Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Theory of an Ancient and Open System compared to William Schryver's Theory of a Modern and Open System

A number of times, I have made comparisons of my theory to other theories to show similarities, and how various principles from other theories exist in mine, and that my theory is not as strange and new as some people think.  For example, I have described how principles in my theory harmonize with the Iconotropy theory from William Hamblin, which is essentially identical in principle to Kevin Barney's Semitic Adaptation theory, except Hamblin's theory of iconotropy is more general, while Barney is more specific in saying that Semitic Adaptation probably was done by a Jew, or Jewish redactor of the Book of Abraham.  I say the iconotropy was done by a cult or sect of Egyptian priests that were involved with the Greco-Roman Syncretism and Iconotropy phenomena that are present in the Greek Magical Papyri.  The principles in this are all the same as the ones in the Greek Magical Papyri, with the kind of iconotropic things that are happening in them.

Anyhow, I have decided to compare my theory yet again to another theory, to show the similarity to William Schryver's theory, to try to emphasize to readers my point that Brother Schryver was on the right track, but that he simply applied the principles and facts that he had discovered in the wrong way, namely, trying to assign responsibility for these phenomena in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers to a modern invention of Mormons in the 19th Century.

I have been criticized recently because the implications of my theory are that the ancients implemented an open system, where hieroglyphs could be used to literally represent a concept that they were connected to thematically, or to represent things that share that theme.  This would mean re-use of any existing symbolism in any document for practically any purpose, just so long as the use of the characters are rational, and just as long as you explain what you are doing.  This would make Egyptian characters into variables like in Algebra or computer programming, and would imply that the Egyptians were the people using them this way.  Yes, indeed.  People are OK with Brother Schryver suggesting that 19th century Mormons could do this.  People are OK with Brother Hamblin saying that the ancients could do this in general.  People are OK with Brother Barney saying an Egyptian or Jewish Redactor of the Book of Abraham could do this:  use characters/hieroglyphs/pictures abstractly and assign meanings to them that were different than their mundane/regular usage.  This is not a new concept, and it is not crazy.  I am actually saying that the characters actually have core meanings that thematically attach them to the things people were using them for.  In other words, they are logical containers for the value assignments, even though they are used abstractly like a variable.  Why is this suggestion so hard to understand?  Please, read this over again if you don't understand it.  It is really simple to understand.  I have quoted this statement from Nibley before:

The man on the throne [Facsimile 2, Fig. 7] is Min, the oldest incarnation of the Father, Creator, King, Most High God . . . Notice that the image does not depict God, but is a representation; the artist, like the mathematician, can use ANYTHING HE PLEASES to represent anything else AS LONG AS HE EXPLAINS IT. (One Eternal Round, p. 304, capitalization added for emphasis.  Italics in original.)

The implications of Nibley's statement when applied to the KEP is clear.  An explanation is necessary for an abstract symbol to make any sense.  But apologists that reject the KEP would want this principle to apply to only the pictures in the Facsimiles.  The pictures in the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham are all that certain people want to defend.  If we are to limit it to the Facsimiles only, that would be a double-standard. The KEP and Sensen characters deserve to have this statement from our dear Brother Nibley applied to them as much as anything Egyptian.

I have been criticized because I say that Egyptian characters could be used that way, when people are used to having Egyptian be mechanical, with reproducible results.  Nobody, especially me, ever denied that on a regular, mundane level, Egyptian is this way.

But, the whole point is that results in the system that I am arguing for are indeed not reproducible without a key outside of the document.  In fact, the whole reason that they can be used this way is because of a key or legend outside the document.  Of course it is not reproducible without a key, because it is abstract.  That is the system.  The key or legend is the document that defines the parameters of the usage of the document outside of the document itself.  It is the thing that gives it shape.  The rules are defined in the mappings.  This is precisely the ancient intent, for it to be abstract, and for a key to be provided with explanations.  This ancient key was provided in some document that contained both repurposed Sensen characters, as well as the text and concepts from the Book of Abraham.  In other words, the ancient Book of Abraham document recycled characters from the Hor Papyrus to be used decoratively and acted as a key for those recycled decorations.

