"I have said that Joseph knew by heart some pretty Babylonian verses which originally came from a written tradition of great extent and full of lying wisdom. He had learned them from travellers who had touched at Hebron, with whom he had held speech, in his conversa-ble way, and from his tutor, old Eliezer, a freedman of his father, not to be confused (as Joseph sometimes confused him, and even the old man himself probably enjoyed doing ) with that Eliezer who was the oldest servant of the original wanderer and who had once wooed the daughter of Bethuel for Isaac at the well. Now we know these verses and legend; we have texts of them, written on Tablets found at Nineveh, in the palace of Asshuranipal, king of the universe, son of Asserhaddon, son of Sennacherib; some of them preserved in grace-ful cuneiform characters on greyish-yellow clay, are our earliest documented source for the Great Flood in which the Lord wiped out the first human race on account of its corruption, and which played such an important role in Joseph's own personal tradition.Literally speaking, this source itself is not an original one; these crumbling tab-lets bear transcriptions made by learned slaves only some six hundred years before our own era, at the command of Asshurbanipal, a sovereign much addicted to the written word and the established view, an "ex-ceeding wise one,"in the Babylonian phrase, and by a zealous accumu-lator of the fruits of exceeding wisdom. Indeed they were copied from an original a good thousand years older, from the time that is, of the
Lawgiver and the moon wanderer; which was about as easy or as hard , for Asshurbanipal's tablet-writers to read and to under-stand as for us to-day a manuscript of the time of Charlemagne. Written in a quite obsolete and underdeveloped hand, a hieratic docu-ment, it must have been hard to decipher; whether its significance was wholly honoured in the copy remains matter for doubt
And then, this original: it was not actually an original; not the original, when you come to look at it. It was itself a copy of a docu-ment out of God knows what distant time; upon which, then, though without precisely knowing where,one might rest, as upon a true original, if it were not itself provided with glosses and additions by the hand of the scribe, who thought thus to make more comprehen-
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sible an original text lying again who knows how far back in time; though what they probably did was further to transmogrify the original wisdom of his text. And thus I might go on - if I were not convinced that my readers already understand what I mean when I speak of coulisses and abysses.
The Egyptians expressed it in a phrase which Joseph knew and himself used on occasion. For although none of the sons of Ham were tolerated in Jacob's tents, because of their ancestor the shamer of his sire, who had turned black all over, also because Jacob entertained religious doubts on the score of the morals of Mizraim; yet the eager-minded lad had often mingled with Egyptians, in the towns, in Kirjath Arba as well as in Shechem, and had picked up this and that of the tongue in which he was to bear such brilliant witness. The Egyp-tians then speaking of something that had high and indefinite an-tiquity, would say: "It comes from the days of Set." By whom of course they meant one of their gods, the wily brother of their Mar-duk or Tammuz, whom they called Osiris, the Martyr, because Set had first lured him into a sarcophagus and cast it into the river, and afterwards torn him to pieces like a wild beast and killed him entirely, so that Osiris, the Sacrifice, now ruled as lord of the dead and ever-lasting king of the lower world."
For what might have been the ump in teenth time, the scribe writ, the reign of the other man was 3 x 2 x 2 x 6 years and 3 x 2 x 2 x 6 is... ? and 72 conspirators x the 14 Osirian members iz...? Well then, you work it out.
"From the days of Set"; the people of Egypt had many uses for the phrase, for with them the origins of everything went back in undemonstrable ways into that darkness.
At the edge of the Libyan desert, near Memphis, hewn out of the rock, crouched the colossus and hybrid, fifty-three metres high; lion and maid with a maidens breasts and the beard of a man, and on its headcloth the kingly serpent rearing itself. The huge paws of its cat's body stretched out before it, its nose was blunted by the tooth of time. It had always crouched there, always with its nose blunted by time; and of an age when its nose had not been blunted, or when it had not crouched there, there was no memory at all. Thothmes the Fourth, Golden Hawk and Strong Bull, King of Upper and of lower Egypt, beloved of the goddess of truth and belonging to the eighteenth dynasty which was also the dynasty of Amun-is-satisfied, by reason of a command received in a dream before he mounted the throne, had had the collossal statue dug out of the sands of the desert, where it lay in great part drifted over and covered up. But some fifteen hun-dred years before that, King Cheops of the fourth dynasty - the same, by the bye, who built the great pyramid for his own tomb and made sacrifice to the sphinx - had found it half in ruins; and of any time when it had not been known, or even known with a whole nose there was no knowledge at all."
Had such been possible, it may well have been the moment for Zed Aliz to drown in bitter sweet memories of the love of it all.
