(I’ma make an actual substantive post, look at me!)
So something I read in my new Hornung book has me thinking about ma’at, as one does. And this is me partially speculating – I really need to knuckle down and read Karenga but frankly I find the prose even more impenetrable than Assmann so it’s heavy going for me.
I’m developing a suspicion that ma’at is found more readily in becoming pure than in being it, in healing injuries rather than remaining unhurt, in finding the truths that allow union rather than simply speaking truth.
And perhaps it’s obvious from the third one, with the “ma’at is that force which gathers people into communities” thing, but maybe not – maybe people think of speaking ma’at as simply saying true things. (But there are so many true things I do not say because they are not productive, not supportive of community to say. And most people whose feet stink are already aware of that, anyway.)
But I’ve been chewing on things. Like the restored Eye of Heru being one of the archetypical offerings, not the uninjured Eye. Like the cycle of the sun being one that encompasses age and decrepitude and injury and restores to health. Like the successionary nature of ancestors: I establish the dead in their place, so that they may establish me in my own. The use of spells and confessions to attempt to make one free of one’s greatest failings before judgement before the tribunal. All these things.
Yes, it is in keeping with ma’at to remain whole and uninjured, but perhaps the greater part of it comes in bringing that which has been damaged in some way back to a greater unity.
This thought brought to you also by the notion I am toying with, that the great heresy of the Amarna period was not its sharp trend towards a monotheism it did not really manage to entirely achieve – but its vigorous denial of the mysteries of the night and its fear of the dark. (And Akhenaten feared death so much that he could not build something that could survive him.)