THE Ptolemaic dynasty controlled Egypt for almost three centuries (305 – 30 BCE), eventually falling to the Romans. Oddly, while they ruled Egypt they never became Egyptian. Instead, they isolated themselves in the capital city of Alexandria, a city envisioned by Alexander the Great

The city was Greek both in language and practice. There were no marriages with outsiders; brother married sister or uncle married niece. In the end, even the infamous Cleopatra VII remained Macedonian. Except for the first two Ptolemaic pharaohs, Ptolemy I and his son Ptolemy II, most of the family was fairly inept and, in the end, only maintained authority with the assistance of Rome.

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Article by Donald L. Wasson on AHE

All right, book club, shall we come to order?  @jushirosuggestions (who will be late, I’m told. Always with the inconvenient illness, eh, Taicho?), @thegroundsuggestions, @shinshimizusuggestions….

So… our first, somewhat “trippy” chapter of LeGuin’s LATHE OF HEAVEN, starts with a quote from Chuang Tse (also known as Zhuang Zhou, apparently), a 4th century BCE Chinese philosopher, who is apparently known for his “philosophy of skepticism.”  Hopefully when Captain Ukitake is feeling well and can attend us, he can jump in about this particular philosopher.  I admit to knowing very little about him, but so far am unimpressed with his thinking.  

I found the initial quote:

“Confucius and you are both dream, and I who say you are dreams am a dream myself. This is a paradox. Tomorrow a wise man may explain it; that tomorrow will not be for ten thousand generations.”

Deeply unimpressive.  It seems to me he’s basically saying ‘everything is a dream even the idea that everything is a dream is a dream, but I can’t prove it, maybe someone some other time can.’

That’s, frankly, the kind of philosophical mumbo-jumbo that sets my teeth on edge.

Commit to your point or get out, I say. If life is nothing but a dream, then say so and tell me why.  No one of this ridiculous ‘oh only a wiser man than me can prove the thing.’

But, back to the story, the next bit is a bunch of nonsensical, poetic images about a dream about a sea and the land rising up out of it… and then our hero wakes up. There seem to be another series of confusing real/not-real moments until the scene settles (sort of) with our hero in a room where the elevator guard and a doctor talk to him about the drugs he took…which he says he took because he was sick, though it seems from the narrative he means that he was trying to stop dreaming.

At least that’s how I made this initial scene.  Anyone else have a different understanding?

The chapter ends with the doctor/medic apologizing for having to turn our hero into the authorities for ‘borrowing’ other people’s meds from their Pharm Cards. In fact, the medic tries to get our hero to surrender the names of the people he borrowed from, but he refuses to grass out his pals. 

It’s all a very strange set up and you get the sense of a very chaotic world form the things the medic says about how the National Guard is trying to run the subway trains, etc.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Important points I’ve missed?  

I can’t say I found this first chapter to be particularly coherent, so I’ll be curious to hear what others thought of it.


The skeletons of two women who died violently were discovered at Téviec, buried under a “roof” of antlers and decorated with necklaces made of shells
Two skeletons of women between 25 and 35 years of age, dated between -6740 and -5680 BP Mesolithic. They died a violent death, with several head injuries and impacts of arrows. The two bodies were buried with great care in a pit half in the basement rock (underlying or country rock) and half in the kitchen debris that covered them. The tomb is protected by antlers. The grave goods include flint and bone (mainly wild boar) and funeral jewelry which is made of marine shells drilled and assembled into necklaces, bracelets and ankle rings. Some of the bone objects have engraved lines. They were recovered in 1938.

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Ancient Persian engineers made their own freezers that kept ice cold - even during desert summers. By 400 BCE, they’d perfected the ‘yakhchal,’ which which are made of thick, heat-resistant materials with vents that funnel breezes to an underground storage area and push warm air out through the top. Ice brought in during winter was used to make chilled treats in the summer. Source

The entrance to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, 1905
Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built about 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by ‘kerbstones’ engraved with artwork. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice. It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. Newgrange also shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, such as Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland and the Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales.

The world’s largest pyramid is hidden under a hill. Mexico’s Great Pyramid of Cholula, built around 300 BCE, is the largest monument ever constructed, with a volume twice the size of Giza’s Great Pyramid. No one knows who built it or why it was abandoned, but it went undiscovered until locals tried to build an insane asylum on top in 1910. Source