Lucia Toman


Completing the Tower of Babel: Diversity and Unity in Multilingual Spaces

In the increasingly smaller and more complicated world of today, does diversity stand as an impediment to unity? Perhaps too abstract a question to answer readily. Humanity has always been far more defined by diversity, whilst unceasingly dreaming of unity. Speaking from a linguistic and cultural point of view, is the relationship between diversity and unity among people viewed as a situation of mutual understanding, one of opposition and mutual exclusivity? By exploring this question from a theoretical standpoint, this essay analyses the symbolic meaning of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, the mythical rise of linguistic and cultural differences, in other words, the creation of the first multilingual space. In the light of Carl Jung’s theories, the mythical Tower is interpreted as an archetypal symbol of the wholeness of the Self.[1] The erection of the Tower, consisting of a union of two pairs of mutually opposite sides of its four-fold structure, symbolises the formation of the Self. As this kind of higher self-knowledge can be achieved solely through the union of opposites, the symbol of the Tower of Babel answers the initial theoretical question of this essay and posits diversity as a prerequisite for unity, not an impediment to it.

To apply the implications of this rationale to a real multilingual space, the essay then moves to the Southern Mediterranean, a region with striking cultural and linguistic differences. The essay analyses Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault contre-enquête) set in Algeria, a retelling of and a response to Camus’s The Outsider (L’Étranger). The protagonists of the two novels, Harun and Meursault respectively, are on opposite sides of a conflict epitomised by Harun’s brother’s death and the subsequent execution of Meursault. The two violent deaths are, however, only epitomes of the deaths of two cultural and ethnic identities under the weight of mutual misunderstanding and disrespect. Although Harun and Meursault live in the same country, they have different cultural backgrounds and speak different languages. Their striking differences are, however, overcome not only by countless similarities between the two, but also by Harun’s bilingualism, which is gradually able to embrace both cultures through their languages. The story highlights the importance of multilingualism in allowing us to see the world from a different perspective and understanding those whom we see as strangers, peoples or individuals of different cultural, linguistic or religious background, as well as ourselves.

A note on the use of terminology and methodology is necessary before delving into these analyses. This essay treats its questions and hypotheses on a theoretical level. It is a summary of the detected connections and parallels among several topics and theories rather than a treatise of specific sociopolitical issues, as the words ‘diversity’ and ‘unity’ in the title might suggest. I use these words in a broad meaning, but they are intended to resonate with the Jungian use of these words. This essay seeks to exteriorise the interiority of Jung’s psychology by extrapolating his theories on the development of humankind as a whole, illustrated by the Tower of Babel myth. This extrapolation results in suggesting multilingualism, in other words, the embracing of diversity in a whole new unity of a multilingual mind, as the answer to this essay’s initial question.

Pondering the millennia-old ‘dreams’ of humankind, Paul Valéry writes:


Reread Genesis. On the very threshold of the sacred book, at our first step into the first garden, we come upon the dream of Knowledge and the dream of Immortality: those beautiful fruits of the tree of life and the tree of science still entice us. A few pages further on, you will find in the same Bible the dream of a completely united humanity collaborating in the building of a prodigious tower. “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” We still dream of it.[2]


Myths of the forbidden fruit, the reason for our banishment from the Garden of Eden, and of the Tower of Babel, have followed us for ages and, in slight variations, across different cultures and religions. Little attention is needed to notice that a certain structure is shared by these myths in that both represent an intrinsic human desire for progress and achievement, as well as the inevitable catastrophic consequences of this wish. Both myths show humankind departing from an original state of unity, order and chaos instead. Although of little historical accuracy and value, these myths reveal more to us than we might think on the level of primal conceptions and understanding of human evolution.

The story of the Tower of Babel is an origin myth generally believed to explain the existence of different languages in the world. In the post-Great Flood era, humankind, united and speaking a single language, undertakes an ambitious project: ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower, with its top in the heavens; and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’[3] Therefore, God confounds their language and scatters them around the Earth. In the aftermath of the multilingual turmoil, the building project is abandoned and the city and the tower are left unfinished.

