Norman Akaya and Jose Que's Blue Beamer
Norman Akaya sees himself eye to eye one day while gazing into a crystal mirror. How curious, he wonders, that the image he perceives is quite unlike the image anyone else sees when they look at his face. His right eye blinks, as the image in the mirror seems to blink its left eye. He focuses intently upon that imaginary "left" eye: it is not looking back into his own "real" left eye. No matter how complicated a procedure he invents, nor how fast he opens and closes, now one eye, now the other, he cannot look into his own right eye with his left eye, nor his left with his right. As he relaxes into contemplation of the physical marvel known to students of optics as enantiomorphic symmetry functions, Norman's eyes begin to flutter rapidly back and forth on the horizontal plane of the pupils of his eyes. Thus he generates an image--but this time a different kind of image than the mirror reflection, an image of his own mind's eye--that is neither his face as seen by others that also appears in photographs, nor his own face as he sees it reflected in the mirror, but an image of himself--or better of his self--that is expressed by both the one and the other.
Norman Akaya got the mirror when he was ten years old, on his birthday, from his father, who was then 55. It was a curious object indeed: rather small, it had filled the boy's hand. Now nine years later he could cup it comfortably in his hand. Nine years later, he thought, and he remembered something his father had said about the number nine when the gift was first presented.
"Birthdays are counted by the sun. Once around for the earth, in a year, and another number is added on. But it all depends upon who is counting, and by what conventions. In some parts of Asia, so they say, the baby's first birthday is the day on which he is born. That is the real birthday. So for an infant who was one year old according to the Western way, on the anniversary with a single candle on the cake, they would celebrate in the East as the second occasion on which the young being had breathed sweet air and touched this earth, as marked by the days of the calendar round."
So now Norman, at nineteen, also had an inkling of the number twenty, "Nineteen, going on twenty," is the way we put it. And knowing somewhat more about the physiological processes now than he did when he was ten, Norman understood that the alternate way of counting probably pointed to a time when the energies of Yin and Yang were dancing toward conception.
Norman got his numbers game, and some others as we shall presently see, from his Pappa Akaya, through directly transmitted lineage from the founder and patriarch of the UNZEN sect, one referred to by initiates as Don. Grubb, King of Food Fights. Orthodox believers of many sects and persuasions have found frequent occasions through the millennia to deal with the likes of the UNZEN. In the lore of the Sufi and Dervish, whose practical actions of love and kindness and goodness has left in its tidal wakes myriad sparkling bubbles of ecstasy, joy and fana'--along come what were called the Malamati following the "Path of Blame," that criss-crossed the blossom-strewn Way of the more straight-forward, good-doing, gentle, openhearted, graceful Sufi, pure and clean, clad in white wool, marked smiling-eyed and crowned, so well-known recently and rightly admired by Neo-Sufi, Sufi True and Pseudo-sufi alike, Princes of the Spiritual Path, and the accomplished among them Real Kings, residents among the Bodhisattvas, Companions of the Elect. So too among the severely black‑robed Zenitiati, planely seated at their economical daily board, attracted by the offering of a vision of the void, the empty begging bowl of the holy indigent, who out of the abundance of joy in his heart and a sense of the mischievious play of a child, tosses food for laughs.
"Food for robins, food for wrens," the golden crust of bread sent flying, consigned to the denizens of air, the death to the power of the seed that swoops down on feathers from the sky. Fletcher Arrowsmith, the man's name (or woman's) might be, wandering in the Alcherings, the dream time, bent back, woven, tied in knots in the lineal, time thread tradition of the west. Fletcher, the literary epynomous ancestor of Mr. Christian of Bounty fame, Corliss Archer's animus, Apollo Sauroktonos, impaler of the lizard, ikonic euphemism for the Pythonness at Delphi, the mother serpent there coiled about her eggs, incubating them in a pyramid, pierced by the spear from the air the arrow of Apollo, once a subterranean god of mice and rats, sweetened on the sacred grain of Demeter, dipped perhaps in honey and fed to the oracle, La Delphica, seated upon the sacred Tripos over the serpent's cavern, in the gloom amid the wafting tendrils of smoke from heaps of Bay laurel leaves with their psychotropic essentials borne in billows of smoke from the hearth fire of the shrine, set down marking the geodetic point projected from Thebes, where the arrow landed, so to imagine, if and when shot from the bow of a mighty hunter along the meridian, the south to north great circle from the equator to the pole - as they used to send the passenger pigeons flying, doves of Aphrodite, Noah, Amon Ra.