Brother Thomas continued:
"Was it Set who himself hewed out of the stone that fabulous beast, in which later generations saw an image of the sun-god, calling it Horus in the mount of light? It was possible, of course, for Set, as
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likewise Osiris the Sacrifice, had probably not always been a god, but sometime or other a man, and indeed a king over Egypt. The state-ment is often made that a certain Menes or Horus-Menes some six thousand years before ourera founded the first Egyptian dynasty, and everything before that is "pre-dynastic"; he,Menes, having first united the two countries, the upper and the lower, the papyrus and the lily, the red and the white crown, and ruled as first king over Egypt, the history of which began with his reign. Of this statement probably every word is false; to the penetrating eye King Menes turns out to be nothing but a coulisse. Egyptian priests told Herodotus that the written history of their country went back eleven thousand, three hundred and forty years before his era, which means for us about fourteen thousand years; a reckoning which is calculated to rob King Menes' figure of all its primitiveness. The history of Egypt alternates between periods of discord and impotence and periods of brilliance and power; epochs of diverse rulers or none at all and epochs of strongly concentrated power; it becomes increasingly clear that these epochs alternated too often to make it likely that King Menes was the earliest ruler over a unified realm. The discords which he healed had followed upon earlier unification and that upon still earlier disruption. How many times the "older," "earlier, "again" are to be repeated we cannot tell; but only that the first unification took place under dynastic deities, whose sons presumably were that Set and Osiris; the sacrifice, murder and dismemberment of the latter being legendary references to quarrels over the succession, which at that time was determined by stratagem and crime. That was a past of a profound, mythical and theological character, even to the point of becoming spiritualized and ghostlike; it became present, it became the object of religious reverance in the shape of certain animals - falcons and jackals - honoured in the ancient capitals, Buto and Nekheb; in these the souls of those beings of primitive time were supposed to be mysteriously preserved.
"FROM the days of Set" - young Joseph relished the phrase, and I share his enjoyment; for like the Egyptians, I find it most applicable, and to nearly everything in life. Wherever I look, I think of the words: and the origin of all things, when I come to search for it, pales away into the days of Set.
At the time when our story begins - an arbitrary beginning, it is true, but we must begin somewhere, and fix a point behind which we do not go, otherwise we too shall land in the days of Set - at this time young Joseph already kept the flocks with his brethren, though only under rather privileged conditions; which is to say that when it
The far yonder scribe, not looking into the mirror of the Zed Aliz Zed, did not thereby see a tear in the I.
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pleased him to do so, he watched as they did his father's sheep, goats and kine on the plains of Shechem and Hebron. What sort of animals were these, and wherein different from ours? In nothing at all. They were the very same peaceful and familiar beasts, at the same stage of development as those we know. The whole history of cattle-breeding
- for instance of the domestic ox from the wild buffalo - lay even in young Joseph's day so far back in the past that "far" is a feeble word to use in such a connection. It has been shown that the ox was bred in the stone age, before the use of metal tools
that is before the bronze age; this boy of the Amurruland, Joseph, with his Egyptian and Babylonian culture, was almost as remote from those dim times as we our selves are.
As for the wild sheep from which Jacob's - flocks and ours - were bred, we are told that it is extinct. It died out "long ago"it must have been completely domesticated "in the days of Set." And the breed-ing of the horse, the ass, the goat and the pig - out of that wild boar which mangled Tammuz, the young shepherd - all that was accom-plished in the same remote and misty past. Our historical records go back some seven thousand years - during which time no wild animal was still in process of domestication. There is no tradition nor any memory of such events. If we look at the cultivation of wild grasses and their development into cereals, the story is the same. Our species of grain, our barley, oats, rye, maize and wheat - they are the very ones which nourished the youthful Joseph - have been cultivated so long that no botanist can trace the beginning of the process, nor any people boast of having been the first to initiate it. We are told that in the stone age there were five varieties of wheat and three of barley. As for the cultivation of the vine from its wild beginnings - an incomparable achievement, humanly speaking, whatever else one may think about it - tradition, echoing hollowly up from the depths of the past, ascribes it to Noah, the one upright man, survivor of the flood, the same whom the Baby-lonians called Utnapishtim and also Atrachasis, the exceeding wise one, who imparted to Gilgamesh, his late grandchild, hero of the legends written on the tablets, the story of the beginning of things. This upright man, then, as Joseph likewise knew, was the first to plant vineyards - nor did Joseph consider it such a very upright deed. Why could he not have planted something useful: fig trees for instance, or olives? But no, he chose to plant the vine, and was drunk therefrom, and in his drunkenness was mocked and shamed of his manhood. But when Joseph imagined all that to have happened not so very long ago, that miracle of the grape, perhaps some dozen of generations before his "great-grandfather," his ideas of time showed themselves to be hazy indeed; the past which he so lightly invoked being actually matter of remote and primeval distances. Having said
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thus much, it only remains to add - however much we may pale at the thought - that those distances themselves must have lain very late in time, compared with the remoteness of the beginning of the human race, for them to have produced a civilization capable of that high emprise, the cultivation of the vine.