While original Jewish interpretations tend to claim that the myth simply provides an aetiology of cultural and linguistic differences in the world, later Christian tradition added the theme of competition against God. In these interpretations, humankind ends up punished for, literally and figuratively, aiming too high. As Dante describes in his essay De Vulgari Eloquentia:

Incorrigible humanity […] presumed in its heart to outdo in skill not only nature but the source of its own nature, who is God; and began to build a tower in […] Babel (that is, ‘confusion’). By this means human beings hoped to climb up to heaven, intending in their foolishness not to equal but to excel their creator.[4]


In an effort to establish a realistic historicity of the event, modern scholars, such as Stephen L. Harris, suggest that the mythical tower is identical with the Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki, of which the ruins still remain today in what is now Iraq. The sight of this unusually large ziggurat (presumably already in decay at the time of the Babylonian captivity) likely inspired the captive Hebrews to interpret it in theological context.[5] Revealing a little more from the ziggurat’s history, the recently discovered Babylonian stele from the Schoyen Collection describes the initiative undertaken by the Babylonian ruler Nabuchadnezzar II, who aimed at uniting different peoples in this ambitious building project.[6] Thus, the confounding of languages can be understood as a mythical interpretation of chaotic communication issues which likely hampered the construction.

An interesting insight into the symbolic meaning of the myth can be found in Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious.[7] In this theory, the geometrical structure of quaternity, typical of Babylonian ziggurats, is understood as an archetype of the collective unconscious and believed to symbolize wholeness of the Self.[8] The quaternity symbol, found in the four-fold structure of the ziggurat, is bound together by inner antinomies,[9] just like the structure consists of and simultaneously unites two opposite pairs of sides in a complexio oppositorum[10] — what Jung dubs ‘an indispensable prerequisite for wholeness.’[11]

Therefore, the quaternity is a three-dimensional psychological expression of the Self, which also strives for the unity of its four opposing components: the ego-consciousness, the shadow (the personal unconscious), the anima or animus (the soul-image) and the collective unconscious.[12] The totality of the Self is thus a “unity of opposites” (coincidentia oppositorum), bound together by inner antinomies, such as conscious and unconscious or light and shadow.[13] Therefore, in Jung’s own words, it is ‘bright and dark and yet neither.’[14] Symbolically, the four-fold structure of the Tower represents the unity of opposites or differences. In other words, the unity or cooperation of humankind, united linguistically in a single language and practically (working together to achieve a single objective).

Furthermore, the erection of the Tower is a symbolic expression of the ‘concretization of the individuation process’[15] or the formation of the Self. According to Jung, one is born with an innate sense of wholeness, out of which a separate consciousness (itself just a fraction of the whole psyche) gradually forms itself with the ego as its centre, fragmenting the original unity and anchoring the individual firmly in the external world.[16] Once this is achieved, another task arises: to restore the original balance between the ego-consciousness and the rest of the psyche, thus forming the Self.

In the Tower symbolism, the building process represents humankind claiming their space, thus anchoring themselves in external reality. In Jungian terms, this is the representation of the formation of ego-consciousness. Humans gain awareness of their own existence and strive to define themselves (‘let us make a name for ourselves’[17]), therefore also become aware of their individual differences materialised in the rise of different languages. The ambition to build a tower so tall that its top would reach heaven symbolises the desire to connect to a higher source – to reach the Self in the unity of opposites. But the project is abandoned and the tower remains unfinished – the Self is yet to be reached.

