Today I continued my deep dive into Ancient Egypt. I read that the last king of the 11th Dynasty, Mentuhotep IV’s principal accomplishment of his reign was to bring back a block of stone from an expedition for his royal sarcophagus. (ie his coffin)
This struck me. The result of the reign was some luxury product from a foreign land. Some rare and precious thing that was then sculpted into a funerary object. It made me think both of trade and of funerals. We normally associate the first humans (the first hominids) with reverence for the dead (funerary objects). What if in 2001 space Odyssey the monolith resulted in the first Ochre death shroud, or even the attempt to trade with the rival group. Is technology and war technology at that the foundation of humanity?
We could call funerary objects, like Ushabtis – little dolls that will be your servants in the afterlife – or even pyramids as tech. People do. But is this tech?
I am thinking about of the relationship between the symbolic world and the material world.
For example I meditate (right now I ‘m doing Trataka) in the morning and this has an effect on my ability to act calmly during stressful situations. Now some people may say that meditation is actually physical. I am changing my breathing and perhaps my neurochemistry by focusing. But what about something like I wake up and I have a dream about getting into a fight with my mother and then I am sort of irritated at my mother for something that has happened in the symbolic realm of my unconscious. This now has a material impact.
It is the relationship between prayer and ritual and acting in the world. It is the freudian notion that what happens in fantasy is as impactful as what has happened in real life. Now we may find out that there really is no distinction between the symbolic realm and the material realm. That the symbolic realm creates physiological changes that really makes it another type of material realm.
But for now lets say there is a difference -for arguments sake.
The funerary objects operate in the symbolic realm. As technology they are symbolic technology.
A waterwheel operates in the material realm. Or even yoga operates in the material realm on our posture and breathing and perhaps the construction of our ability to create a symbolic realm. As a technology this is material technology.
What is technology – etymologically – the logic of craft. Craft is how you make something, or the notion that you are involved in something where someone can become an expert.
Are all realms of life subject to the possibility of mastery (of becoming an expert)?
The becoming of an expert is aided in technology, an expert is perhaps even an expert at using a technology., That could perhaps be the definition of being an expert.