But Thebes was not the Thebes of the Greeks at the first shot. What we call the Thebes of Egypt before it, the Egyptians knew as a city, sacred to Amon, Aires in the sky (which moved into the place of honor behind the sun at the Vernal Equinox around B.C. 1800: Glory: to the Lamb of God, and bye bye beefsteak sacrificially sliced from the side of the sacred cow-goddess Hawthor, Europalaunch, Taurus, Apis. The four corners of the yearly round were set already in the time of the Bull, the quardature. Just so the Quadrivium of the Middle Aged Western universities, swallowing the stone square tradition of the Roman Cartesian Cardo Cardano in a wheeled cart of war, crossing the decidedly right-angled Decumanus right in front of Headquarters, mileage marker (league and stadium), reviewing stand for the parade.
For whether by torchlight along the Rhine, May Day in Red Square, Mardigras, bedecked in a labyrinth of roses on our first day of the year, "Along the Avenue, Fifth Avenue...," The Fourth of July (which probably corresponds to Lammas, celebrated once around the second of August), Halloween in grammar school where we are to scratch into our brain pans the idea of a circle of light and of lights: Luna by night and the planets and stars, and in its diurnal turn Old Sol overhead at noon, our nearest star: in its once-around of a year, four points are marked: When the sun is as low as it ever appears in the sky and when it is ever as high, and half way in between when the length of the days and the nights are equal. Halved again, there are eight pieces of pie: in February there is Groundhog's Day and Carnival, Mardigras, the beginning of Lent (one-ninth of the year--and nine goes into an ideal 360 of degrees of a circle, a Jordan curve closed upon itself, 40 times, which is why Saint John the Baptist, and Jesus after him retired to the desert, to the domain of inner consciousness for a period of forty days...and why it rained thus upon the Ark; by nines), however, we slice a different pie, or the same pie differently which is to say much the same thing but not precisely, than we slice into eighths. Four cuts are all that is necessary, whereas to get nine slices takes nine cuts...and why settle for nine slices if one makes nine cuts? It can be demonstrated that, according to the practices of trail breakfasts catered by TANTRADINE INTERNATIONAL, slicing the big pancake nine times yeilds 46 pieces. But then, if we are going to make four cuts, there is a foxy way to get eleven pieces.
Notice there are five three-sided pieces, counting the curved edge of the pancake as a side; and five four-sided pieces; and one, the eleventh piece, which has five sides. Now this is the simple, obvious mathematical fact that underlay THE TEACHINGS OF DOG JUAN. The "teachings" are of the old dog school, famed in the song and lore of medieval Tibet, for example; in the accounts of Jetsun Milarepa, the poet, the Cotton-clad pupil of Marpa, wandering with his friend and companion, Rechung, late in the afternoon, along a rocky and dusty road, through an inhospitable village, challenged by mastiffs, circled by pariah and mongrel, the old dog teachings were elevated as a crown upon the head of the Connoisseur of Nettle Tea, born in triumphant compassion through the gamut, focus of eyes behind bolted doors. The old dog walks through doors that are already open.
By the numbers DOG JUAN barked, each time the sword-edged, knife sliced through the TU TU FEIJOAO, a crispy refried frisbee of black beans and rice in baconfat, speckled with conic sections of sausage, a grating of lemon rind, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, Chinese parsley, corriander, one of the oldest of herbs historically documented by botanically identifyable glyphs in the clay tablets of the ancient Fertile Crescent. Dog Juan was just a dog, with a dewclaw but no functional opposed-opposable thumb. And yet, in the possibly mutant brain evolution as related to the functions, thumb-specific, of the neocortex of a line of pooches descended from the bitch DOGZILLA (and Dog Juan is one of her puppies) there seemed to Dog Juan's companion, the stand up comedian who called his name: PROFESSORE, DOTTORE JOSE GODOLPHIN QUE y PORQUE (y PORQUE NO?) the possibility of a multiplex mapping function. "This dog was his companion, no?"