The story of the Tower of Babel is a story of the evolution of human consciousness. It describes the end of the original unity, subsiding in favour of self-identification and the rise of linguistic and cultural differences. The Tower is a symbolic expression of the unity of humankind, which is the origin of and the prerequisite for the formation of ego-consciousness, achieved in the process of building. The formation of the ego-consciousness implies the realisation of individual differences, hence the biblical confounding of languages, which is interpreted as the rise of linguistic differences among humankind and the formation of cultural and ethnic identities. The original unity of humankind is thus fragmented and diversified, a sacrifice made in exchange for the new-found consciousness. The original ambition to finish the tower is left off, perhaps to be achieved in another era, when the higher Self is ready to be reached and the lost unity regained.

Unity and diversity thus seem to rest on the plates of balance scales, each on one side of the fulcrum. Although opposites, they presuppose each other. The rise of individual (and cultural) identities was presupposed by the original state of unity, to which the return is, again, presupposed by the existence of differences as the quaternity symbol demonstrates. It would certainly be unreasonable to consider the “post-Babel” state a negative consequence or, in line with later Christian interpretations, a punishment. The world after the Tower of Babel is a world of misunderstanding, but also a world of diversity, which, if approached wisely, can engender mutual enrichment and cooperation.

The significance of the myth of the Tower of Babel lies in its symbolic interpretation of problem humankind has never ceased to deal with. The consequences of the biblical confounding of languages are not only still alive, but largely define the world which has never called for cooperation and mutual understanding more so than today. Undoubtedly, it is no easy task for humankind to achieve this higher level of understanding and, with it, greater unity in the face of our differences. Nevertheless, it is an effort well invested as this has historically led to enrichment and great advantages for all participating sides.

There are plenty of examples of multilingual geographical (or artificial) spaces efficiently united through various linguistic policies: the nascent US achieving a solid monoglottism incommensurable with the nascent EU, the complicated linguistic wealth of India[18] or Papua New Guinea.[19] The focus of the current essay is, however, on the Southern part of the Mediterranean. The entire Mediterranean Sea, with the diverse regions around its coasts, is a perfect example of a historically, extremely multilingual and multicultural space. The Southern part of the Mediterranean presents an interesting interaction between radically different cultures and religions, but also between languages belonging to different language families.

To explore the questions of language or the absence thereof, of unity and disunity, and various struggles of life in a multilingual space, let us take as an example the much-acclaimed novel The Meursault Investigation by the Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud. This novel draws on, arguably, the most famous novel of the colonial Algeria, The Outsider by Albert Camus.

The Meursault Investigation gives voice to Harun, the brother of the nameless Arab murdered by Meursault in Camus’s novel. Decades after the pointless murder, the embittered Harun tells his story to an interlocutor in a bar. Early in the story, we learn that the unnamed Arab’s name was Musa and that the world, dazzled by Meursault’s remarkable narration, ended up glorifying the wrong martyr and reducing Musa’s existence into a narrative feature.


It was Musa, not Meursault, see? There’s something I find stunning, and it’s that […] nobody at all ever tried to find out what the victim’s name was […]. Everyone was knocked out by the perfect prose, by language capable of giving air facets like diamonds, and everyone declared their empathy with the murderer’s solitude and offered him their most learned condolences.[20]


Harun’s narrative, asking new questions while answering old ones, begins with a clear objective – to give a name and a voice to a dead brother deprived of both. Harun and Musa are, after all, the Koran version of Aaron and Moses from the Hebrew Bible,[21] brothers of whom the former acted as a spokesperson to the latter. But Harun’s story gradually develops and tackles issues and questions about injustice committed on both personal and national level, and its far-reaching consequences. The novel opens a plethora of topics and the fine nuances and links between them. As the politologist Jeffrey Isaac writes in his review of Daoud’s novel, the novel ‘tells a story within a story about a story.’[22]

The beginning of the narrative places Harun and Meursault in mutually antagonistic positions, Harun as a postcolonial avenger, and Meursault as an irrational offender against a country that is not his. However, curiously, as the narrative progresses, Harun uncovers plenty of details from his life that are oddly reminiscent of Meursault’s – his detached and taciturn relationship with his mother, his alienated existence and the countless days spent on the balcony of his flat in Oran. Harun eventually rejects and dismisses both social norms and religion as empty myths and becomes estranged from his social entourage. His speech is, at times, terse like Meursault’s. He even has his version of Marie – a young Arab woman called Meriem, who is also interested in his brother Musa’s case. Harun and Meursault start resembling each other increasingly up to the point of almost blending together, not only in Harun’s narrative, which bears striking similarities to Meursault’s, but also in their attitude to life and the absurdity of their situation.

