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Re: <nettime> Book of the Undead
Newmedia on Wed, 12 Jan 2000 21:16:05 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Book of the Undead



MacKensie:

The point you might wish to ponder -- regarding old Egypt -- is that there
is actually *no* continuity with these folks at all.  None.  Because
"they" weren't conscious.  Thus, they had no "art."  Despite what the
Metropolitan Museum's ads may imply. 

>From the "discovery" that the Hermetic corpus isn't really ancient or
even Egyptian, to the debate over Bernal's "Black Athena" (revealing that
Herodotus is more amusing fiction than reliable history) to the goofy
history of Freemasonry, the line connecting us to the "Egyptians" is a
remarkably short one. 

Julian Jaynes' "Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral
Mind" might be helpful to get a grip on all this. 

I hope that you had a chance, while touring the Met, to climb the knoll
behind the musuem to see "Cleopatra's Needle", the obelisk installed in
Central Park in 1887 by Cornelius Vanderbuilt.  It's a must for all
"psychic-tourists" here in town.  (You might also hike up to 91st and 5th
to see the memorial to W.T. Stead, if you're really adventurous!) 

This "installation" is a good indication of what you are really dealing
with.
 Just like the "grotto" at the Rockefeller estate, or the "Bohemian
Grove", these "occult" signposts aren't "Egyptian" at all but much more
modern and much more directly associated with high-level capitalist power
then, perhaps, our current "hermeticists" care to admit. 

I also draw your attention to Jonathan Cott's "Isis and Osiris: Exploring
the Goddess Myth" (Doubleday, 1994), as long as you are in bookish-mode. 
You might want to take it with you when you return to the Temple of
Dendur.  Cott leads us on a very interesting journey, including interviews
with some of the Met's "Egyptian" veterans (i.e. Robert Bianchi and James
P. Allen) but I was particularly taken by his opening credits. 

"I am inestimably grateful to my editor, Jacqueline Onassis, for guiding
me through the realms of Isis and Osiris . . ." 

These are the true "Egyptians" . . . Jackie, and Ari and their pals.  And,
don't forget the Bush's and their friends who reportedly passed the
millennial "ceremony" in the shadow of the pyramids.  In good "Skull and
Bones" fashion. 

Indeed, the only way that we can understand the "Book of the Dead" --
whether in its "Egyptian" or its "Tibetan" forms -- is a guide-book for
the "un-dead" . . . i.e. for the living who wish to use this material for
their "trips"  through psychic death and re-birth.  For the daily
"initiation" they must all endure. 

Glad you're enjoying New York! 

Best,

Mark Stahlman


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