Where then do they lie in time, the beginnings of human civiliz-ation? How old is it? I put the question with reference to young Jo-seph, whose stage of development, though remote from ours, did not essentially differ from it, aside from those less precise habits of thought of his, at which we may benevolently smile. We have only to enquire, to conjure up a whole vista of time-coulisses opening out infinitely, as in mockery. When we ourselves speak of antiquity we mostly mean the Graeco-Roman world - which, relatively speaking, is of a brand new modernity. Going back to the so-called "primitive population" of Greece, the Pelasgians, we are told that before they settled in the islands, the latter were inhabited by the actual primitive
Population , a race which preceded the Phoenicians in the domination of the sea - a fact which reduces to the merest time-coulisse the Phoenician claim to have been the first seafaring folk. But science is increasingly unfavourable to all these theories; more and more it inclines to the hypothesis and the conviction that these "barbarians" were colonists from Atlantis, the lost continent beyond the pillars of Hercules, which in time gone by united Europe with America. But whether this was the earliest region of the earth to be populated by human beings is very doubtful, so doubtful as to be unlikely; it is much more probable that the early history of civilization, including that of Noah, the exceeding wise one, is to be connected with regions of the earth's surface much older in point of time and already long before fallen to decay.
But these are foothills whereupon we may not wander, and only vaguely indicate by that before-quoted Egyptian phrase; the peoples of the east behaved with a piety equal to their wisdom when they ascribed to the gods their first knowledge of a civilized life. The red-hued folk of Mizraim saw in Osiris the Martyr the benefactor who had first given them laws and taught them to cultivate the soil; being prevented finally by the plotting of the crafty Set, who attacked him like a wild boar. As for the Chinese, they consider the founder of their empire to have been an imperial half-god named Fu-his, who introduced cattle into China and taught the priceless art of writing. This personage apparently did not consider the Chinese, at that time - some two thousand, eight hundred and fifty-two years before our era - to be ripe for astronomical instruction; for according to their annals they received it only about thirteen hundred years later, from the great foreign emperor, Tai-Ko-Fokee; whereas the astrologers of Shinar were already several hundred years earlier instructed in
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the signs of the Zodiac; and we are told that a man who accompanied Alexander of Macedon to Babylon sent to Aristotle Chaldaen astro-nomical records scratched on baked clay, whose antiquity would be to-day four thousand one hundred and sixty years. That is easily possible, for it seems likely that observation of the heavens and astro-nomical calculations were made in Atlantis, whose disappearance according to Solon, dated nine thousand years years before that
worthy's own time; from which it follows that man attained to skill in these lofty arts some eleven and a half thousand years before our era. It is clear that the art of writing is not younger than this, and very possibly much older. I speak of it in particular because Joseph enter-tained such a lively fondness for the art, and unlike his brothers early perfected himself in it; being instructed at first by Eliezer, in the Babylonian as well as in the Phoenician and Hittite scripts. He had a genuine weakness for the god or idol whom in the east they called Nabu, the writer of history, and in Tyre and Sidon Taut; in both places recognizing him as the inventor of letters and the chronicler of the beginning of things: the Egyptian god Thoth of Hermopolis, the letter-writer of the gods and the patron of science, whose office was regarded in those parts as higher than all others; that sincere, solicitous and reasonable god, who was sometimes a white-haired ape, of pleasing appearance, sometimes wore an Ibis head, and likewise had certain tender and spiritual affiliations with the moon which were quite to young Joseph's taste. These predilections the youth would have not dared to confess to his father Jacob, who set his face sternly against all such coquetting with idols, being even stricter in his atti-tude than were certain very high places themselves to which his austerity was dedicated. For Joseph's history proves that such little departures on his part into the impermissible were not visited very severely, at least not in the long run. As for the art of writing, with reference to its misty origins it would be proper to paraphrase the Egyptian expression and say that it came "from the days of Thoth." The written roll is represented in the oldest Egyptian art, and we know a papyrus which belonged to Horus-Send, a king of the second dynasty, six thousand years before our era, and which even then was supposed to be so old that it was said Sendi had inherited it from Set. When Snefru and that Cheops reigned, sons of the sun, of the fourth dynasty, and the pyramids of Gizeh were built, knowledge of writing was so usual amongst the lower classes that we to-day can read the simple inscriptions scratched by artisans on the great building blocks. But it need not surprise us that such knowledge was common property in that distant time, when we recall the priestly account of the age of the written history of Egypt. If then, the days of an established language of signs are so unnum-
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bered, where shall we seek for the beginnings of oral speech ? The oldest, the primeval language, we are told, is Indo-Germanic, Indo-European, Sanscrit. But we may be sure that that is a beginning as hasty as any other; and that there existed a still older mother-tongue which included the roots of the Aryan as well as the Semitic and Hamitic tongues. Probably it was spoken on Atlantis - that land which is the last far and faint coulisse still dimly visible to our eyes, but which itself can scarcely be the original home of articulate man. Certain discoveries have caused the experts in the history of the earth to estimate the age of the human species at about five hundred thousand years. It is scant reckoning, when we consider, first, how science to-day teaches that man in his character as animal is the old-est of all mammals and was already in the latter dawn of life existing upon this earth in various zoological modes, amphibious and reptilian, before any cerebral development took place; and second, what end-less and boundless expanses of time must have been at his disposal, to turn the crouching, dream-wandering, marsupial type, with un-seperated fingers, and a sort of flickering pre-reason as his guide, such as man must have been before the time of Noah- Utnapishtim, the exceeding wise, into the inventor of bow and arrow, the fire maker, the welder of meteoric iron, the cultivator of corn and wine, the breeder of domestic cattle - in a word, into the shrewd, skilful and in every essential respect modern human being which appears before us at the earliest grey dawn of history. A priest at the temple of Sais explained to Solon the Greek myth of Phaeton through a human ex-periencing of some deviation in the course of the bodies which move round the earth in space, resulting in a devastating conflagaration on the earth. Certainly it becomes clearer and clearer that the dream memory of man, formless but shaping itself ever anew after the man-ner of sagas, reaches back to catastrophes of vast antiquity, the tra-dition of which, fed by recurrent but less similar events, established itself among various peoples and produced that formation of coulisses which forever lures and leads onwards the traveller in time.