The “blending” of Harun and Meursault culminates when Harun shoots a Frenchman in a fit of rage and is subsequently judged by an officer in the Army for National Liberation, absurdly, not for killing a man, but for killing a Frenchman after the declaration of Independence and for the lack of fidelity to the Revolution. Starting out as antagonists, Harun and Meursault eventually turn into something like “brothers in enmity” until it becomes almost impossible to distinguish one from the other in the deluge of striking similarities.

Clearly, one of the attributes which set Harun and Meursault strikingly apart is ethnicity. Harun repeatedly calls Meursault “a Frenchman”, underlining his strangeness in the country of his birth. But there is a solid backing in The Outsider to believe that Meursault was not a Frenchman but, like his author Camus, a Pied-Noir – an Algerian-born individual of European origin. While the Pied-Noirs were predominantly French speakers (the official language of Algeria under French rule being French), they were not necessarily of purely French origin. The Pied-Noir settlers arrived from all over the Western Mediterranean, including France, Spain, Italy and Malta. Camus himself had Spanish ancestry on his mother’s side, and his family had lived in Algeria for generations before his birth. The ethnic situation was thus precarious for Pied-Noirs, enough to make them true outsiders in their own country. Being neither indigenous inhabitants of Algeria, nor Europeans by birth, they found themselves at a complicated crossroads of ethnicities and nationalities.

Yet, a similar problem arises on the other side of the imaginary equation. It is equally ignorant to label the indigenous inhabitants of Algeria the ambiguous umbrella term “Arabs”, obfuscating and even effacing all the differences and nuances of Algeria’s fascinating ethnography[23] – the result of many centuries of ample migration and influence of the numerous nationalities and tribes sharing the same space. In the novel, Harun asks his interlocutor: ‘Tell me, is that a nationality, “Arab”? And where’s this country everybody claims to carry in their hearts, in their vitals, but which doesn’t exist anywhere?’[24]

Earlier in the story, Harun explains that ‘Arab-ness is like Negro-ness, which only exists in the white man’s eyes.’[25] It is through the ‘white man’s’ eyes that ‘Arab-ness’ becomes a dangerous tool for effacing the richness of cultural identities which hide behind this vague term. Denying someone their name equals to stripping them of their identity, all the while reducing them to an object of someone else’s glance, therefore de-humanising them and leaving them paralysed in their forced muteness. As Daoud explains:

Ever since the Middle Ages, the white man has the habit of naming Africa and Asia’s mountains and insects, all the while denying the names of the human beings they encounter. By removing their names, they render banal murder and crimes. By claiming your own name, you are also making a claim of your humanity and thus the right to justice.[26]

Daoud’s words resonate markedly with Edward Said’s statement that Meursault’s pointless shooting of the nameless and mute Arab epitomises Algeria’s coloniality and more generally, the “Western” glance at the “non-Western” world.[27] Thus, by stripping Musa (and with him, the entire indigenous population of Algeria) of name and voice, his identity was reduced to a mute inanimate object used only for the development of a novel’s plot: ‘And so my brother had to be seen through your hero’s eyes in order to become “an Arab” and consequently die.’[28]

Thus, we are left with two sides of an equation which strives to represent the ethno-demographics of Algeria: one side represents “the Frenchmen”, the other “the Arabs”, yet none of these sides is correct or sufficiently exhaustive. Gradually, we come to understand that the conflict hangs not only between Harun and Meursault, but between “Arabs” and “Frenchmen” sharing the same Algeria and striving to become Algerians while remaining Kabyle Berbers or Pied-Noirs, but, most importantly, human beings in the eyes of the other.

