individuals skew generalities. I’ve known a lot of people who have nothing to do with the things I was rambling above and are more likely to be vague about what is “bad” than they are what is “good” or who are excellent in pointing out strengths, weaknesses, and offering suggestions for improvements in a way that is balanced and helpful.

    But speaking in generalities, where the cup is most often seen as half empty, it has to come across in fiction as well. It certainly is there in textbooks. The past is a dark and awful, narrow-minded, evil place. Humans need a cleansing and only the enlightened deserve any measure of being spared from that cleansing – that sort of thing.

    I feel like this is the reason why movies and books that see the world with fresh, hopeful, uplifting eyes seem so tender. They’re rare like unicorns these days – and as often mocked.

    • Because things that are uplifting and tender aren’t COOL. And it’s so much easier to tear down than to build something. After all, when you actually build something, it’s never perfect, there will always be mistakes – and fixing those mistakes just creates new problems – and there’s always someone who’s never built anything who’s ready to point out every flaw, in THAT tone of voice.

      I’m not against constructive criticism and we do need to know what we did wrong so we learn not to do it the next time, but there’s a difference between an honest appraisal and a self-important tear-down.

      I’m of the opinion that everything that’s worthwhile in life is completely hokey and uncool. And “cool” loses more and more of its appeal the older I get. Or maybe I’m just re-defining “cool.”

    • I think part of this is that it’s easy to feel smarter than others when you tear down. When you try to build, it’s much more difficult. Let us not be small. Let us BUILD.

      • Humph – since you’ve said it I have to find someway to expand … what we’ve become is the snarky smart-alecky kids who sit in the back and crack wise. We sow not, neither do we reap, but we’re extra-special cool about ridiculing the ones who do.

        Then we deride them as the greedy 1% and demand they return to us what we never earned.

        ‘Cause that’s easier than trying, than taking a risk ourselves.

        • That’s the essence of the bully: the claim of ownership, on the ground of ability to destroy and the creator’s inability to protect.

          Trouble is, it’s inherently limited. Not everybody can be the bully; somebody has to have lunch money, or the bully has no scope. But if the bully is taken as having high status, everyone will attempt to achieve that.

    • I know whereof this attitude of negativity comes from–it’s an adolescent habit reinforced by college: it implies you have a discerning eye to see what’s wrong. It implies intelligence and a refined palate and a breadth of education far beyond what the oiks gaping in appreciation at some simple-minded piece of entertainment can possibly grasp.

      It took years of deprogramming–and having children–to understand that seeing beauty, seeing what went *right*, is the best sign of intelligence.

      • One of the big problems in our society, IMAO, is that we prolong adolescence so much many people congeal at that state and never become real adults.

        • Go take a look at an old movie, say one of the Garland/Rooney musicals. Notice how the kids dressed. Now we’ve reversed it, which says i no not what about our culture.

          • Basically, it says that parents are busier than they were then. Keeping kids in clean, nice looking cloth takes work.

            • My zen discipline is ironing button down shirts. Yeah, you guys think I’m joking. But I have this professional steam iron which gives me just enough speed to get through the ironing, but the work is repetitive, BUT demands just enough attention that it keeps me doing it. So the hands and the eyes are very busy and the brain can plot. I started ironing Dan’s “going to work” shirts, and then the guys started wearing them too (anything for attention) so I try to do this once a week. I know it will sound insane, but it’s good for my mind. Very restful. If I don’t have plotting to do, I watch TV, often educational stuff (or mystery.)

              • For a bonus, my kids’ classmates think they’re mormon… :-P

              • On one visit to my father I heard my step-mother complaining that someone had given her youngest a shirt, with ruffles no less, that required ironing. She was floored when I happily took on the chore.

            • You assume that the parents did all the care. There movies are set at a time where many in the middle class had help. Although it is not dwelled upon in the stories, kids were generally expected to do chores. Finally this was a world of ironing and wool that had to be dry cleaned. Unless you were ‘spoiled’ you learned to be careful of your clothes.

            • Busier now? Maybe you (or I) need to see those movies again. They were set in the Depression and early WWII when my families were widely separated by the needs of finding work and serving overseas. And as has been noted, the world had far fewer labor-saving devices such as vacuum cleaners, electric washers & dryers, microwave ovens … As well, far more people spent time with gardens and the produce: canning and preserving their own fruits and vegetables. Clothes, as has been noted required more care and many households sewed their own outfits (a woman’s sewing dummy was standard in most middle class homes, I believe.)

              I just don’t think the households depicted in those films had that much free time. Helicoptering parents is a relatively recent development.

              • Housework was a full time job back then, but I think it was also treated as such. The percent of families who didn’t have a stay at home adult was much smaller.

  7. We’ve only been telling each other stories for some 40,000 years. It’s not like we have any background on what works, and what survives.
    ;) What book do you think is most transgressive to the current establishment?
    I nominate Moby Dick.

    • And you’d be correct. But how we tell stories has changed. Because of movies and other stuff, our way of RECEIVING story has changed. For instance, Jane Austen describes NOTHING. She’d never get published in the current establishment for that alone, absent all the rest. I HAVE to do a post on this.

  8. As for why not slip out one-by-one, that wasn’t His plan. At this time of year it is useful to remind ourselves of the message of the sedar (well, one of them, any way) He will make of you a great nation. The wandering in the desert (remember, Moishe took them straight to the promised land but too many cried “it’s too hard” and so the meandering commenced.)

  9. As for suits, my current position requires I dress professionally–it was quite a shock coming from a job where my Earth-mother skirts and colorful tops were considered formal wear–I don’t think any of the unix admins there *had* pants that weren’t torn . . . but I’ve come to understand my boss’s reasoning: as support techs in an extremely hierarchical environment, we’re like the governesses of old–not servants, not masters, but in limbo between. He wants us to dress like the masters to wring what possible respect we can out of the situation.

    • When I was teaching (Flat State University), I wore suits or a blazer and skirt so that people could tell that I was the instructor. Similar situation to yours, Kali – I wasn’t tenured (baggy casual) faculty but I certainly was not (lots of skin casual) an undergrad.

  10. Is it wrong of me to want to rewrite Exodus as Military-SF? Esp. considering the archaeological evidence cropping up re how the battles featured in the Bible might have happened….

    Short form: The Israelites had been planning their departure for some while. First step was the secret evacuation of the old, the feeble, the crippled, and the very young — the folks who would move slowest on a march (when the Egyptians asked: “Oh, [s]he died during the night; the funeral’s been done — in the ground before next sundown, you know”). Next, start moving out the folks who are slow, but could be used as second-line troops. Finally, move out the fighters. (“Won’t the Egyptians notice the thinning numbers?” Not necessarily — look up how often armies have used the trick of having a few men tending hundreds of campfires, to conceal night-time movement.)

    The last group gives Pharaoh something to focus on which isn’t the easy targets — while he’s hammering on them, the first group is making a clean getaway, while the second is preparing the next batch of anti-chariot traps and/or the kit for crossing the various rivers. By the time the Red (or Reed — there’s some question) Sea is reached, the first group is safely away, and the area is a killing-zone where mobility is marginalized, and numbers count for little. The Israelites administer a final smacking-down of the Egyptians, then de-ass across the river with the quickness, leaving the Egyptians to wonder how’n’ell they did it. Cue Epic Storytelling. :)