Sunday, July 31, 2022

NPH 421 and spontaneous human combustion

On July 28, 2022, I was stopped at a red light when I noticed the text on the back of the T-shirt of the motorcyclist in front of me. It was written in the style of an eye chart, and it said: "Stay with me boy. See the world through the eyes of Mickey. Don't stop looking." I assume this was some sort of mutant Disney knockoff, but in the current synchronistic context I figured "Mickey" (a nickname for Michael) was more likely to be a hawk-eyed archangel than a mouse. Anyway, I took it as an injunction to keep my eyes and mind open.

At the next light, my eyes were drawn as if by magnetism to a license plate that read NPH 421. That means Nephi, of course, an important name in the Book of Mormon, so my first thought was that the numbers were giving chapter and verse. There are four books of Nephi, and none of them has 42 chapters, so I looked up 4:21 in each of the first three books of Nephi. Fourth Nephi is very short and isn't divided into chapters, so I checked 4 Ne. 21. Of the four verses I checked, only one of them struck me as in any way noteworthy:

He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh (2 Ne. 4:21).

I thought that was an odd turn of phrase. In the Bible, the "consuming of flesh" is always associated with burnt offerings, destruction by fire, and horrible plagues. The verse from Nephi made me think of Paul's equally strange statement that "though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Cor. 13:3). Paul's other examples of things that are worthless without charity include prophesying, having great faith, feeding the poor, and the like; how did "giving my body to be burned" make it onto that list of good works? How is that even a good work at all? I thought it might be a reference to submitting to fiery martyrdom of the type pioneered by Nero and taken up centuries later by the Inquisition, but 1 Corinthians was written before Nero's accession to the throne, and I don't think "being burned" would have been an understandable reference to martyrdom at that time.

Then I had the thought that 421 was a year, not a scripture reference. AD 421 is, after all, the very last date in the Book of Mormon chronology, the year in which Moroni, the last surviving Nephite (NPH), finished the book -- an abridgment of the Plates of Nephi, with additions by Mormon and Moroni -- and buried it in the earth.

Then I remembered that in my July 2021 post "In the sync stream" had prominently featured Moroni (both the Nephite and the city in the Comoros) and even mentioned that the "golden plates are supposed to have been buried by Moroni in the Hill Cumorah." 

In the opening paragraph of that post, I had written that "when I think Moby-Dick, I think 'The Whiteness of the Whale' and I think 'Loomings.'" Then at the end of the post, I noted seeing the number 142 and feeling it was significant, not knowing why until eventually I "realized that 1 and 42 are the numbers of the two Moby-Dick chapters I mention in the first paragraph."

But I had actually begun the post by mentioning first "The Whiteness of the Whale" (Chapter 42) and then "Loomings" (Chapter 1) -- not 142, but 421. Then in the same post I had gone on to mention, for reasons entirely unrelated to Moby-Dick, Moroni's burying the golden plates -- which is supposed to have occurred in AD 421. Not until now, a year later, did I make the connection.

Moroni, the last survivor of his people, passed on their history to future generations. This is precisely the role played in Moby-Dick by Ishmael, the sole survivor of the wreck of the Pequod. The epilogue begins with an epigram from the Book of Job: "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee."

One of the comments on my "In the sync stream" post began: "Interesting. The license plate post was also good."

So satisfying was that interpretation of NPH 421 -- the last Nephite in the year 421 -- that I dismissed my earlier attempts at chapter-and-verse interpretations as barking up the wrong tree. Then I noticed my July 30 post "And then the message said, 'End of message," which ends with what I admit is a completely unrelated reference to spontaneous human combustion.

Spontaneous human combustion -- doesn't that very obviously sync with "He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh" (2 Ne. 4:21)? Also it's a little known fact that the name Nephi is not original to the Book of Mormon but appears in one of the apocryphal books of the Bible -- as the name not of a person but of a flammable liquid (2 Macc. 1:36). Nephi is the King James rendering; most modern translations have naphtha.

Why does my July 30 post have the title it has? I was posting about how I had just finished reading a book called The Messengers, so "end of message" seemed appropriate. The precise wording, though, is from one of Joe Biden's teleprompter gaffes.

In my December 2020 post "American politician spontaneously combusts!" I describe my absurd but persistent premonition about the spontaneous combustion of Joe Biden (without mentioning Biden by name). Later, in September 2021, I had a dream in which reference was repeatedly made to "Joe Biden, the Human Torch"; days later, Biden suddenly acquired the nickname Brandon, which is French for "firebrand."

My 2020 post quoted an excerpt from Unsong in which George W. Bush bursts into flames after someone hacks his teleprompter and makes him utter a magic word that has that effect. One of the comments to that post said:

After reading the George Bush excerpt, I think 'spontaneous human combustion' might be a metaphor for a politician 'melting down' during a public appearance. Justly or unjustly, Biden is particularly singled out among politicians as someone who relies on a teleprompter to keep on track.

Then, yesterday, without consciously making the connection at all, I published a post with a Biden teleprompter gaffe as a title, and although it is primarily a post about Mike Clelland's book on owls, I included a reference to Unsong and then one to spontaneous human combustion.

1 comment:

Ben Pratt said...

Astonishing. I remember reading the 142 post and feeling that there was something right there just out of reach.

They have a fight, Triangle wins, Triangle Man

A monster made of hundreds of tiny triangles