What is special about The Meursault Investigation, by virtue of being a retelling of an older story, is that it tells the story from the other perspective, the stranger’s perspective. In this case, one that had been deprived of voice and whose language had been silenced for a long time. But retelling events from the other perspective may position the narrator of the retold story into the role of the stranger. In a shared geographical space marked by enmity, unless precautions are taken, each pretender is bound to become a stranger in the other’s eyes, their uniqueness wiped out as they are reduced linguistically in the other’s consciousness. The Meursault Investigation is written with the awareness of this fact, to which it masterfully draws readers’ attention.

In the light of the questions tackled in the novel, an interesting juxtaposition can be drawn between Daoud and Camus. Despite different ethnic backgrounds, they ultimately have more in common than it might seem. Both are part of the remarkably diverse, rich and centuries-old Algerian literature, together with authors like Assia Djebar, Kateb Yacine, Jacques Derrida, all the way back to Augustine of Hippo. These are or were all people of diverse cultural heritage and the Algeria of each of them was probably slightly different, but they all left their footprints on the literary landscape of the same country.

Daoud is known to admit the great influence Camus’s writing had over him during his youth and called his novel ‘a dialogue with Camus.’[29] Indeed, the influence of Camus is more than palpable in Daoud’s writing. The narrative structure and setting are reminiscent of Camus’s novel The Fall, in which the highly unreliable narrator Jean-Baptiste Clamence tells the story of his life to an unnamed interlocutor. Harun, like Clamence, creates doubt about the veracity of his narrative when, at the end of his story, he calls himself ‘a compulsive liar’.[30] Moreover, Harun’s decision to not join the revolutionary forces, whilst not collaborating with the colonists either is strongly evocative of Camus’s Neither Victims Nor Executioners (Ni Victimes, Ni Bourreaux).

Apart from being a story about various kinds of loss, The Meursault Investigation is also a parable about the importance of language in self-identification in the eyes of others. Language is an essential tool of self-identifying but also of domination, and a means of exercising power over another. The effacement of another’s language and its replacement rewrites, literally and figuratively, and oftentimes completely effaces their identity.

On top of the danger of obliterating identities, there are also practical consequences of language loss. As the linguist Andrew Dalby suggests, language loss does not only curtail the amazing linguistic variety, ‘the rich library of possibilities (in sounds, word forms and syntax) whose existence we might not even guess if there were fewer languages to exemplify them.’[31] He goes on to cite an even more pragmatic and survival-crucial reason to prevent this from happening: ‘Ethnobiologists, by contrast, know that when cultures disappear – as peoples are assimilated or exterminated – knowledge of the natural world disappears with them. This knowledge may be important to our survival[.]’[32]

Arguably, the clearest and most accomplished statement of what losing a language really entails has been formulated by the linguist Marianne Mithun: ‘The loss of a language represents a definitive separation of a people from its heritage. It also represents an irreparable loss for us all, the loss of opportunities to glimpse alternative ways of making sense of the human experience.’[33]

In the light of these statements, it becomes clear that when languages go extinct in favour of more international or dominant ones, everybody loses. The opportunity for mutual enrichment and the preservation of precious knowledge not only of the biological environment, but of the human experience of the world and life is wasted. How much a language is ingrained in human existence, and human existence in language, is expressed in The Meursault Investigation in Harun’s words: ‘You drink a language, you speak a language, and one day it owns you; and from then on, it falls into the habit of grasping things in your place, it takes over your mouth like a lover’s voracious kiss.’[34]

It is in the process of becoming bilingual, as Harun sets on learning French, that he starts uncovering more similarities than differences between himself and Meursault and between the indigenous Algerians and the Pied-Noirs. As his mind becomes both arabophone and francophone, he begins to understand both cultures better, to see each through the lenses of the other and “translate” the words of each culture into the language of the other. A perfect blending of both languages and two linguistically different ways of living and thinking are observable when Harun shows his ability of critical view of both languages and ways of expression. He complains about his mother’s ability to devise a thousand and one stories about what really happened. While some of his French sentences are, much like Meursault’s, short and matter-of-factly in expression, the story he tells in the end is both factual and metaphorical, telling events as they happened while sketching out countless possibilities and consequences. Harun, perhaps mirroring his author’s own bilingual mind, remains loyal to both languages and draws the best out of both in a single whole.

