Monday, February 15, 2016

Page 232: Bill Gates—Antichrist?

From the Omen trilogy (1976–1981) to the Son of Satan comics, we read on page 232 a list of ways in which the legend of Satan (and those presumably allied with him) has become positively epic in popular culture. One of the more obscure references here is to the notion that Bill Gates is the anti-Christ, based on the observation that his name—when the letters are translated into their corresponding ASCII values—adds up to 666:
B = 66
I = 73
L = 76
L = 76

G = 71
A = 65
T = 84
E = 69
S = 83

I = 1
I = 1
I = 1
= 666
Check the math, it works.

Is Bill Gates the devil? Or at least Keyser Soze? Not so fast!
[Image source: here. This image appears on several blogs, but none give a photo credit.]

There are a few problems here, of course. To arrive at 666 we are forced to use not “Bill Gates” (as he is best known) but “Bill Gates III.” As opposed to “William Gates,” “William Henry Gates III,” or any other variation on his name. Also, there’s a problem with that “III” part of the solution: There is no ASCII symbol with a value of 1; that value is reserved for the SOH (start of heading) character. The numeral 1 has an ASCII value of 49, while the Roman numeral I (or capital i) has an ASCII value of 73…as we see in “BILL.” As you can see, numerology frequently proves some point through the use of elaborate contortions and tortured logic that would leave Ockham twitching.

It reminds me of one of Aleister Crowley’s lines from “Ascension Day” in The Sword of Song (1904), whereby one:
…by all sorts of monkey tricks
Adds up my name to Six Six Six.
[Does that make this a #MonkeyReference?] Crowley, of course, was guilty of such monkey tricks himself. The back cover of The Sword of Song transliterates his name as אלהיסטהר ה כרעולהי or ALHYSTHR H KR’VLHY. While not a bad transliteration, red flags rise with the use of the letter ayin for “o” and the presence of the middle initial “E”...which is actually from his first name, Edward; Aleister is the Gaelic form of his legal middle name, Alexander...and never mind that, except for this one book, he never signed himself Aleister E. Crowley. Granted words are often transliterated or translated into Hebrew multiple ways: for example, Google Translate suggests קראולי for “Crowley,” but that throws off the math. At least AC warns you in plain English that his is a monkey trick. One might even call it a cynocephalus stunt. ;)

And don’t even get me started on the practice of colel, an optional ±1 so that if the number you get isn’t to your liking, you can use one of its neighbors instead if that’s better. Gematria can—and has—been used as a tool for exegesis, meditation, or even just plain fun (as I’ve done throughout The Billionth Monkey). But it’s far from an exact science. As we see with the above example, it frequently gets seriously abused and needs to be taken with several grains of salt.

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