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Time for time

Well, I'm finally back to writing! After the move from Ottawa to Montreal, I first became a bit stuck in the process of adapting to a new routine, and then stuck in a bit of research into the Egyptian experience of time. The run of the issue is that, contra Augustine and traditional interpretations of pagan societies, the ancient Egyptians did not perceive time to be a circle corresponding to a seemingly circular rhythm of nature. Their very language and the ritual enactments of the cosmological myths as much as indicate that they perceived time, on its own, to be chaotic and profane.

The rituals of the empire were put together for the purpose of making or at least keeping time circular. They did not think it to be circular in and of itself. Though neheh -- "the eternal recurrence of the same" -- was identified with the cycle of the Sun-god, and through it, with the cycle of becoming and renewal, it was not sensed to be self-perpetuating. The Sun-god faced obstacles on his course through the underworld. He could fail to rise in the morning, and his disappearance would represent the end of neheh. This is the meaning behind such rituals as the excoriation of the demon Apophis, who attacked the Sun-bark every night, and who threatened to drink-up the primeval waters, thus causing the bark to run aground and wreck.

Time was thus in constant danger of coming to an end.

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February 2018
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