Following the usual line of the "Professor of 'Pataphysics'" perambulatory (he always walked around when he talked) pronouncements (like pompous speeches), or pronuciamentos, (which is a prettier word in the Latinate form) perennially (every year about this time) performed (worked all the way through, to the point of the white light, as the form derives from the same wood root as the gleam) in the lecture (reading) theater (where something is seen, resumably within the disciplines and esthetic constraints of this or that ritual, stand-up comedy, or spieling the tragic line, forensic or edificatory, entertaining and/or/all of the above but not the least educational) of the university (one turn around, the view of the Fool on the Hill, the Taoist sage, the Old Man as wer-ald, et cetry, etc.), the scholarly but ebullient old soul thus spiced his rhapsodies with rhetorical queries of self-reference. OK, seeing that this dog is his companion, then what about this so-called COMPANIONSHIP? Ship you call it, more like a dugout. Why there are old black-clad women in Greece today who will immediately throwup at the merest linguistic reference to ships.
The odd fact seldom escaped the good Dr. Que. COM - PANY, he would say aloud to himself and his dog. Con pane, with bread. Viva la compagnie! Hooray for those who gather together to break bread with each other, for we are the children of Vesta, one of the oldest of the goddesses on this earth. Queen of the oven, the kiln, the hearth contained and warmer than womb, baking gingerbread cookies in the forest, chocolate chip in town. Sobhat is the exercise of companionship practiced by those who hang out at times like old dogs at the feet of the wise fools. One of the derived forms of the Arabic triliteral root S H B means both to have a companion and for a beast to become submissive, or eventually domesticated: shab. This is the way dogs and men worked it out some fifty or sixty thousand years ago, well before the principle of grinding the grain into flour for the making of bread became a well-bruited secret. Leaving bones behind for the pack of wild dogs went on in times distant enough to be lost in the haze of the paleolithic golden age, when there were two million human beings on the face of the earth, and people had to spend about two hours a day to provide for their needs. But when the meat got lean and a piece of the pancake was tossed to the hound, companionship was formed.
So Jose Que received the teachings of the number game from the barking dog, as he sliced the pancake. With six cuts, and all the beauty and elegance of Tipareth, 22 pieces and no more can be cut,. as can be seen by generating the number sequence related to central polygons, of the general form N(N-1)/2 + 1. And with nine cuts, forty-six pieces--that is thirty-seven more pieces than you get by taking nine radial slices from the center, although some of the pieces will be smaller, of course, so small as to be just a nibble, or to be thrown to the dog.
There exists a file folder in the library of Jose Que, the 'Pataphysician, entitled THE BARKING DOG.
The human, the hound, the hawk and the horse: a quadrature for hunting. A woven net to hold the prize, suspended safely from a tree limb, unfurled and stretched across the stream for fish. The cord twilled and braided, doubtless first of bangs and ponytails. Odin plucked three hairs from the Night Mare's tail (Demeter again, ergot on the grain), which he braided, and braided trine again. No one has ever written the early history of rope. Almost all the knots that can be tied have always been tied, so far as anyone can remember. And as the string tied around the pinkie marks us as devotees of Memnosyne, the Muse of Memory, so too in the earliest artifacts to joggle recall, whether from the knotted cords of China or the quipu from Peru, it is a question of lines and knots and crosses, mental macrame.
Norman Akaya grasped the tale of clew. His alertness furtively followed the discourse of is uncle Jose, whose voice purred in the weaving of this fabulous account of the lineage and teachings in a tone harmonic with the 3600 r.p.m. of the engine in the Aksobya blue BMW 2002. They were headed west once again, across the well-watered bread basket of California's Central Valley. Don Jose, as Norman sometimes called him, fed him clues for his current round of PSYCHOTAG. Jose himself was thought to run an army of artistic characters in the game, but there was only Norman beside him now in the car. On the road was the only time Jose actively played. His performances as lecturer in Sacramento was singing for his supper, bread and butter, periodic visits to the Planet of Lost Historians, with service to the Society for Publishing Lost (LOOSE, LITERATE LEAVES) Art Treasures (SPLAT), and that for Publishing Art Manuscripts (SPAM). While some seventy-seven miles away at Rancho Bar-A-Kath, life was largely a piece of cake, embraced by the coiling tendrils of Dionysiac vine, drenched in the juice opulent of wines.