Many apologists were open to William Schryver's explanations, and touted them as revolutionary and game-changing.  Schryver's theory makes the KEP into a modern thing that is a system that does precisely this type of thing too.  It is suggesting an open system of abstractions that are assigned meanings.  It makes the characters in the KEP into a cipher.  My conclusions are similar, as you can see.  It is indeed a type of cipher, if you want to call it that.  However, the difference is that my theory makes this something that happened in ancient times.  An Ancient Egyptian or Egyptians was/were responsible.  The ancients invented it, not a guy in modern times.  This Egyptian person, or Egyptian persons, actually knew the core meaning of Hieroglyphs and hieratics.

So, to summarize, when what I am proposing is that an ancient person created a cipher in ancient times with a key after the same type as William Schryver says that William W. Phelps created.  I am saying that the rediscovery of this ancient cipher and key is found in the KEP translated by Joseph Smith.

I am finding more and more that each LDS author/theorist on the Book of Abraham has a piece of the truth, but lacks key vision of where to go with that truth, if they do not make an assumption of the ancientness of the KEP translations of the Sensen Papyrus their core foundation.  William Schryver is one of them.  He came so close.  But the fact that the KEP is a translation of the ancient intent of the people that did this is what made Brother Schryver miss the mark.  It was an ancient person doing this.  But this ancient person actually knew what he was doing with the languages he was doing his art project with.

This ancient cipher with its key/legend was never meant to be used according to the mechanical Egyptian intent of this document.  This is not using the Sensen papyrus as a mechanical device that produces some result that is reproducible by just having the document itself on its own.   This is not even the regular Egyptian religion, but a local cult of people that transformed all sorts of things in to all kinds of things that they never were in the first place.  That's what Syncretism is: a hodge podge of things that were transformed into things different from what they were in the beginning.  That's what the Greco-Roman Syncretists were doing.  They were not practicing Egyptian religion.  They were doing something of their own invention.  This is entirely about transformation.  The Egyptians were artists, not mechanics, smart enough to make things into things that were transformable.  That's what makes it an art process and a piece of art.  That's what makes it unconventional.  That's what makes it what it is.  Because it is open.  The whole point of my research is to say that this is the usage of the papyrus that yields the results we've been looking for.

And it doesn't matter what other results could result from an open system.  It's the intent of the person that used it for certain things that he used it for that matters, not what other people would use it for.  That's why the KEP is the important thing, because it is precisely because of the abstract nature of the system that you need a legend or need a mapping.  It is precisely because it is an ancient cipher along the same order of what William Schryver was trying to say that a modern person created that it would need a key or legend, except in ancient times.

This thing could never bring consistent results without a key or legend, because it was not meant to bring consistent results on its own.  Abstractions cannot bring anything on their own.  The legend or mapping or key is required for consistent results, because they nail down the abstractions to their actual usage.  That's why Joseph Smith translated the contents of the KEP.  It's the KEP that confines things to a certain scope to see how abstractions mean what they are assigned, and how the abstractions are logical containers for that which is assigned to them.  And by reverse-engineering that, we can see the logic if we want to.

The KEP was never about mechanical, Egyptological Egyptian and never claimed to be.

Brother Schryver said that William W. Phelps or someone like that was creating a system that was hidden and secret, only available for a chosen few, or indeed for one person only.  I say it wasn't a modern person, but an ancient person that is doing this.  And indeed, it would have been something that was a hidden meaning, that could not be seen by the eyes of the uninitiated, but rather than being in a modern setting, this happened in an ancient setting.  By having the cipher key, or a legend, then this type of usage of the document is clear and testable.  By testing the translations/explanations in the key, it can be seen that even though the characters are used abstractly, they are indeed logical containers for the usage in the key.