Study Guide

Snow Crash Chapter 28

By Neal Stephenson

Chapter 28

  • Hiro walks into a room where the Librarian says there is more material that might help; it's full of archaeological artifacts and hypercards.
  • The Librarian talks Hiro through the artifacts: There's an ancient Sumerian clay envelope from the city of Eridu (now in Iraq), a black obelisk containing the Code of Hammurabi, and a treelike structure depicting a totem called an asherah.
  • The latter two are in museums, while the envelope's in Rife's personal collection (his college's archaeological department has been conducting digs in Eridu).
  • The envelope contains the nam-shub of Enki, which is both a story and an incantation, and is supposed to change the speech in men's mouths—rather like what happened with the Tower of Babel.
  • According to the Librarian, Lagos's theory was that Babel was a real historical event, which coincided with the vanishing of the Sumerian language, and afterward, languages tended toward divergence rather than convergence.
  • Hiro puts the pieces together: Enki's nam-shub was a neurolinguistic virus. It infected people's brains and could be spread by clay tablets. Whoa.

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