But it was on the road that Jose Que worked for his money. There, emeritus or not, his actions and those of all the other travelers entailed consequences in the immediate. Jose rode what was once the Ultimate Driving Machine, lightweight, responsive, amply powered, well-braked, the classic 2002; with some internal modifications, because a logical sixty miles an hour meant a nice harmonic of 3600 r.p.m. A mile a minute was Jose's game, his little edge on strict conformity with the state speed limit, a patronising 55. It was a profound understanding of the quintessence, the whole of it viewed in its five-partness, a vision of the Big Five Dhyani or Samboghakaya Buddhas, following the game of basketball with five on a side, a wave of the open hand, low five, high five, a las cinco de la tarde of Garcia Lorca and the correo of Sancho Ignasio Mejias... the fives fulfilled and in the Heirophant, Major Arcanum number V, revelation, an opening of the three centers of Body, Speech and Mind, the Kath, the Oth and Path.
Whenever black and white Imperial Star Cruisers spotted The Blue Dorje, as he tagged his short, the Man, Big John of English village green, the chippie wheelie referees never clocked him over a safe and sane 55, conserving fuel. And so to hit an average sixty, harmonious cosmically, with the seconds in a minute, minutes in hours, degrees in isosceles triangles, he sometimes had to punch out at eighty on the stretches.
Appropriately enough for the color of his car, he ran to mark best when coming from out of the east. That would be the ride from the state capital to the heart of the wine country, Pleasure Rancho. Norman, dozing in the death seat received the oral transmission, a spinning of yarns, a mustering of mental meta-maps, an assemblage of arrays: branching trees, imprinted ikons, flashing scoreboards, three formal grammars laid out as the base vertices of a tetrahedron in which the peak vertex corresponded to a grammar of planning and command, the neocortical function physiologically located and fit out for feasting via feedback and feed forward loops of reference, remembering, and research, slow-sizzling bacon in the cast iron pan, the aroma, bouquet, reek and odor of a Madeleine, retrieval of the memories stored in peripheral nerves, programmed into distal musculature, embodied in his bones and reciprocating in the netted nodes of lymph, and, recaptured, reintegrated with consciousness, divined from the dredging in dream and meditation, reforged in the gleam of the form that sparkles in the heart of creativity (as GoetherFaustvater schreibt in 1763, or was it Vom deutscher Baukunst of a near but another date?) "creation" in the modern sense, as but a Samsaric analog to the Great Work of Creation, thus Erwin von Steinbach and the architectural facade, the plan and tower of Strassburg Cathedral: in their way the Labyrinth and Pyramid of Egypt, abyss and pinnacle, whirlpool and rock, a token for the void and a token for the form.
60 miles an hour, 3600 r.p.m , it was for the benefit of the boy. In America the standard electrical current is sixty cycles per second. Per second what? What if a first?
Well now, the first is the point. That's right. You pick the spot on the earth on which you will mark time. Now if you busy marking off space, which it take time to do, then it turns out to be considerably more complicated a matter to be marking time as well, like not only walking and chewing gum, but trying to whistle Dixie and tie your shoe at the same time as the above. Whatever space and time may mean, place and occasion mean more, according to one of the brighter of the van Eyck children. The place was al-Equador, maybe along the banks of the headwaters of the Nile, to the east of Lake Kivu, on the same meridian as the Lighthouse and library of the city on the western tip of the delta later called Alexandria. A sighting tube, plumb vertical, at high noon, probably on the Vernal, but as well parity-checked with an observation on the Autumnal Equinox, with the sun perpendicular, cast no shadow, just as in the geodetic observatories in temples to the north, at Syene, on the Island of Elephantine.
