SERPENT IN THE SKY: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt by John Anthony West

SERPENT IN THE SKY: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Egyptology for (very) serious amateurs. West himself is a gifted English amateur who has synthesized the work of the late R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, an Alsatian ""philosopher, Orientalist, and mathematician"", and, since de Lubicz' colleagues paid him little heed, West now presents his case to the public. The case itself is a mix of sober scientific argument and eccentric speculation which would take a small army of experts to sort out. De Lubicz claimed that the scholarly community had radically underestimated Egyptian art and science. More ambitiously, he insisted that all of Egyptian civilization forms a ""gigantic, consciously organized symbol,"" uniting heaven and earth, religion and science, reason and intuition. Finally, in a grand imaginative loop-the-loop, he tried to prove, largely on the basis of supposed signs of water erosion on the Sphinx and its nearby temple, that: a) Egyptian culture was thousands of years older than most scholars think; and b) it never developed, but was passed on ready-made and complete to the Egyptians from. . . Atlantis. Some of de Lubicz' theories, such as his reading of the Temple of Luxor as a vast metaphorical version of the human body, could be tested by any fair-minded archaeologist with a few simple instruments. His mystical flights into numerology, while fascinating and intellectually respectable, would be impossible to verify (or falsify?). The Atlantis hypothesis can probably be rejected out of hand. Behind all de Lubicz' arguments is a passionate faith in ancient Egypt as a healthy, harmonious, and religiously integrated world--as opposed to the sickness and confusion of modern culture--and West preaches this faith with prophetic force and considerable intelligence. A provocative book, highly curious and slightly crazy.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1979
ISBN: 0835606910
Publisher: Harper & Row