Mervat Nasser’s ‘New Hermopolis’ explores ancient city’s legacy and future

Updated 03 December 2019

Mervat Nasser’s ‘New Hermopolis’ explores ancient city’s legacy and future

  • The book is also the story of the author's own attempt to recover this ancient city through her pioneering New Hermopolis
  • Over the course of four chapters, Mervat Nasser maps the evolution of ancient Hermopolis

CAIRO: In ancient times, the city of Hermopolis (Ashmunin in Arabic and also known as the City of Hermes), on the borders of Upper and Lower Egypt, was a major center of learning and administration.

The fascinating history of this ancient city and its significant contributions to the progression of philosophical thought and humanistic psychology over the ages are at the heart of Egyptian psychiatrist and writer Mervat Nasser’s recently published, highly engaging book “The Path to the New Hermopolis.”

The book — subtitled “The History, Philosophy, & Future of the City of Hermes” — is also the story of Nasser’s own attempt to recover this ancient city through her pioneering New Hermopolis. Founded in 2011, her social enterprise consists of a green farm, a hospitality center (eco-retreat), and a cultural space “for the benefit of both the local community as well as the national and the international visitor.” 

Over the course of four chapters, Nasser maps the evolution of ancient Hermopolis — “the place where being is seen as perpetual becoming, and the knowledge of yesterday is nothing but a well of inspiration for tomorrow.”

She traces the origins, and enduring appeal, of Hermeticism, which she defines as “a philosophical system based on the study of the Hermetica as a way of helping the soul to develop reasonable mind, reasonable speech, and self-knowledge, so we may begin to understand the world and our place in it.”

It is Hermeticism’s legacy as a “Philosophy of Hope” as well as its “emphasis on the unity of humanity,” she writes, that allowed it to influence modern concepts including humanism, idealism, and utopianism.

Despite its weighty subject matter, Nasser’s book is highly accessible to a non-academic audience. For some, it will read as a testimony of how modern intellectual thought essentially finds its roots in ancient philosophy. For others, as a vivid document of an ancient city and its philosophical legacy. I read it as a story of a brave woman who quit a three-decade long career as clinical psychiatrist and academic in the UK to return to her home country to “retrieve the lost soul of Egypt and ... revive the city where it lies.” 


Models Gigi, Bella Hadid walk designer Gaultier’s last fashion show

Jean-Paul Gaultier took his final bow of a 50-year career in the industry at the Paris Fashion Week. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2020

Models Gigi, Bella Hadid walk designer Gaultier’s last fashion show

  • Part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid were among the big names walking his last haute couture runway, the models wearing Gaultier’s latest designs from his Spring 2020 collection

DUBAI: French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier on Wednesday took his final bow of a 50-year career in the industry at the Paris Couture Week.

Part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid were among the big names walking his last haute couture runway, the models wearing Gaultier’s latest designs from his Spring 2020 collection.

Gigi was dressed in a sailor’s outfit featuring a striped bodysuit with white wide-leg trousers and sailor hat. (AFP)

Gigi was dressed in a sailor’s outfit featuring a striped bodysuit with white wide-leg trousers and sailor hat.

Bella wore a strapless peacock-like black dress which the stylists paired with boots and gloves.

Bella wore a strapless peacock-like black dress which the stylists paired with boots and gloves. (AFP)

Gaultier shared a video on his Instagram this week inviting his followers to attend the show and celebrate the end of his half-century career with him. “It is going to be a party with my friends, and we are going to have fun until very, very late.”

He then went on to announce his farewell. “Now I am going to share something with you. This will be my last haute couture show. Be there! You can’t miss this,” he said. “However, stay tuned, Gaultier Paris will go on. The haute couture continues. I have a new concept and I will tell you about it later.”