And then having marked the first spot, one waits a while, travelling west along the equator, until the sun is overhead where the other guy has his sighting tube set up, and again no shadow is cast, just as straight in the tube although a little later in the day. A time-factored, earth commensurate standard unit of measure, demonstrated by the building, siting, orientation, proportioning of every ancient monument, every sacred site where the juice flowed thorough the dragon veins of earth. And then the second length was marked off, measured for fit to the first, the first having been chosen so that just so many of them would fit into a full spin, once around of the Old Man World. How many seconds in a day? 60 in a minute, times sixty is 3600 an hour (sixty times slower than the Beamer at sixty miles an hour), times 24 hours in a day is 86400. "Drop the zeros," Jose observed for Norman's tutored good, "and we have 864, which is double 432, the year in which Saint Patrick, redeemed from slavery is said to have chastised the practice of Kundalini among the Celtic Christians who were to follow the way of the Dove, Columba, Paraclete, bird of Amon and the temple in the oasis of Siwa, from which doves were sent on flights to establish and confirm the longitudinal meridian, the same that are carved on omphaloi, and hieroglyphs of MAAT.
Norman hit the buttons on the Blue Beamer's Blaupunkt. Don Jose had them set: the red line rested in the middle of the dial, at 1111 kilocycles, KWIM, AM and FM. From the stereo speakers on either side of the headrests of the Recaro seats came the Zydeco upbeat fiddle strains of Matt Wells and His Bayou Buddies backing up Diana Flowers singing her cover version of Sue Thompson 's hit on the old Hickory label; it was his tune, "Norman."
"All the real truths are in the tunes, m'boy," uncle Jose offered.
Norman marked the mileage on the odoracle as the frame of the Lesser Vehicle floatingly rose over the freeway bridge somewhere around Vacaville, passing a natty motel sign composed of nine strips of neon in a drive-through rainbow arch off to the side. The digits had spun to 25,920. How many times this was around few could have guessed from looking at the outside of the car. Don Jose had driven back and forth for nineteen years and was now in line for his third sabbatical leave--the third if you count his half-shot, semi-quickie, budget-cut vacation six years ago as a full sabbatical. Winding it up on the often wended way. It had only taken Bodhidharma nineteen years to attain enlightened consciousness--but then he spent most of his time staring at a blank wall, that is to say, practicing without major distractions. Whereas, Tuesday by Thursday, twice a week, both directions (hin and zuruck) seventy-seven miles each way for now nigh onto nineteen years, Don Jose Que, the Professor, babysitting tutor, guide and spiritual friend for his nephew, piloted the wheeled cerulean lightening bolt westward on I 80. "Flying with the wings of Mercury, Hg 80," Jose cited the periodic table of elements, the liquid metal mercury heavy toxin, mirror backing, logged in at atomic number 80. He glanced into the rear-view mirror, on guard for a red flash from the energy of Amitabha, co-opted by the highway patrol. "Red behind means stay in line, while red ahead is right at night." They sailed past the pink sign of Mr. Ed's, halfway in the commute. At eighty miles an hour the car floated on its Phoenix tires. Amitabhi was the Lord of the Red Light, properly positioned in the west, in the direction of the ball of the setting sun towards which the Beamer grille now puckered. "If It comes up behind, it's time to pay mind."
80 on I-80. Jose began to recount the story of the death of the Buddha, the weathered and widely wandered former Prince of Kapila who visited his uncle, a bellowing man with blackened hands from the smoke of the fire and forge. When he was eighty and ready to cross over from the physical form into the flow of the riverrun Ginnandgo Gap the Tibetan called the Bardo, being not entirely of this world, but the fluttering of consciousness between death and (re)birth, Gautama, the Buddha chose a dish of pig meat from the menu at his uncle's board. The sweet succulent flesh of swine, taboo like most red food for the Semites, stringently restricted in its consumption by the priests of Osiris along the Nile banks in Egypt (for the swine were rooting coprophiliacs when the flood waters lifted corpses from their graves in the black earth of Al-Misr), pork chops with mushrooms, was the featured item.
