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Pyramid Texts

Pyramid Texts

Gamal al-Ghitani
Translated by Humphrey Davies
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15m7h84
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  • Book Info
    Pyramid Texts
    Book Description:

    With its Sufistic parables of the human condition, rendered in a style redolent of both the austere meditations of Borges and the dark engorged ruminations of Arthur C. Clark, Pyramid Texts engages the mind and beguiles the imagination. In a series of chapters each shorter than the last—so that, like their subjects, they taper ultimately into nothingness—the author evokes the obsessions that have drawn men over the centuries to the brooding presence of mankind’s most ancient and mysterious monuments. Among others in a procession of exotic characters, a Moroccan seeker after knowledge spends years contemplating the pyramids in the hope that one day he will understand the mysterious writing that fitfully appears on their sides. Another waits patiently for the moment when the shadow of one will diverge from its accustomed path and bestow immortality, and the Sphinx performs a celestial dance. Pyramid Texts leads us into a world of endless passages and mysterious sighing winds, a world whose claustrophobic and shadowy spaces may be illuminated by flashes of ecstasy leading to scintillating transfigurations and dizzying annihilations.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-148-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. A First Text Anticipation
    (pp. 1-26)

    When the boy first came to know him, the man was still at the beginning of his quest, though the boy only became fully informed as to his story once it was over. Between the beginning and the end long years elapsed, years that continue to echo and stretch ahead, like the man’s presence, even though he ceased to be there beyond a shadow of a doubt from that moment at which it became no longer possible to meet with him and talk to him.

    In spite of this, he is certain that the man is there, that he can...

  3. A Second Text Entry
    (pp. 27-54)

    … and in this year everyone talked too of the affair of the young men and the Great Pyramid. It was said that they were seven and known for their closeness, the convergence of their passions, and their habit of accompanying one another wherever they went and of embarking on all their undertakings together.

    Often were they seen together, whether in the pigeon market or the candle makers’ market, the street of perfumes or that of the coppersmiths, the tentmakers’ district or that of the sword makers, the Muqattam or the Barrages, the coffeehouses of the countryside or those of...

  4. A Third Text Annihilation
    (pp. 55-70)

    … Of an old family, much noted, mentioned in manuscripts that have yet to be printed. He personally was well known, much in demand in the town and elsewhere.

    Those with experience in climbing its four corners assert that his extraordinary gifts were obvious. His steps over the stones had a distinct rhythm and, despite his forefathers’ long history, he brought to the climb something that no one before him had, for no one before him had ever reached the summit by night.

    And when? On dark nights when there was no moon at all and the stars were extinguished!...

  5. A Fourth Text Realization
    (pp. 71-78)

    Al-Nasiri Muhammad Ahmad ibn Iyas the Hanafite, of Egypt, addressed me and said:

    After the coming of the Caliph Ma’mun to Egypt and his suppression of the unrest, he became greatly preoccupied with the matter of the pyramids, so much so that he had his tent pitched close by and would gaze on them much, observing their towering height and contemplating the writings in “bird script” that were inscribed upon them; and many times he made a circuit around them, either riding and surrounded by his guards, or on foot and alone, staring at the stones, pondering their secrets, wondering...

  6. A Fifth Text Ecstasy
    (pp. 79-88)

    Because she spoke to many, most of them workers from the area such as guards, vendors, guides, men from the Antiquities Authority, no one knew for sure how or when she agreed with him that they would enter the pyramid at sunrise. Many men had wanted to do such a thing: women came there from divers quarters of the world, of all different ages, their features and their personalities diverse, but the way in which this young girl appeared was different. She was like a foreigner in looks but, with her vivacity, her charm, her quickness of wit, and that...

  7. A Sixth Text Shadow
    (pp. 89-98)

    For years people talked of and swapped information about him, some providing precise descriptions and accounts. Nor was this restricted to the villages, Bedouin camps, and hamlets close to the Giza shore; it extended to many far-flung places, and scholars of such matters, as well as journalists, travelers, and the consuls of foreign nations (who write in their reports of every matter, great and small) referred to him. All those who saw him close up with their own eyes or spoke with him and left an account agree that he came from far away, though they differ over where that...

  8. A Seventh Text Luminosity
    (pp. 99-104)

    He recoiled.

    He stopped.

    What he was seeing was something he had never heard of before, had come across no reference to in his readings. The more surprised he became, the more he felt an obscure ease that could no more be likened to any he had felt before than the moment itself could be compared to any earlier moment.

    He was crossing from the east to the west, from below to above, climbing the hill close to the unseen point that lay in the midst of the empty space between the Great and the Middle pyramids.

    A fluid winter’s...

  9. An Eighth Text Silence
    (pp. 105-108)

    He went out onto the roof on this his first night in the little house near the desert, everything contained in which he had made with his own hands, the way he wanted it, even going so far to as supervise the simple building operations, leaving nothing to others. This was the moment for whose realization he had struggled ever since he had first started coming to this place so steeped in antiquity, whose plantations, palms, water channels, little bridges, and horizon were defined and shaped by three closely grouped pyramids, two almost complete, a third ruined and dilapidated yet...

  10. A Ninth Text A Dance
    (pp. 109-112)

    A certain point … between east and west.

    She appears to him who is patient, who strives, struggles, exhausts himself, and thus becomes empowered. Her appointed hour never changes, her appearance being simultaneous with the sudden swelling of that music that comes from no source, from a place that can be neither identified nor delimited.

    None sees her but he to whom has been given the capacity to withstand yearning and grief, to suppress his sighs. And the greater the effort made, the greater the clarity of the vision, so that the empowered can make out her royal features, peer...

  11. A Tenth Text
    (pp. 113-116)

    They seem as ones by a promise bound to meet

    Though long are the ages that pass between their trysts....

  12. An Eleventh Text
    (pp. 117-120)

    The beginning is a point and the ending is a point....

  13. A Twelfth Text
    (pp. 121-124)

    At the apex, extinction....

  14. A Thirteenth Text
    (pp. 125-128)

    All things are from nothing....

  15. A Fourteenth Text
    (pp. 129-132)

    Nothing.

    Nothing.

    Nothing....

  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 133-134)