Resonating with this point is the following passage from Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess, also set in the Southern Mediterranean, specifically in Malta. The passage shows the protagonist, an English author and playwright residing in Malta in discussion with his North African Muslim valet Ali. The discussion, which takes place in Spanish, bears upon the linguistic and religious differences and parallels between Ali’s religion and language and the Maltese language, which, belonging to the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, bears many unexpected similarities with Moroccan Arabic. Ali’s confusion is perfectly summarized in his sentence: ‘Este país […] es católico, pero se dice Allah.’ (This country is Catholic, but they say Allah).[35] The amusing but nevertheless interesting account of the discussion reveals that Ali is more taken aback by finding similarities where he expected differences:

Their word for God is evidently the same as yours, but it means the Christian version of the Almighty, not the Muslim one.” […] He said excitedly that there was no God but Allah, but Allah was not worshipped in churches, only in mosques […] But these Maltese Christians said, just like Muslims, that there was no God but Allah.[36]

How does it all relate to the Tower of Babel and the idea of wholeness through opposites, of unity through diversity? What is the answer to the question arising from the juxtaposition of Camus’s and Daoud’s novels and how does it answer the conundrum of the still unfinished Tower of Babel? The Jungian interpretation of the Tower of Babel myth proves that diversity does not stand as an impediment to unity. On the contrary, it is an indispensable prerequisite. According to the Tower symbolism, the Babylonian ziggurat’s ground plan as well as its geometrical structure are four-fold. The principle of uniting two pairs of mutually opposite sides in the Tower’s construction represents quaternity – an archetype symbolizing wholeness of the Self, achieved through its inner antinomies. Extrapolating from Jung’s individuation theory to the whole of humanity, as demonstrated on the Jungian interpretation of the myth of the Tower of Babel, the great cultural and linguistic diversity of humankind can thus be understood as the basis for creating unity.

As explained in the introduction, the construction of the Tower can be understood as a process of gaining ego-consciousness. Jung maintained that human beings are born with an innate sense of wholeness, out of which ego-consciousness crystallises progressively. Thanks to the development of consciousness, humans become aware of their own existence and identity and they become firmly anchored in the external reality. The formation of the ego-consciousness fragments the previously held sense of wholeness. It is a question of further development to reconstruct the original wholeness via connecting to the remaining parts of the psyche, including the unconscious. It is through this process that the Self is achieved.

Again, according to the Tower symbolism, reaching the Tower’s top can be interpreted as connecting ego-consciousness with the remainder of the psyche to discover the Self. But the top is never reached as the project is abandoned as a result of the sudden linguistic chaos. In Jungian sense, this can be explained as the rise of linguistic differences and the formation of ethnic, cultural and linguistic identities. As these differences fail to be bridged by mutual understanding and respect for these identities, they result in a destructive chaos rather than in unity. The Self does not seem ready to be reached yet.

These conclusions were examined through Kamel Daoud’s novel The Meursault Investigation juxtaposed to its counterpart and precursor The Outsider by Albert Camus, both novels set in the highly multicultural and multilingual pre-Independence Algeria. By setting the two perspectives – not only of the events around Musa’s death, but also of Algerian colonialism and the role of language – in opposition and, finally, by almost blending them together, the protagonist Harun finds the answer to the Tower of Babel conundrum in his own bilingual mind.