"...in the middle of the sixth century B.C., he was making his way with his followers, talking and preaching as he went, through the kingdom of Magadha, the present state of Bihar, and had paused for the night at a place called Pava, like Pava's Cafe on K street in Sakamenna. Well, naturally, no matter how soft and gentle-like the Bood come in to the place, it gotta be for the first part impossible to slip in quiet, you understand, because here come all the wazza-doo players and the gong-dongers, and the rabadee tooters, and all the reed-heads, and the flute-heads, and the flip-heads, and all the other kind of heads blowing and wailing up great, wide, swinging musical accompaniment, cats coming in from all around to pick up on the lick, a good seventy nine per cent of all the dogs in the neighborhood (calculating twenty-one percent tied up on ropes at any given time) plus which we gotta add in the substantial circus of little kids kicking dust some thirty, forty feet in the air. It was just like that when the double door of Chunda's Double Cross Saloon swang open and the pine board floor felt the soft foot lads of the wizened wayfarer wasting away. Chunda wiped his hands on a sooty towel and bade the Buddha sit on his honcho seat, some sort of country style version of the vision of a Celestial Throne. Like it wasn't easy for anyone to pull it off unobtrusively."
"What's cooking?" came the question.
"Heh, heh, heh, now that's right. Just listen to the way that sentient being lay it right down, for being straightaway awares that he come to the fire pit, baby, because without the blaze it ain't no kitchen anyway, and you ain't gonna come up with first part of cuisine. Well, now, the man want's to know what's cooking, and wouldn't you know that early in the morning, up before the first direct rays of the rising sun shot arrow-like from the roseate horizon, not one, but two special items were laid out on the block of wood in the patio: a squealing porker caught in the forest cover of pine needles, and a basket full of the star-spangled, red-topped mushroom fruiting bodies it was after. Fresh today, but lovingly prepared in the time-honored way according to the secret family recipe: PUERCOCHAMPIGNON."
Jose Que spun off another thread of his tutelary discourse, an excursis on the sanctity of swineflesh: how (as it will be found most characteristics of taboos) the consumption of pork was not at all forbidden to all people all of the time. Everyone in Egypt ate the pig on the festival days of Osiris, just as the secular citizens who observed the parade of initiates on their way to Eleusis, traversing the fields of grain plowed and planted by Triptolemus, enobled with claviceps purpurea, also savored the aroma of roasting pork.
There was a lingering scent of onions in Norman's nose, from having just passed by the warehouse in Vacaville. Perhaps some pork chops or big order of ribs was coming on the griddle at Mr. Ed's. He smelled his uncle's story as it wound and wove the warp and weft or woof of waking consciousness transpiring in sleep, strapped into the state of the art Recaro, gran turismo, warmed and stereoed, pneumatic reclining seat, the co-pilot/navigator's chair in RDORJE 2002, his uncle Don Jose's swift BMW motorcar. Norman's olfactory sense collected greedily the wafted flavors he could taste with a tongue of imagination, riding in the death seat hitting eighty, in order to average sixty per, a mile a minute, his uncle's rally-programmed PSYCHO-TAG game speed. Norman's medulla oblongata of the archaeocortex took over control through the transmitting function of the olfactory lobes.
Like the Buddha, he too would die.
Not at eighty years of age, but at nineteen. This is the story of Number Nineteen, Norman Akaya. In one of the ways in which the eternal Book of God has been set down into the marked state for the benefit and guidance of ordinary people here on earth in this human form, the number nineteen appears s a cardinal mark, on one of the leaves of the Book of God, the Holy Tarot, sometimes called a pack of wicked cards although as we all know, the playing cards of the modern bridge, poker, fish or canasta deck,(pinochle, pan, gin, skat), and Seven card Dr. Pepper (tens, twos and fours are wild) Anaconda (when everybody gets their cards, they pass 1st three to the left, 2nd two across the table, and 3rd one to the right to improve their hand before selecting from the seven cards those five they hold for the final rounds of poker betting). Stud playing cards all originally derive from specifically numbered and individually named throws of a die.
Or, dice, if two. Or, if three.
For there are fifty-six, and only fifty-six possible combinations when throwing three cubic dice, each of which must be able to be distinguished from the others if this true count of the probabilities is to be obvious.
