User maat Re, Setep en Re

The title of this post is the throne name of Ramses II, variously known as Ramses the Great, Ozymandius, and the ‘Great Ancestor’.  He was one of the most powerful and well-known pharaohs to ever have lived, both today and during his own time.  The throne name itself is cited by Wikipedia as meaning “The justice of Re is powerful, chosen of Re”, but there’s something a little funky in the translation there.  I couldn’t find a better on online, but I think it’s closer to ‘Ra’s powerful law (as in the strong arm of the law), beloved of Ra’.

So why is this mummy man still important?  Well, there is his undeniable on our own culture.  There’s Shelley’s poem.  There’s the fact that this may or may not have been the Pharaoh of Exodus.  There’s his deliberate defacement of the monuments and records of the Amarna period, when women ruled as king (Hatshepsut) and monotheism threatened to dominate the country (Akhenaten and Nefertiti).  He’s the one who built a large number of the monuments that characterize our knowledge of his own day, as well as the chronologies and events of Ancient Egypt.  He re-expended the boundaries of Egypt in a number of decisive battles, and may or may not have won against the Hittites.  Even today, we are uncovering remains of what he built.

While I have no personal desire to be a pharaoh myself, or to burden the future with my own skewed version of the past, or to get upwards of a hundred children, still there is something appealing about the man.  Perhaps only as a product of his culture, he was ruthless.  But also as a product of that culture, he was a patron.  He built more buildings in Egypt (temples, palaces, monuments) than any other pharaoh.  In the sheer length of his life (he lived to be about 90), he was a living legend – Egyptians, almost all of which had been born during his reign, thought the world would end without him.  I wish my life could also inspire that sense of living magic, that monumental outpouring of culture.

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Today sucks

Typically I get into work, sit down, and take about an hour or two to get settled and into the swing of things.  Then I start blogging away to occupy my time, meaning I usually have a post by 9:45 or 10:30 at the latest.  Today, I am writing this at 11:55 am, which means it’s the first day of one of the busiest weeks of my year.  It’s going t be generally disagreeable here until about next Thursday, when I can quit worrying about other people not doing their jobs, and get back to the business of having nothing much to do.  For most people, having to work until noon but getting paid for work until 5 would not be a bad thing.  For me, it’s not really a bad thing either.  I enjoy occasionally having things that need to get done.  What I hate is that I go from trying to occupy my time with something, a dull 2% on the stress meter, all the way up to a 95-96% on days like this.  Everything was supposed to be done yesterday, and I’m helping 20 people on 50 tasks that they are all freaking out about.  Admin. Assists. should not get ulcers!  No that I have one.  Yet.

The world seems to agree with me.  Headlines range across major accidents (train crash in China, wildfire engulfing a wedding party, earthquakes in Mexico) to pure human wretchedness (a man locking up his daughter and fathering children on her, a student beating another student to critical condition).  Life today, as well as every day in our mixed-up and confusing lives, is full of strife.  I listened to a provocative hotel recording about five times this morning, greeting me with a sexy “well, hello there”, and guaranteeing me whatever I want, whenever I want it, and assuring me that a hotel representative would be with me shortly to ‘provide for your every desire’.  It was creepy.  And how did we get to this state?

We may look back at the past and want to say it was better then.  Look at the 50s – all that boom of an economy, people first learning how to buy lots of household stuff, appliances made to last.  But then you have to take into account the rampant prejudices that led to the revolts of the 60s, and the stultifying conformism of the times.  Then what about something earlier, the time of the Revolution and the birth of our country?  It was a time of war and privation, yes, but also of fighting for a just cause.  But truly, should ‘our’ rights have prevailed?  Were not all Europeans invaders?  Well then, what about a more primitive time, the agriculture or hunter-gatherer lifestyles of the Native Americans?  Was that not a better time?  Shorter lifespans, less nutrition, more infant mortality – I suppose you could say it was better.  I would rather say that we have a nostalgic longing for the past, as if it were childhood.

When I was growing up, there was a show on Nickelodeon called “Today’s Special”.  The meanings of the phrase could be various, and currently I’m perplexed as to what it had to do with the show itself.  The show was live action and puppets, involving a mannequin (male) that turned alive at night and interacted with the night watchman and other people in the store when it was closed.  Was the ‘special’ a sale on goods at the store the next day?  Was it a product only carried for a limited time?  Was it some new clothing item the mannequin always wore in order to promote it?  When i was a child, there was no such doubt in my mind.  ‘Today’ was not possessive – it was part of a contraction.  It was obvious – I knew today is special.