Those verses which Joseph had heard and learned by heart related among other things the story of the Great Flood. He would in any case have known this story even if he had not learned of it in the Babylonian tongue and version, for it existed in his western country and especially among his own people, although not in quite the same form, but with details diffreing from those in the version current in the land of the rivers; just at this very time, indeed, it was in process of establishing itself in a variant upon the eastern form. Joseph well knew the tale: how all that was flesh, the beasts of the field not ex-
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cepted, had corrupted most indescribably His way upon the earth; Yes, the earth herself practised whoredom and deceivingly brought forth oats where wheat had been sown - and all this despite the warn-ings of Noah; so that the Lord and Creator, who saw His very angels involved in this abomination, at length after a last trial of patience, of a hundred and twenty years, could no longer bear it and be re-sponsible for it, but must let the judgement of the flood prevail. And now He, in his majestic good-nature ( which the angels in no wise shared )"
Not interrupting the Majesty of the That, and under the light gaze of a smile from the other man.
The Zed Aliz Zed, made a casting of magixalalphabetical letters and numbers, these transcribed aziz. this the far yonder scribe duly recorded.
ANGEL 1 5 7 5 3 Minos az in king,
ANGLE 1 5 7 3 5 iz 18 1 + 8 = 9 The far yonder scribe then writ angels x angles = 36
Reight wah scribe, said the good brother, continue az from "(which the angels in no wise shared),"
No point in writing (which the angles in no wise squared), again, thought the scribe, and instead writ,
"left open a little back door for life to escape by, in the shape of a chest, pitched and caulked, into which Noah went up with the animals. Joseph knew that too and knew the day on which the crea-tures entered the ark; it had been the tenth of the month Marcheswan and on the seventeenth the fountains of the great deep were broken up, at the time of the spring thawing, when Sirius rises in the daytime and the fountains of water begin to swell. It was on this day, then - Joseph had it from old Eliezer. But how often had this day come round since then ? He did not consider that, nor did old Eliezer; and here begin the foreshortnings, the confusions and the deceptive vistas which dominate the tradition Heaven knows when there happened that overwhelming encroach-ment of the Euphrates, a river at all times tending to irregular courses and sudden spate; or that startling irruption of the Persian Gulf into the solid land as the result of tornado and earthquake; that catastrophe which did not precisely create the tradition of the Deluge. Perhaps the most recent catastrophe had not been so very long ago ; and the nearer it was, the more facinating becomes the question whether and how, the generation which had personal experience of it suc-ceeded in confusing their present affliction with the subject of the tradition, in other words with the Deluge. It came to pass, and that it did so need cause us to feel neither surprise nor contempt. The event consisted less in that something past repeated itself ,than in that it became present. But that it could acquire presentness rested upon the fact that the circumstances which brought it about were at all times present. The ways of the flesh are perennially corrupt, and may be so in all god-fearingness. For do men know whether they do well or ill before God and whether that which seems to them good is not to the Heavenly One an abomination? Men in their folly know not God nor the decrees of the lower world; at any time forbearance can show itself exhausted, and judgement come into force;
And there is probably always a warning voice, a knowledgeable Atrachasis who knows how to interpret signs and by taking wise precautions is one among ten thousand to escape destruction. Not without having first confided to the earth the tablets of knowledge, as the seed-corn of
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future wisdom, so that when the waters subside, everything can begin afresh from the written seed. "At any time" therein lies the mystery. For the mystery is timeless, but the form of timelessness is the now and the here.
The Deluge, then, had its theatre on the Euphrates River, but also in China. Round the year 1300 before our era there was a frightful flood in the Huang-Ho after which the course of the river was regu-lated; it was a repetition of the great flood of some thousand and fifty years before, whose Noah had been the fifth Emperor, Yao, and which chronologically speaking, was far from having been the true and original Deluge, since the tradition of the latter is common to both peoples. Just as the Babylonian account, known to Joseph, was only a reproduction of earlier and earlier accounts, so the flood itself is to be referred back to earlier and earlier prototypes; one is convinced of being on solid ground at last, when one fixes, as the original origi-nal upon the sinking of the land Atlantis beneath the waves of the ocean - knowledge of which dread event penetrated into all the lands of the earth, previously populated from that same Atlantis, and fixed itself as a moveable tradition forever in the minds of men. But it is only an apparent stop and temporary goal. According to a Cha-daen computation, a period of thirty-nine thousand, one hundred and eighty years lay between the Deluge and the first historical dy-nasty of the lingdom of the two rivers. It follows that the sinking of Atlantis, occurring only nine thousand years before Solon, a very recent catastrophe indeed historically considered, certainly cannot have been the Deluge. It too was only a repetition, the becoming present of something profoundly past, a frightful refresher to the memory, and the original story is to be referred back at least to that incalculable point of time when the island continent called "Lemuria" in its turn only a remnant of the old Gondwana continent, sank be-neath the waves of the Indian Ocean.
