Dr. Thoth: The Book of Hours of the Day
9:00 a.m. It was a cold room in which they waited.
Being summer, they had dressed lightly, not expecting the cold breath of air conditioning that had greeted them.
Of course, it may not have been just the cold that made the students shiver.
The desks were arranged into a square. Around forty students eyed each other nervously. Past acquaintances were renewed.
New connections were tenuously formed, as they waited. And waited.
There were benches filled with computers around them. Their blank monitors gaped hungrily. No one had ever seen them used.
At one end of the room lay the monolithic TV. It dominated the room, distracting from any discussion that the mere mortals tried to have in its shadow.
“Isn’t it strange that a writing room would have a TV in it?”
At the other end of the room, someone in a misguided attempt at joviality had placed old promotional posters of books on the wall. Most of them were falling off the wall, creating an unsettling atmosphere of disrepair and neglect.
Perhaps the most curious and disorientating object within the room was the clock. It always depicted the incorrect time---and it always deviated a different amount from the correct time every week, so no one could ever be certain of the time.
It was a common sight to see students glance at the clock, become horrified, check their watches, look at the clock and check their watches again for reassurance.
9:17 a.m. Finally.
Dr. Thoth has arrived.
He bustled in with a box full of miscellaneous papers. Most students had seen him from afar around campus; some had even taken a class with him before.
All stared in fixated horror at him.
Around his neck he wore a purple and yellow polka-dot tie.
One student leant over and whispered to another: “I guess birds really are colour blind.”
Dr. Thoth inclined his head sideways to glare at the offender.
It was going to be an interesting semester.
10:32 a.m. “So is this magic realism or post-modernism?"
“Well…Are the two mutually exclusive?” asked Julie. Julie was in her late forties. She was attending university as a mature-aged student, in an attempt to seize control of her life. She had missed out on going to Uni earlier in her life, because she had been a Good Girl and had done what she had been told to----not that she regretted her life, but she certainly wasn’t going to be told what to do anymore---
especially not to divide Post-Modernism from Magic Realism.
“Yes, why can’t we have a Post-Magic Modern-Realism?” suggested Tom. Tom---in contrast---was fresh out of high school. Tom
attended university because it was expected of him. Though, he did defy his parents by insisting on enrolling in these useless writing courses. This did not have the desired effect and only led his parents to nervously question his sexuality. This annoyed Tom. Not because he was afraid of being seen as gay, but because his parents had pre-empted him in his own questioning and therefore ruined
all the fun in it.
The class fell into a vacuum of thought and all focused intently on Dr. Thoth.
Why can’t we have a combination of the two?
Dr. Thoth sighed as he stroked his hooked, black beak and wished that he’d stayed in Information Technology.
10:58 a.m. “…and that’s due on Friday at 4pm---“Dr. Thoth continued.
The class stared at him as though they were animals caught in the blinding beams of an on-coming car.
Assessment---already? No. It couldn’t be.
“---and offerings may be left outside my door from Thursday,” he finished dryly.
All of his ‘pets’ in the class laughed. The rest couldn’t figure out if he was actually joking.
12:21 p.m. The place on campus to be seen was a little café. At lunchtime, students and teachers alike descended and overflowed from its small dining area. Perhaps some of its popularity was due to its higher class of food---it was the only place on campus that you could be fairly sure of not obtaining food poisoning---unless vending machine food was to your taste.
Dr. Thoth was a regular attendee. He arrived at the same time everyday (a Caesar salad with anchovies), gathered his “groupies” around him---some more slyly referred to them as worshippers---and lectured them about various unseen things within the universe and then disappeared back to his room.
Many students at nearby tables would eavesdrop upon the conversation. Indeed, many students couldn’t help eavesdropping, as his voice---though not loud---managed to slice through all of the surrounding chaotic noise and demand attention.
That was not the only way in which he attracted attention.
It was common to see students reading the local tabloid newspaper---in which one of the city councillors was crowned the ‘Queen of ibis rage’ and described her latest plans to kill and exile the local ibises---slowly lower their newspaper and peer over the edge at Dr. Thoth, search his face to discern how he felt about the whole business and slowly raise the newspaper again, when no answer was forthcoming.
12:46 p.m. “One of the things,” said Dr. Thoth, as he chewed on an anchovy and swallowed. “One of the things, that has disappointed me most, has been the deterioration of astrology into this supermarket-star sign-horoscope nonsense. It had so much promise, especially Horary Astrology back in Lilly’s day.”
He looked directly at those listening, expecting to see them nodding in agreement. Instead he saw only people trying to disguise their confusion.
He sighed. Information Technology. They always loved him in Information Techonology.
“Astrology is not how a planet moves and magically makes us have a bad or good day. It is the investigation of time. Within our society, science has bludgeoned us into seeing time as homogenous (and I apologize, as I am partly responsible for this)---that no moment is any different from another. If you study astrology, you begin to see things quite differently. Each moment has its individual quality that makes it like no other. Astrology is not the narcissistic Jungian navel-gazing that it has become distorted into, but a way of describing the individual characteristics of moments in time. But I must apologize again---John Frawley gives a much more comprehensive explanation in ‘The Real Astrology’.”
This time, everyone was smart enough to nod on cue.
Dr. Thoth had spoken.
2:52 p.m. He fiddled with his blinds, desperate to be distracted. More papers to be marked.
He was currently on another of those stories about writing. ‘The Title of the Story’. How dull.
He thought that when he taught the hermetic laws again next semester, he would not put so much emphasis on “As above, so below”,
as some jokers, like the one who wrote this story, took it a little too seriously and now he had to suffer for it.
And he was tired of people who inserted some ridiculous element into their story in a misguided attempt to make it into a magic realist
piece. He was also sick of those who equated Realism with ‘boring’.
He sighed yet again and sat back down.
Another couple of hours and he could go home.
5:35 p.m. Dr. Thoth placed his keys on the countertop.
Relaxing was a foreign concept to him. TV was out of the question. It only upset and confused him. The schedules, the commercials,
the fragmented narrative…No, he much preferred the internet.
On the internet he mined for data, knowledge and wisdom. He didn’t always find it, but there were no dead ends on the internet---
there was always somewhere else to explore.
He was so intent on consumption, that every night it was a struggle to pull himself away from the computer. He would head to bed
much later than he had intended.
He would watch the cold stars wink at him through his window as he undressed. He squinted. They never seemed to be in the right
2:04 a.m. As Dr. Thoth twists and turns in his bed, we may be curious as to what he dreams about. We can never be sure, but we may hazard a guess or two.
Sandals on hot sand, brothers and sisters in danger of being culled, planets cycling around his head, a never-ending pile of papers to
mark, a labyrinth that has no exit or entrance.
We can never be certain.
7:33 a.m. Dr. Thoth posed in front of the mirror. He sighed for the first time that morning.
He was black and white. How very dull. Dr. Thoth hated being dull.
He searched through his closet. Aha! Perfect.
He jauntily put the tie on and looked again into the mirror. It added just the right amount of colour.
9:00 a.m. Dr. Thoth hurried along the path.
He carried a large box with many papers towards the cold room in which many students waited for him (and who will grow quite fond of his tie).
He was late, but he paused to take in the warm sun.
It was going to be an interesting semester.
Copyright: Jasmine Choinski
Organic Divination for the Urban Jungle
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