The Pyramidal Unconscious

Thousands of workers are moving the sand and stones to reveal a pyramid which will be the last complementary element of the pharaoh’s power before he dies. The River Nile is very busy to carry the ships transporting stones from quarries to the construction of the pyramid. But! One minute! Something happened and a worker suddenly disappeared in a cloud of dust. All the workers are now gathering to find out what has just happened… “Oh! No! He couldn’t make it!” said the chief. “Unfortunately he lost his life under a pyramid stone, but he is now blessed with the other gods’ and the semi-god pharaoh’s sake as he was serving for his country and pharaoh.”

“So, what was his life for?” quietly asked himself a friend of the dead worker by looking at the body. He then continued: “Is it so easy to lose a life for someone else? Who has been in charge for his security? Why are we working here? Is this the only way to serve our native land?” The questions followed other questions without answers. However, questioning made him start reconsidering the whole country and what the pharaoh has been planning so far with his pyramid.

Many start thinking about Ancient Egypt over the pyramids. Their shape inspires not only architecture but also descriptions of hierarchies. However, in this context, a pyramidal shape is thought of as an essential structure for picturing the governing of Ancient Egypt. Then, what about the pharaohs? Are they the absolute power holders of Ancient Egypt?

Yasir Ak, who is an environmental engineer, states that every monarch also needs to be evaluated with his country’s geological conditions in order to catch probable geopolitical aims due to the fact that every pharaoh has a landscape which needs to be governed. He also emphasizes that the relationship between nature and politics is quite obvious in terms of Egypt, after seeing that every action takes place around the River Nile.

OK, let’s go back to our narrative…

After the death of the worker in the construction of the pyramid, people started questioning the order and the pharaoh in small groups. In one of those groups, one suddenly started shouting, “You are all idiots! Can’t you see what the pharaoh is doing? He’s just using us like slaves for his pyramid and he’s not interested in a pyramid at all!” Afterwards, a man with his long white beard moved forward and tried to calm the angry worker down: “Yes!” he said, “Yes, you’re right, I was working for the previous pharaoh’s pyramid and he was not interested in pyramids, too. The only point of erecting a pyramid is to keep us under control and busy with this rubbish mass…”

Burak Erim, who is an historian researching on Ancient Egypt, emphasizes that many pyramids were planned very large and high not only for showing the pharaohs’ force, but also giving the pharaohs extra time to govern the nation. For instance, the construction duration of pharaoh Khufu’s pyramid exactly overlaps the length of his reign.

On the other hand, Furkan Kizmaz, who is a lawyer, claims that there is only one pyramid for Ancient Egypt in terms of political order and it is not a concrete one, but an abstract one. He then clarifies his argument that the pharaohs have maintained their power by creating an imaginary pyramid in their mind and then put the public hierarchically in the pyramid as different classes.

OK! Then what is the role of the pharaohs in governing Ancient Egypt?

The pharaoh was informed about the death in the pyramid construction. He hurriedly went to the construction and called the relatives of the dead worker. After the relatives moved forward, “You are now free to go and will be given extra land to plant forever,” said the pharaoh. He then cut his finger and touched the body with his blood. All the others looked with envious eyes at the relatives and the body. Obviously, the pharaoh was trying to make people avoid thinking bad about himself. However, some of those people who started thinking against the pharaoh got more sure after the pharaoh’s show in the area. “A pharaoh never cares about a worker, there must be something different that the pharaoh is worried about and it is far more important than a worker’s life,” said somebody by shaking his head to himself.

Ali Osman Karaoglu, who is a researcher on politics and religions, states that being the semi-god who contacts the god Ra, directed the people to believe in the pharaohs as the untouchables. He also underlines that not only the semi-god pharaoh, but also the other gods were the actors of the governing system in Ancient Egypt. In other worlds, the system had not only the human as actors, but also the non-human.

Oh! well… It’s getting more clear from now. OK! But what about the other actors?

The pharaoh asked his surgeon general to take care of his finger after returning to the palace. “You know what! The fact of being born as a pharaoh becomes the last thing I could admit sometimes.” said the pharaoh. “Why did you say so, my lord?” said the general. “Why? Are you asking me why? Can’t you see? I’m not the only one controllor of my power! Although I have the power, it is more limited than you could imagine! There are many things that I’m doing just because I have to do and just because the system enforces me to do so,” answered the pharaoh.

Seyit Yunus Yilmaz, who is a researcher on Egypt and human rights, claims that agriculture was also a significant actor in the governing system of Ancient Egypt, as it constituted the major effort to survive. So, when the Nile changed its annual flow, the whole agriculture order was being affected, and the farmers, who occupy the largest part of the population, were starting to think that the pharaoh had problems with the other gods.

In this context, Israfil Kucuk, who is a PhD candidate on mechanical engineering, starts talking about cybernetics in terms of Egypt. He eventually connects the water politics of the pharaohs on the Nile to the governing system. He declares that because the system requires the work of the farmers, pharaohs had to take care of their issues apart from having a palace life.

If so, couldn’t any pharaoh find a way to get rid of the system?

The surgeon general got up because of somebody who were knocking the door very hard. He nervously opened the door. One soldier appeared and said “Sir! We need you to come to the lord’s room immediately!” The general asked “What happened to him?” When the door was opened, the pharaoh had been laying on the bed without moving. One of his wrists was fully filled with his blood. The ones in the room, especially the priests, were thinking of what to do after the pharaoh’s suicide. The head priest then declared his last decision to the everyone in the room: “This is gonna be a secret and the scribes will write that the pharaoh peacefully died in his sleep and went to the Afterlife…”

So what? Then how could we picture the governing system of Ancient Egypt which has never had a pyramidal shape?

Selman CELIK
Goldsmiths, University of London