Because human experience is so firmly ingrained in language, only a multilingual mind – one that is open to the cultural and linguistic differences of human experience and willing to embrace them – can possess the key to understanding another by seeing the world from their perspective, gaining the unique ability to also see oneself through another’s eyes. In this way, the stranger ceases to be a stranger, forced muteness is replaced by understanding and unity is accomplished through diversity.


Alighieri, Dante, De Vulgari Eloquentia, ed. and trans. by Steven Botterill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 

Burgess, Anthony, Earthly Powers (London: Hutchinson, 1980) 

Camus, Albert, La Chute (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1956) 

Camus, Albert, The Outsider, trans. by Sandra Smith (London: Penguin Books, 2012) 

Camus, Albert, ‘L’Étranger’ in Œuvres Complètes (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006), pp. 141-213 

Camus, Albert, Neither Victims Nor Executioners, trans. by Dwight MacDonald (New York: Liberation, 1960) 

Dalby, Andrew, Language in Danger: How Language Loss Threatens Our Future (London: Penguin Press, 2014) 

Daoud, Kamel, The Meursault Investigation, trans. by John Cullen (London: Oneworld, 2015) 

Daoud, Kamel interviewed by Robert Zaretsky, ‘Insolence, Exile and the Kingdom’ at Los Angeles Review of Books <!> [Accessed 13th November 2017] 

Daoud, Kamel interviewed by Doreen Carvajal, ‘An Algerian Author Fights Back Against a Fatwa’ in The New York Times (4 January 2015) <> [Accessed 12th November 2017] 

Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.) ‘Papua New Guinea’ in Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 22nd edn, (Dallas: SIL International, 2019) <> [Accessed October 31, 2018]

Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible, 6th edn. (New York: McGraw Hill Education, 2002) 

Isaac, Jeffrey C., ‘Camus on Trial’ in Dissent, Vol. 63, Nr. 1 (2016), pp. 145-150 

Jung, Carl Gustav, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, trans. by R. F. C. Hull, ed. by Sir Herbert Read, Michael Fordham and Gerhard Adler, 2nd edn. (London: Routledge, 1991) 

Jung, Carl Gustav, Aion: Researches of the Phenomenology of the Self, trans. by R. F. C. Hull (New York: Pantheon Books, 1959) 

Jung, Carl Gustav, Man and his Symbols, ed. by Carl G. Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz (New York: Anchor Press, 1964) 

Jung, Carl Gustav, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, ed. by Aniela Jaffé, trans. by Richard and Clara Winston, rev. edn. (New York: Random House, 1989) 

Jung, Carl Gustav, Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. by R. F. C. Hull (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963) 

Mithun, Marianne, The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 

Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, ‘Census of India: Language’ (2011) <> [Accessed October 31, 2018]

Roseau, Katherine, ‘The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (Review)’ in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 34, Nr. 3 (2016), pp. 117-119 

Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism (New York: Random House, 1994) 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crosway, Good News Publishers, 2001) Kindle Edition 

The Schoyen Collection, Babylonian History, MS 2063, Available from: <> [Accessed 31st October 2018] 

UNESCO, Bureau pour le Maghreb, Secteur Culture, ‘Diversité et Interculturalité en Algérie’ (2009) in Wayback Machine Internet Archive <> [Accessed 14th November 2017]

Valéry, Paul, ‘The European’ in The Collected Works of Paul Valéry: History and Politics, trans. by D. Folliot and J. Matthews (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971), pp. 307-323 

[1] Carl Gustav Jung, Aion: Researches of the Phenomenology of the Self, trans. by R. F. C. Hull (New York: Pantheon Books, 1959), p. 224. Jung cites quaternity as one of the geometrical expressions of wholeness. As this article aims to explain, the geometrical structure of ancient Babylonian ziggurats is that of quaternity. The article then interprets the biblical story of the Tower of Babel in the context of Jung’s theory of individuation and of the collective unconscious.

