I have a stone that I keep on my desk. It’s about an inch thick, egg-shaped, with a slightly convex top and a flat bottom. Some kind of hard grey matter which appears whiter beneath the chip on one side of the bottom. And also within the lines of the hieroglyphs inscribed upon both sides. I don’t know what these symbols mean but suspect they are Arabic, possibly Egyptian – they are arranged inside rough cartouches. Four on the top and five underneath, one of which is a repetition. The whole thing resembles a scarab and it fits inside my hand the way a mouse does. And, indeed, that’s how I use it. While my right hand is negotiating the cursor on the screen, my left reaches out and clasps this stone, as if with it I might be surfing some other kind of net – the Akashic Records perhaps, or something similarly arcane. I bought this stone in a second hand shop in Bendigo about eight years ago, simply because I liked it. Can’t remember what I paid for it. Have sometimes considered, while teaching, the possibility that I might ask some Egyptian or Arabic speaking student if they could translate for me – but in the end I never have. This because there is something comforting in not knowing certain things. Also because I don’t believe it would explore the ether as well as it does if I knew what the hieroglyphs say. And, finally, then, I would not be able to look speculatively at them and wonder what they mean.
Image: Ancient Egyptian Graffiti writings on Philae temple, about 300 B.C.