What concerns us here is not calculable time. Rather it is time's arrogation and dissolution in the alternation of tradition and proph-ecy, which lends to the phrase "once upona time" its double sense of past and future and therewith its burden of potential present. Here the idea of reincarnation has its roots. The kings of Babel and the two Egypts, that curly- bearded Kurigalzu as well as Horus in the palace at Thebes, called Amun-is-satisfied, and all their predecessors and suc-cessors, were manifestations in the flesh of the sun god, that is to say the myth became in them a mysterium, and there was no distinction left between being and meaning. It was not until three thousand years later that men began disputing as to whether the Eucharist "was" or only "signified" the body of the sacrifice; but even such highly super-erogatory discussions as these cannot alter the fact that the essence of the mystery is and remains the timeless present. Such is the mean-
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ing of ritual, of the feast. Every Christmas the world saving Babe is born anew and lies in the cradle, destined to suffer, to die and to arise again. And when Joseph, in midsummer, at Shechem or at Beth-Lahma, at the feast of the weeping women, the feast of the burning of lamps, the feast of Tammuz, amid much wailing of flutes and joy-ful shoutings relived in the explicit present the murder of the lamented son, the youthful god, Osiris-Adonis, and his resurrection, there was occurring that phenomenon, the dissolution of time in mystery, which is of interest for us here because it makes logically unobjectionable a method of thought which quite simply recognized a deluge in every visitation by water.
PARALLEL with the story of the Flood is the tale of the great Tower. Common property like the other, it possessed local presentness in many places, and affords quite as good material for dreamy specu-lation and the forming of time-coulisses. For instance, it is as certain as it is excusable that Joseph confused the Great Tower itself with the temple of the sun at Babel, the so-called E-sagila or House of the Lifting of the Head. The Wanderer from Ur had doubtless done the same in his time, and it was certainly so considered not only in Joseph's sphere but above all in the land of Shinar itself. To all the Chaldaeans, E-sagila, the ancient and enormous terraced tower, built, according to their belief, by Bel the Creator, with the help of the black men he created expressly for the purpose, and restored and completed by Hammurabi, the Lawgiver; the Tower, seven sto-ries high, of whose brilliantly enamelled splendours Joseph had a lively mental picture; to all the Chaldaens E-sagila signified the pres-ent embodiment of an abstract idea handed down from far-away an-tiquity; the Tower, the sky soaring structure erected by human hands. In Joseph's particular milieu the legend of the Tower pos-sessed other and more far-reaching associations, which did not, pre-cisely speaking belong to it, such as the idea of the dispersal. This is explainable only by the moon-mans own personal attitude, his taking umbrage and going hence; for the people of Shinar had no such as-sociations whatever with the Midgals or citadels of their cities, but rather the contrary, seeing that Hammurabi, the Lawgiver, had ex-pressly caused it to be written that he had made their summits high in order to "bring together again" the scattered and dispersing peo-ple under the sway of "him who was sent" But the moon-man was thereby affronted in his notions of the deity, and in the face of Nim-rod's royal policy of concentration had dispersed himself and his; and thus in Joseph's home the past, made present in the shape of E-sagila, had become tinctured with the future and with prophecy;
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a judgement hung over the towering spite-monument of Nimrod's royal arrogance, not one brick was to remain upon another, and the builders thereof would be brought to confusion and scattered by the Lord God of Hosts. Thus old Eliezer taught the son of Jacob, and preserved thereby the double meaning of the "once upon a time," its mingled legend and prophecy, whose product was the timeless pres-ent, the Tower of the Chaldaens.
To Joseph its story was the story of the Great Tower itself. But it is plain that after all E-sagila is only a time-coulisse upon our endless path towards the original Tower. One time-coulisse, like many an-other. Mizraim's people, too, looked upon the tower as present, in the form of King Cheops' amazing desert tomb. And in lands of whose existence neither Joseph nor old Eliezer had the faintest no-tion, in Central America, that is, the people had likewise their tower or there image of a tower, the great pyramid of Cholula, the ruins of which are of a size and pretentiousness calculated to have aroused great anger and envy in the breast of King Cheops. The people of Cholula have always denied that they were the authors of this mighty structure. They declared it to be the work of giants, strangers from the east, they said, a superior race who, filled with drunken longing for the sun, had reared it up in their ardour, out of clay and asphalt, in order to draw near to the worshipped planet. There is much sup-port for the theory that these progressive foreigners were colonists from Atlantis, and it appears that these sun worshippers and astrolo-gers incarnate always made it their first care, wherever they went, to set up mighty watch-towers, before the faces of the astonished na-tives, modelled upon the high towers of their native land, and in par-ticular upon the lofty mountain of the gods of which Plato speaks. In Atlantis, then we may seek the prototype of the Great Tower. In any case we cannot follow its history further, but must here bring to an end our researches upon this extraordinary theme.
