Ouro em White (1949)

All symbols must have a physical form otherwise they could not enter our experience. This statement is valid regardless of our theory of experiencing. Even the exponents of “Extra-Sensory Perception” who have challenged Locke’s dictum that “the knowledge of the existence of any other thing [besides ourselves and God] we can have only by sensation,” [Nota de rodapé 5: ibid.. Book IV, Ch. 11.] have been obliged to work [26] with physical rather than ethereal forms. But the meaning of a symbol cannot be discovered by mere sensory examination of its physical form. One cannot tell by looking at an x in an algebraic equation what it stands for; one cannot ascertain with the ears alone the symbolic value of the phonetic compound si; one cannot tell merely by weighing a pig how much gold he will exchange for; one cannot tell from the wave length of a color whether it stands for courage or cowardice, “stop” or “go”; nor can one dis- cover the spirit in a fetish by any amount of physical or chemical examination. The meaning of a symbol can be grasped only by non-sensory, symbolic means.(White 1949:25-6)

These events took place about a century before the time of [247] Ikhnaton. During the reign of Amenhotep III, the father of Ikhnaton, one of the High Priests of Amon, Ptahmose by name, was also one of the two grand viziers of the kingdom. Another held the office of chief treasurer. During this reign also the priests of Amon acquired some, if not complete control over the gold produced in the Sudan. In the use of spells used in mortuary rites (hike), the priests “were provided with a means of acquiring wealth and influence which they did not fail to utilize to the utmost.” [Nota de rodapé 18: Glanville, p. 135; Feet, 1926, pp. 202-03.] (White 1949:246-7)

Thus we observe the growing power of the priesthoods. They held the most important offices in the realm next to that of the king himself. To have been chief treasurer of the kingdom must have placed great power in the hands of the High Priests of Amon, a power that was augmented by control over the gold supply from the Sudanese mines. These priests could make and unmake kings. They had but one more step to take: to seize the throne for themselves. Breasted believes that Ikhnaton’s father “had evidently made some attempt to shake off the priestly hand that lay so heavily on the sceptre, for he had succeeded Ptahmose by a vizier who was not a High Priest of Amon.” And Peet feels that “it is not impossible that the increased power of the priesthood . . . was a circumstance which precipitated, if it did not actually cause, the religious revolution of Ikhnaton.” It was upon this stage that Amenhotep IV was thrust at birth. [Nota de rodapé 19: Breasted, 1909, p. 362; Peet, 1926, pp. 202-03.] (White 1949:247)

There is evidence of such a group surrounding young Ikhnaton. Breasted remarks that, idealist and dreamer though he was, “Ikhnaton understood enough of the old policy of the Pharaohs to know that he must hold his party by practical rewards.” Numerous reliefs show Ikhnaton rewarding his followers with gold and honors for their allegiance. Ramose, the Vizier, is shown “loaded with gifts by the Pharaohs, as though in reward for his allegiance.” One relief shows Ikhnaton, his wife and daughter showering gold [262] upon Meryra, who had become High Priest of Aton, “on some occasion when he had been particularly successful in collecting the yearly dues of the temple . . .” “Abundant are the rewards,” Meryra cries upon being installed as High Priest, “which the Aton knows to give when his heart is pleased.” And another one of Ikhnaton’s lieutenants says with disarming frankness: “How prosperous is he who hears thy teaching of life!” [Nota de rodapé 50: ] (White 1949:261-2)

The statues and reliefs, according to Moret, depict Ikhnaton as “a stripling of medium height, with slender bones and delicate modelling” at the time of his ascension to the throne. Later, however, he “became rounded and effeminate—a hermaphrodite figure with prominent breasts, wide hips and thighs too much curved, which makes one suspect a morbid nature, with some pathological flaw.” Sir Marc A. Ruffer speaks of “the pathological obesity” of Ikhnaton, although his face, neck and legs were thin. “Where the king is represented distributing collars of gold,” says this author, “his abdomen actually hangs over the edge of [264] the balcony, a most realistic piece of portraiture.” But in balcony scenes reproduced in Breasted’s A History of Egypt (Fig. 139) and Moret, The Nile and Egyptian Civilization (Fig. 63), and in other works, he is shown as a very slender man indeed. Gardiner says “the portraits represent him with … a deformed emaciated body” (emphasis ours). Thus, the evidence of representations in art is inconsistent and inconclusive. [Nota de rodapé 54: Moret, 1927, p. 319; Ruffer, pp. 168, 170, 336; Gardiner, p. 858.] (White 1949:263-4)

There is evidence aplenty that culture, powered by the mighty forces of Fuel technology, is embarking upon the latter course. The first phase of the second great Cultural Revolution—the Industrial Revolution—has run its course and we are now entered upon the second phase, that of social, political and economic revolution. And, as in the past, war is proving to be an effective means of profound political change. The system of free and individual enterprise in business and commerce is now virtually extinct. The gold standard is merely a memory of an era that is closed. The parliamentary system of government, a device designed to permit the greatest freedom for the growth of industrial and financial enterprise, is practically obsolete also. Private right is no longer significant chiefly as a means of freedom for growth as it was in the early days of commercialism. It now leads toward competitive rivalry, internecine strife, chaos, and paralysis. Concentrations of power without public responsibility among those who own or control vast wealth, or in the ranks of organized labor, are no longer compatible with the degree of unity, integrity and strength that a nation must have if it is to compete successfully with its rivals in the international arena. The exigencies of national survival require the subordination of private right to general welfare, of part to whole. In short, the State, as the integrative and regulative mechanism of civil society, is destined to acquire ever greater power and to wield more and more control. Social evolution is moving inexorably toward higher levels of integration, toward greater concentrations of political power and control. (White 1949:388)

WHITE, Leslie. 1949. The science of culture: a study of man and civilization. New York: Grove Press.