"But, ah! Now isn't that just the game?" Don Jose Que, in the driver's seat, tuned in to station KWIM, in the swim, joined Norman in the seashore rhythmic waves of breath, surf tumbling air into his lungs and exhaling in bubbled foam upon the sand, asleep at the wheel.
The myriad wheels of Jose's associative mind coalesced into a vision of the Big Roulette Round in the Sky. For with two dies--or dice--the combinatorics determined 36 possibilities. No more, but also no less. Whereas, when one cast dice so fashioned as to be nearly identical, perfect cubes, equally weighted, of balanced mass, on an even surface of green felt over slate, one could only read 21 different combinations. It was only when the two dice were distinguishable from each other that one saw the full set: the ace of the black pip on the white die wss not the same ace of the white pip on the black die.
The matching of the dice in mutual imitation served to engender a secret among those who had abdicated their capacities to count or forfeited discriminating wisdom. But it was all the same a secret openly bruited, available for all to see, demonstrable for all those with the patience to collect a big bag of different color dice and group them like dominoes into all possible combinations, die by die, pair by pair, three by three. There are fifty-six ways with three different dice, in this or in any other universe that can be counted. This is not a matter of opinion, a belief or a conjecture, a theory or fancy, whim, impression, thought or supposition. It is what we call a fact, just exactly what the case happens to be, in accordance with reality, repeatable, confirmable, demonstrable, over and again always to come out the same, never to be otherwise...not if the count is right---but only assuming, of course, that we are in an order of being in which, having imagined ourselves to be distinct in the first place from the eternal void, we have continued to draw distinctions so as to have generated an order of complexity sufficient for us to be able to construct a calculus in such a way as to be able to count--which is to say IN ANY UNIVERSE sufficiently complex to represent algebraic functions (with a variable function) and to have generated the linear algebra we know by the name of the natural numbers, there will also be precisely 36 combinations with two dice. These are the thirty-six integers painted on the wheel of the casino roulette. What gives the house a statistical window is the green ZERO, the thirty-seventh possible pitlet into which the marble might tumble.
As must be plain, the double zero and triple zeros simply increase the odds in favor of the house's take. Just like cards, the roulette wheel also derives from the casting of lots, the calculi (little stones) or astragaloi (cubic knuckle bones of sheep, tended by Hermes, the calculator, Kulturtrager, messenger, teacher, shepherd, lier, god of merchant thieves).
But here is what happened, or must have happened. The fifty-six possible throws with three dice were divided into red and black (as they show up on the wheel and in the suits), and again into major and minor, forming four suits of fourteen cards each. In the Renaissance, there were four court cards in each suit, but one dropped out in each for the fifty-two cards of the modern deck, thirteen per suit. However, the twenty-one possibilities castable with two indistinguishable dice were retained for mapping onto cards. Thus, there was a considerable statistical difference between the apparent 21 and the real 36 possible combinations. Perhaps this was meant to be read in the sense that the fifty-six states of consciousness were all available to ordinary people, experienced karmically, in the so‑called real world of Samsara, as the consequence of action in the conventional world of a space/time continuum, and thus were tokened by casting unique dice.
Whereas the states indicated by the combinations of two dice cast together could be understood as being the same for all human beings, as steps along the Inner Way, and hence not to be distinguished, the one die from the other any more than the death of one human being from another upon the entry into the Bardo state, not the one human birth from the other upon the descent of the ether of All-consciousness into material manifestation again.
The 56 plus the 21, make up the 77 cards of the traditional Tarot, short one card, the most important card of all, the Joker in the deck, le Mat, the zeroine Fool, unmarked by number or ambiguously labeled 0 or XXII in different decks. The Fool indicates the die: FOOLS DIE, the six-sided cube, the shape of the temple sanctum sanctorum, imaginable inside all our skulls, just as it was built, historically, at least at one place and on one occasion, out of solid stone, to fine measure and wide renown. By understanding that the Fool card indicates the form of the game itself, it is possible to see the game in its clarity, stripped of cultural obscurantism.
Kurt von Meier