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Notes Chapter 1 1. For our purposes the polis should be understood as a universal type and not simply a specific Greek institution. It is a territorially confined small system, usually (but not only) a city-state. The polis is oriented primarily to pragmatic questions of life and political negotiations. The defining features of its behavior highlight more protection from the outside world than expansion into it, thus a sense of measure and the absence of a sense of heroic mission or undue grandeur. These features may of course be altered in the course of its history and given favorable circumstances , in which case the polis ceases to be such and becomes the foundation of empire. 2. See Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1993), sec. 30, p. 142. 3. G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 117–19. 4. Norbert Elias, The Loneliness of the Dying, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), pp. 60–62. 5. See The Tibetan Book of the Dead, trans. Francesca Fremantle and Chögyam Trungpa (Boulder, Col.: Shambhala, 1975), esp. pp. 46–47. 6. Jean Bottéro, Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods, trans. Zainab Bahrani and Marc van de Mieroop (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 279. The custom of sacrifice evidently belonged to an earlier, obscure tradition. It was eventually abandoned, unlike other features of pomp in royal funerals. 7. In Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), p. 27. 8. For a more encompassing discussion, see ibid., p. 278. Bottéro observes how different Ishtar’s fate is from later notions of inequality after death, expressed for instance in Egyptian psychostasy or the Christian notion of individual judgment . 9. In Khazal al-Majidi, Al-Din al-Masri (Beirut: Dar al-Jeel, n.d.) p. 209. 109 10. Ibn al-Kharrat, Kitab al-Aqibah, ed. Abi Abdullah M. H. Ismael (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1995), pp. 21–23. 11. Ibid., pp. 298–99. 12. For a good example, see the discussion of the experience of the nomadic “kingdom” of Kinda in pre-Islamic Arabia in Mohammed Bamyeh, The Social Origins of Islam: Mind, Economy, Discourse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), chap. 2. Subsequent discussions here of nomadic poets are elaborated at length throughout that same volume. 13. Jean-Pierre Vernant, MortalsandImmortals:CollectedEssays, ed. Froma Zeitlin (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 79–80. 14. For lengthier discussions, see al-Majidi, Al-Din al-Masri, esp. p. 191. 15. See Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, pp. 21–24. 16. See Jacques Soustelle, Daily Life of the Aztecs on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest, trans. Patrick O’Brian (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1961), p. 107; al-Majidi, Al-Din al- Masri, p. 217. 17. Soustelle, Daily Life of the Aztecs, pp. 52–53. 18. Worshippers of the pre-Columbian rain god Tlaloc must diminish their labor in front of him: “Oh my lord, magician-prince, truly it is to you that the maize belongs.” Reported by Sahagún in the Codex Florentino and cited in ibid., p. 103. 19. The fact that pre-Columbian state societies, such as the Aztecs or the Maya, had cyclic calendars does not seem to me to contradict this observation. For in such cases, the cycles were extended to the equivalent of lifetime blocs or alternatively to the equivalent of the notion of “centuries.” This extension does allow for a notion of progressive time within larger cycles, much as “modern” calendars do. In this sense, regardless of their overplayed cyclicality, notions of time that develop in the age of the state possess a larger scheme of linearity than can be found in conceptions of time prevailing among nonstate peoples. 20. This holds naturally not for everyone who lives in any civilization at any point but more precisely for civilization insofar as it is constructed after the master ’s self-image. 21. It seems to me that this construction directly contradicts Heidegger’s argument that the Nonbeing (Nichtsein) is both a property of Being (Sein) and alien from it—since it is not yet reality (Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, sec. 48, p. 243). Nomadic lore is probably not the only source which shows that the distinction between the two is relative rather than absolute. 22. Nomadic lore teems with examples of statements decrying the contaminating effect upon morals and health of too...


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