The sad part of this story is that neither ISIS nor anyone in the West really understands the importance of Gilgamesh. I ruminate about this extensively in my upcoming book, Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare. As I say in conclusion:
“The Epic of Gilgamesh is about what it means to be human. In the original Sumerian version, laid down before Babylonian times, the king finds Utanapishti and receives not just the story of the flood but also long-lost information on practices and rituals that had fallen out of use after the deluge. Gilgamesh returns to Uruk to restore the old ways and be more civilized, which means, amongst other things, ruling wisely and caring for a human community. A hero who at the beginning of the Epic is clearly closer to the gods than to ordinary mortals, a bumbling superpower labeled a “wild bull on the rampage,” grows and learns that he is not all-powerful or all-knowing, that he will not live forever. He is a man, after all, even if he is divine. Beginning and ending with stanzas that emphasize the magnificence of the walls of Uruk, the whole narrative exudes the message that what man leaves behind is his only hope for immortality.”
Gilgamesh is also a crucial black box on American drones. One of those magic devices that has convinced us that what we are doing in the war on terrorism is logical and precise. We are all-seeing; they are all-seeing. No wonder we are in an era of perpetual warfare.
Click here to pre-order your copy.