BUT where was paradise - "the garden in the East"? The place of happiness and repose, the home of man, where he ate of the tree of evil and was driven forth or actually drove himself forth and dispersed himself ? Young Joseph knew this as well as he knew about the flood, and from the same source. It made him smile a little when he heard dwellers in the Syrian desert say that the great oasis of Da-mascus was paradise, for that nothing more paradisial could be dreamed of than the way it lay among fruit orchards and charm-ingly watered gardens nestled between majestic mountain range and spreading seas of meadow, full of bustling folk of all races and the commerse of rich wares. And for politeness'sake he shrugged his
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shoulders only inwardly when men of Mizraim asserted that Egypt had been the earliest home of man, being as it was the centre and the navel of the world. The curly-bearded folk of Shinar, of course they too believed that their kingly city, called by them the "gateway of God" and "bond between heaven and earth" (Bab-ilu, markas same u ur-sitim: the boy Joseph could repeat the words glibly after them), in other words that Babel was the sacred centre of the earth. But in this matter of the world-navel Joseph had better and more precise in-formation, drawn from the personal experience of his good and solemn brooding father, who, when a young man on his way from "Seven Springs," the home of his family, to his uncle at Harran in the land of Naharain,, had quite unexpectedly and unconsciously come upon the real world-navel, the hill-town of Luz, with its sa-cred stone circle, which he had then renamed Beth-el house of God, because, fleeing from Esau, he had ther been vouchsafed that greatest and most solemn revelation of his whole life. On that height, where Jacob had set up his stone pillow for a mark and anointed it with oil, there henceforth was for Joseph and his people the centre of the world, the umbilical cord between heaven and earth. Yet not there lay Paradise; rather in the region of the beginnings and of the home -
Somewhere thereabouts, in Joseph's childish conviction, which was, moreover, a conviction widely held, whence the man of the moon city had once set out, in Lower Shinar, where the river drained away and the moist soil between its branches even yet abounded in luscious fruit-bearing trees.
Theologians have long favoured the theory that Eden was situ-ated somewhere in southern Babylonia and Adam's body formed of Babylonian soil. Yet this is only one more of the coulisse effects with which we are already so familiar; another illustration of the process of localization and back-reference - only that here it is of a kind extraordinary beyond all comparison, alluring us out beyond the earthly in the most literal sense and the most comprehensive way; only that here the bottom of the well which is human history dis-plays its whole, its immeasureable depth, or rather its bottomlessness, to which neither the conception of depth nor of darkness is any longer applicable, and we must introduce the conflicting idea of light and height; of those bright heights, that is, down from which the Fall could take place, the story of which is indissolubly bound up with our soul-memories of the garden of happiness.
The traditiona description of Paradise is in one respect exact There went out, it says, from Eden a river to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and came into four heads: the Pison, Gi-hon, euphrates and Hiddekl. The Pison it goes on to say, is also called the Ganges; it flows about all India and brings with it gold. The Gihon is the Nile, the greatest river of the world, that encom-
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passeth the whole of Ethiopia. But Hiddekel, the arrow-swift river, is the Tigris, which flows towards the east of Assyria. This last is not disputed. But the identity of the Pison and the Gihon with the Gan-ges and the Nile is denied with considerable authority. These are thought to be rather the Araxes which flows into the Caspian Sea, and the Halys which flows into the Black Sea; and accordingly the site of Paradise would still be in the Babylonian sphere of interest, but not in Babylon itself, rather in the Armenian Alpine country north of the Mesopotamian plain, where the two rivers in question have their sources close together.
The theory seems reasonably acceptable. For if, as the most re-garded tradition has it, the "Phrat" or Euphrates, rose in Paradise, then Paradise cannot be situated at the mouth of that river. But even while, with this fact in mind, we award the palm to Armenia, we have done no more than take the step to the next-following fact; in other words we have come only one more coulisse further on God, so old Eliezer had instructed Joseph, gave the world four quarters: morning, evening, noon and midnight guarded at the seat of the Most High by four sacred beasts and four guardian angels, which watch over this fixed conditions with unchanging eyes"
Alizzed kept thinking angles. And the other man nodded apparently, apparently nodding.
"Did not the pyramids of Lower Egypt exactly face with their sides, covered with shining cement, the four quarters of the earth ? And thus the arrangement of the rivers of Paradise was conceived. They are to be thought of in their course as four serpents, the tips of whose tails touch, whose mouths lie far asunder, so they go out from each other towards the four quarters of the heavens. This now is an obvious transference. It is a geography transferred to a site in Near Asia, but familiar to us in another place, now lost namely, in Atlan-tis, where according to Plato's narrative and description, these same four streams went out from the mount of the gods towering up in the middle, and in the same way, that is at right angles to the four quarters of the earth."
Alizzed kept thinking angels. And the other man nodded apparently, apparently nodding.