[2] Paul Valéry, ‘The European’ in The Collected Works of Paul Valéry: History and Politics, trans. by D. Folliot and J. Matthews (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971), pp. 307-323, p. 310.

[3] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crosway, Good News Publishers, 2001) Kindle Edition.

Genesis, 11.4.

[4] Dante Alighieri, De Vulgari Eloquentia, ed. and trans. by Steven Botterill (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996), p. 15.

[5] Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible, 6th edn. (New York: McGraw Hill Education, 2002), pp. 50-51.

[6] The carved text of the stele, transcribed and translated to English, is available on the Schoyen Collection website. ‘Tower of Babel Stele’ at The Schoyen Collection, Babylonian History, MS 2063 <> [Accessed 31st October 2018].

[7] The collective unconscious, a term coined by Jung, is a form of unconscious shared by a breadth of human cultures due to its evolutionary basis and originating in the inherited structure of the brain. This is distinct from the personal unconscious, which arises from the experience of the individual. ‘Collective unconscious’ at Encyclopedia Britannica <> [Accessed 31st October 2018].

[8] Aion, p. 224.

[9] Idem, p. 42.

[10] Idem, p. 159.

[11] Idem, p. 31.

[12] Carl Gustav Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. by R. F. C. Hull (London: Routledge, 1963), p. 108.

[13] Aion, p. 42.

[14]Mysterium, p. 108.

[15] Carl Gustav Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, ed. by Aniela Jaffé, trans. by Richard and Clara Winston, rev. edn. (New York: Random House, 1989), p. 225.

[16] Archetypes, p. 281.

[17] Genesis, 11.4.

[18] According to the Census of India report referenced below, the raw total of reported mother tongues was 19,569. After linguistic scrutiny and rationalization, the number of classified languages with more than 10,000 speakers amounted to 121. These languages belong to five distinct language families. ‘Census of India: Language’ in Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India (2011) <> [Accessed October 31, 2018].

[19] The number of individual languages listed for Papua New Guinea is 851, of which 11 are now extinct and 43 dying. David M. Eberhard, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.) ‘Papua New Guinea’ in Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 22nd edn, (Dallas: SIL International, 2019) <> [Accessed October 31, 2018].

[20] Kamel Daoud, The Meursault Investigation, trans. by John Cullen (London: Oneworld, 2015), p. 4.

[21] Katherine Roseau, ‘The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (Review)’ in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 34, Nr. 3 (2016), pp. 117-119, p. 118.

[22] Jeffrey C. Isaac, ’Camus on Trial’ in Dissent, Vol. 63, Nr. 1 (2016), pp. 145-150, p. 146.

[23] The umbrella term “Arab-ness” blurs out the numerous ethnic groups of Algeria: the Berber groups, the indigenous Jewish inhabitants, the descendants of Andalusian refugees or of Ottoman settlers, not to mention the ethnically rich ancient history of Algeria.

‘Diversité et Interculturalité en Algérie’ in Bureau de l’UNESCO pour le Maghreb, Secteur Culture (2009) in Wayback Machine Internet Archive <> [Accessed 14th November 2017].

[24] Investigation, p. 138.

[25] Idem, p. 60. Emphasis my own.

[26] Kamel Daoud, interviewed by Robert Zaretsky, ’Insolence, Exile and the Kingdom’ at Los Angeles Review of Books <!> [Accessed 13th November 2017].

[27] Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Random House, 1994), pp. 173-184.

[28] Investigation, p. 61.

[29] Kamel Daoud, interviewed by Doreen Carvajal, ‘An Algerian Author Fights Back Against a Fatwa’ in The New York Times (4 January 2015) <> [Accessed 12th November 2017].

[30] Investigation, p. 143.

[31] Andrew Dalby, Language in Danger: How Language Loss Threatens Our Future (London: Penguin Press, 2014), p. 12.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Marianne Mithun, The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999), p. 2.

[34] Investigation, p. 7.

[35] Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers (London: Hutchinson, 1980), p. 11.

[36] Idem, pp. 11-13.