Naos, & other stuff

Tanaqui tweaver at
Tue Jul 4 23:14:56 EDT 2000


Sorry if I gave the fundies the idea of banning _Black Maria_,
but I'm sure your mention of _Animal Farm_ and how it gave you
insight into power-politics will put it on the List...
I was kinda hoping for the full-on coronaries I mentioned.

[Abukir Bay discoveries] 
+ Its terrific, some amazing stuff down there. Explain about the Naos 
+ fragments please.

The story of the Naos of the Decans begins in Saft. It was a nasty black
shrine full of hieroglyphic inscriptions, which the Christians felt obliged 
to shatter, scattering its fragments. It depicted the 36 decads of a year 
(OK, OK, a week or so (our time)'s twiddling required): 10-day periods defined
by the appearance/disappearance of stars and constellations. (The decans were 
used to count the night hours too) Since it was created before the separation 
of astronomy from astrology, it describes the characters of the Decans. The 
effect of each division on animal behaviours and human communities is defined. 

Mary Gentle uses the star-rulers to great and terrible effect in her Scholar-
Soldier stories (primarily _Rats and Gargoyles_). 

Our knowledge is, alas, fragmented since not all of the bits of the naos have 
been found. There's a lovely pyramidal bit, found near Abukir by de Manoncourt,
which is now in the Louvre. Since we are pretty sure of the astronomical data, 
there are commentaries on the naos which extrapolate from the available 
inscriptions. Now we have two more bits <bounce, bounce>. 

My two bits on the money issue: like University education, it's a matter of
abstraction. I hold a couple of English degrees, which puts me in line for
flak of the kind "We can all speak English... what exactly did you *do*,
slacker?". Well... that's my cue to tell people what the Structuralists think 
|-) Seriously, I had to read at least as deeply in the critical fields as in
primary texts, in order to engage with my distinguished antecedants... 
sometimes very tricky, as a modern symbolic analysis of their arguments often
showed that the coat-tail creatives had said precisely nothing. I attempt to
be lucid in my writing, rather than creating a magnificent lapidary monument
of impenetrable elephant-tusk thesis-speak (I'm talking ivory towers, here).
Anyone can pick up a book and start in on the corpus of EngLit, after all.

It struck me whilst I was an undergraduate that the essence of the the worst
criticisms we were encouraged to read was abstraction away from the text and 
into the mind of the critic who wouldn't acknowledge this. I was much happier
reading upfront individualists (_Seven Types of Ambiguity_ etc.) than those
with an agenda (feminists, Marxists, and - yes- Structuralists), who claimed
they had found the true mental map. 

Money is an exercise in this sort of abstraction. You start with physical
objects of inherent value (barter economy) or a direct exchange of labour
for food, work up through a currency backed by e.g. gold, and possibly move
into the realms of unbacked currency - those these rely on the consensus
of value holding reasonably steady. The notions of inherent value, and 
spending power, rely on a stable social aspect. Paper money, or gold, are
not much good if food is the critical unit for mere survival, and it's in
short supply.

I agree with Ven that social progress is ongoing, and that the state is
not the end of the process. It is fairly easy to start a Top Ten "ills of
society" list - and almost impossible to stop.


"Believe people who are seeking the truth,
 but doubt those who claim to have found it"          Andre Gide 
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