"all learned strife as to the geographical mean-ing of the four head waters and as to the site of the garden itself has been shown to be idle and received its quietus, through the tracing backwards by the paradise-idea, from which it appears that the latter obtained in many places, founded on the popular memory of a lost land, where a wise and progressive humanity passed happy years in a frame of things as beneficient as it was blest. We have here an un-mistakable contamination of the tradition of an actual paradise with the legend of a golden age of humanity. Memory seems to go back to that land of the Hesperides, where, if reports say truth, a great people pursued a wise and pious course under conditions never since so favourable, But no, the Garden of Eden it was not; that site of the original home and of the Fall; it was only a coulisse and an ap-parent goal upon our paradise-seeking pilgrimage in time and space;
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and our archaeology of the earth's surface seeks for Adam, the first man, in times and places whose decline and fall took place before the population of Atlantis. What a deluded pilgrimage, what an onward luring-hoax! For even if it were possible, or excusable, however misleading, to identify as Paradise the land of the golden apples, where the four great rivers flowed, how could we, even with the best will in the world to self deception, hold with such an idea, in view of the Lemurian world which is our next and furthest time-coulisse; a scene wherein the tor-tured larva of the human being - our lovely and well-favoured young Joseph would have refused with pardonable irritation to recognize himself in the picture - endured the nightmare of fear and lust which made up his life, in desperate conflict with scaly mountains of flesh in the shape of flying lizards and giant newts ? That was no garden of Eden, it was Hell. Or rather, it was the first accursed state after the Fall. Not here, not at the beginning of time and space was the fruit plucked from the tree of desire and death, plucked and tasted. That comes first. We have sounded the well of time to its depths, and not yet reached our goal: the history of man is older than the material world which is the work of his will older than life, which rests upon his will.
A very ancient tradition of human thought, based upon man's truest knowledge of himself and going back to exceedingly early days whence it has become incorporated into the succession of religions, prophe-cies and doctrines of the East, into Avesta, Islam, Manichaeanism, Gnosticism and Hellenism, deals with the figure of the first or first completely human man, the Hebraic Adam qadmon; conceived as a youthful being made out of pure light, formed before the beginning of the world as prototype and abstract of humanity. To this concep-tion others have attached themselves, varying to some extent, yet in essentials the same. Thus, and accordingly, primitive man was at his very beginning God's chosen champion in the struggle against the evil which penetrated into the new creation; yet harm befell him, he was fettered with demons, imprisoned in the flesh, estranged from his origins, and only freed from the darkness of earthly and fleshly exist-ence by a second emissary of the deity, who in some mysterious way was the same as himself, his own higher self, and restored to the world of light, leaving behind him, however, some portions of his light, which were then utilized for the creation of the material world and earthly creatures. Amazing tales, these, wherein the religious element of redemption is faintly visible behind the cosmogonic frame. For we are told that the original human Son of God contained in His body of light the seven metals to which the seven planets correspond and
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out of which the world is formed. Again it is said that this human light essence, issuing from the paternal primitive source, descended through the seven planetary spheres and the lord of each partook of his essence. But then looking down he perceived his image mirrored in matter, became enamoured of it, went down into it and thus fell in bondage to lower nature. All which explains man's double self, an indissoluble combination of godlike attributes and free essence with sore enslavement to the baser world.
In this narcisstic picture, so full of tragic charm, the meaning of the tradition begins to clarify itself; the clarification is complete at the point where the descent of the Child of God from His world of light into the world of nature loses the character of mere obedient pursuance of a higher order, hence guiltless, and becomes an inde-pendent and voluntary motion of longing, by that token guilty. And at the same time we can begin to unravel the meaning of that "sec-ond emissary" who identical in a higher sense with the light-man, comes to free him from his involvement with the darkness and to lead him home. For the doctrine now proceeds to divide the world into the three personal elements of matter, soul and spirit, among whom, and between whom and the Deity there is woven the romance, whose real protagonist is the soul of mankind, adventurous and in adventure creative, a mythus, which, complete by reason of its combinat-ion of oldest record and newest prophecy, gives us clear leading as to the true site of Paradise and upon the story of the Fall. It is stated that the soul, which is to say the primevally human, was, like matter, one of the principles laid down from the beginning, and that it possessed life but no knowledge. It had in fact, so little that, though dwelling in the nearness of God, in a lofty sphere of happi-ness and peace, it let itself be disturbed and confused by the inclina-tion - in a literal sense, implying direction - towards still formless matter, avid to mingle with this and evoke forms upon which it could compass physical desires. But the yearning and pain of its passion did not diminish after the soul had let itself be betrayed to a descent from its home; they were heightened even to torment by the circum-stance that matter sluggishly and obstinately preferred to remain in its original formless state, would hear nothing of taking on form to please the soul, and set up all imaginable opposition to being so formed. But now God intervened; seeing nothing for it, probably, in such a posture of affairs, but to come to the aid of the soul as it wrestled in love with refractory matter. He created the world; that is to say, by way of assisting the primitive human being He brought forth solid and permanent forms, in order that the soul might gratify physical de-sires upon these and engender man. But immediately afterwards, in pursuance of a considered plan, He did something else. He sent, such
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literally are the words of the source upon which I am drawing, He sent out of the substance of His divinity spirit to man in this world, that it might rouse from its slumber the soul in the frame of man, and show it , by the Father's command,
that this world was not its place, and that its sensual and passional enterprise had been a sin, as a consequence of which the creation of the world was to be regarded. What in truth the spirit ever tries to make clear to the human soul imprisoned in matter, the constant theme of its admonitions, is pre-cisely this: that the creation of the world came about only by reason of its folly in mingling with matter, and that once it parted therefrom the world of form would no longer have any existence. To rouse the soul to this view is the task of the reasonable spirit; all its hoping and striving are directed to the end that the passionate soul once aware of the whole situation, will at length reacknowledge its home on high, strike out of its consciousness the lower world and strive to regain once more that lofty sphere of peace and happiness. In the very mo-ment when that happens the lower world will be absolved;matter will win back her own sluggish will, being released from the bonds of form to rejoice once more, as she ever did and ever shall, in form-lessness and be happy in her own way.
Thus far the doctrine and the romance of the soul. And here, be-yond a doubt, we have come to the very last "backward", reached the remotest human past, fixed upon Paradise and tracked down the story of the Fall, of knowledge and of death, to its pure and original form. The original human soul is the oldest thing, more correctly an oldest thing, for it has always been, before time and before form, Just has God has always been and likewise matter. As for the intelli-gent spirit, in whom we recognize the "second emissary" entrusted with the task of leading the soul back home; although in some unde-fined way closely related to it, yet it is after all not quite the same, for it is younger a missionary sent by God for the soul's instruction and release, and thus for accomplishing the dissolution of the world of form. If in some of its phases the dogma asserts or allegorically in-dicates the higher oneness of soul and spirit, it probably does so on good ground; this, however does not exclude the conception that the human soul is originally conceived as being God's champion against the evil in the world, and the role ascribed to it very like the one which falls to the spirit sent to effect its own release. Certainly the reason why the dogma fails to explain this matter clearly is that it has not achieved a complete portrayal of the role played by the spirit in the romance of the soul; obviously the tradition requires filling out on this point. In this world of form and death conceived out of the marriage of soul and matter, the task of the spirit is clearly outlined and unequivo-cal. Its mission consists in awakening the soul, in its self-forgetful
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involvement with form and death, to the memory of its higher ori-gin; to convince it that its relation with matter is a mistaken one, and finally to make it yearn for its original source with ever stronger yearning, until one day it frees itself wholly from pain and desire and wings away homewards. And therewith straightway the end of the world is come, death done away and matter restored to her ancient freedom. But as will sometimes happen that an ambassader from one kingdom to another and hostile one, if he stay there for long, will fall a prey to corruption, from his own countrie's point of view, gliding unconsciously over to the other's habits of thought and fa-vouring its interests, settling down and adapting himself and taking on colour, until at last he becomes unavailable as a representative of his own world; this or something like it must be the experience of the spirit in its mission. The longer it stops below, the longer it plies its diplomatic activities, the more they suffer from an inward breach, not to be concealed from the higher sphere, and in all probability leading to its recall, were the problem of a substitute easier to solve than it seems is the case.
There is no doubt that its role as slayer and grave digger of the world begins to trouble the spirit in the long run. For its point of view alters, being coloured by its sojourn below while being, in its own mind, sent to dismiss death out of the world, it finds itself on the contrary regarded as the deathly principle, as that which brings death into the world. It is in fact, a matter of the point of view, the angle of approach. One may look at it one way or the other. Only one needs to know one's own proper attitude, that to which one is obli-gated from home; otherwise there is bound to occur the phenome-non which I objectively characterized as corruption, and one is alien-ated from one's natural duties. And here appears a certain weakness in the spirits character: he does not enjoy his reputation as the principle of death and the destroyer of form - though he did largely bring it upon himself, out of his great impulse towards judgement, even when directed against himself - and it becomes a point of hon-our with him to get rid of it. Not that he would willfully betray his mission. Rather against his intention, under pressure, out of that im-pulse and from a stimulus which one might describe as an unsanc-tioned infatuation for the soul and its passional activities, the words of his own mouth betray him ; they speak in favour of the soul and its enterprise, and by a sympathetic refinement upon his own pure motives, utter themselves on the side of life and form. It is an open question, whether such a traitorous or near traiterous attitude does the spirit any good, and whether he cannot help serving, even by that very conduct, the purpose for which he was sent, namely the dissolution of the material world by the releasing of the soul from it; or whether he does not know all this. And only thus conducts him-
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self because he is at bottom certain that he may permit himself so much. At all events, this shrewd, self-denying identification of his own will with that of the soul explains the allegorical tendency of the tale, according to which the "second emissary" is another self of that light man who was sent to do battle with evil. Yes, it is possible that this part of the tale conceals a prophetic allusion to cer-tain mysterious decrees of God, which were considered by the teach-ers and preachers as too holy and inscrutable to be uttered.