The Form Body of Norman Akaya


The moon rose over the crust of our earth,  through aions, aeons, eons, into mountains of rock, eroded by ice and wind, water and air into soil, crushed by ancient glaciers, carried down by milky, churning snowmelt, evaporated away by the sun of day, blown into clouds of dust and clouds of rain, descending again in deluges and dripping tips of icicles, cascading in countless cataracts, bridal veils of waterfalls, green pools, rinsing rocks and washing eggs of either fish of fly. The rock egg moon flew spinning in its long intricate pattern of space whirling over the shadows of evergreen trees, high pines among the kings of the vegetable world, along the skyline in serrate edges of the great raggedy green prayer rug, once the sumptuous carpet covering mattoral and littoral, jungle, steppe and valley, lakeside, swamp and river edge, falling and flowing down to the shore of the sea, the green emerging where the water seeped into the soil's embrace and the magnificent plan embodied by the plants mysterious structure within evolved into unfolding, opening shoots and needles, leaves and flowers, absorbing and trans­muting the energy, light and spirit of our nearest star, the Sun.

"0 my son," sang Norman Akaya's mother into the breezes of the early evening, toward the full face of the moon. "With the other eye I see your face too, rising high in the north, gleaming with the brightness of a star." We have measured out our lives in the order of time we imagine to be the strand of mulberry worm or a spider's spinning, the course of a river, a locket of hair—braided and curled intriguingly into the knot of a crown. "And how old are you now, I wonder?" Norman's mother sang in her clear sweet voice, floating out in moonlight like the call of a night bird. Surely a mother should remember, she thought as the words contracted inward, leaving silence in the shadows of wind and the soft sighing of pine and Himalayan cedar trees.

Her own hair fell free, dark and glistening around the pure and pale moonlight whiteness of her face. In this light her lips of cherry, plum or sometimes pomegranate deepened in hue to amethyst, the color, too, of the sari woven out of heavy silk in thick folds wrapped around her, enthroned upon a deep-piled purple cushion, in the center of a mat tightly woven out of fine grass that covered the smoothness of the floor. And yet no shimmering of brocade or embroidery enlivened the richness of textile, for it derived from the intricate ikat dyeing, thread by thread, skein by skein, in the exotic juice of the spiny murex seashell.

The jaws of Rahu, monster of the sky ocean, steathily engulfed the face of the bright mirror moon, like mold on cheese; a fuzzy darkening began along the edge. And as surely the cycle of all the planets and moons, our own mother's body--earth--intercepted that path of light that came from the radiant other-side sun. In the sequence of hours and continuum of colors from silver pale through deepening  mauve, the occluded luminescence of moon allowed the night stars now to sparkle fiercely in the blue black expanse of space, the sea of suns, the ocean of galaxies.

In long anticipation of that precise moment of culmination for the lunar eclipse, the lady in profound dignity, wreathed by an aura of violet, gently bent toward a strange plant that grew at the edge of her pavillion. Taxonomists from the off-white towers of scholarship and science might have identified it as of the Datura genus, and as this one or as that one of the some twenty not always clearly distinct species. The leaves were a dark, waxy green, in scalloped spikes like large shark teeth along their edges, tapering to an arrow point. The flaring trumpet blossoms, glowing white, but edged in violet and veined in gold, exuded their redolence, sweetly noxious and laced with tropane alkaloids. Her soft hand emerged from the thick purple silk like an albino cobra, braceleted in turquoise, gold and coral, and a jade-ringed finger picked a spiny four-part seed pod, colloquially called a thorn-apple by settlers at Jamestown. Each part of the husk peeled back and into her lap spilled a profusion of purple seeds in the shape of miniature hearts. Then a finger from her other hand, the finger with a cinnabar wing carved into the shape of a coiled dragon, and the delicate thumb with a long nail picked out, counting, thirteen purple heart seeds, which slid one-by-one through the amethyst orifice of her lips.

The scopolamine of twilight sleep boiled in her cauldron belly, epiphany of the goddess Toloache.

As the pedantic adventurer, Doctor Monardus had written early in the seventeenth century, effusive with good news from the New World, so too Norman Akaya's mother sent out a message to her son, the one who was her first son, now thirteen years old and sent up north to the mountain fast kingdom of Bhutan to study with what her Hindu friends reckoned were a band of itinerant red monkeys. An astrological consultant warned her of the dangers famed in song and lore and attested to by rare traveler's tales, of the Nagas in the waters and the demons in the caves, not to mention the insidious teachings of the Buddhists which, according to the knotted strands of superstition and belief, proceed without recourse or appeal to theology at all. However, once there passed a Monk in exile from Tibet, who upon receiving abundant rice and the gift of a wooden spoon from the lady of the house, examined the boy. His attention was drawn to the curious formation of Norman's skull, the occipital bone of which gave way, along its upper curve, to a plane facet, reminiscent of skull binding practices or jadeite figurines from the Olmec sites at La Venta on the east coast of Mexico.

At the time her Indian advisors warned the mother, spreading psychic panic from the fears born of heterodoxy. Who indeed was this mendicant, so-called spiritual being to whom she had entrusted the education of her one son at the time of grafting consciousness from the root stock of childhood into budding adolescent being? Even the local Buddhists, well established in their institutionality, had called him a fake, a charlatan and mountebank, but she had let him go. The lean, brown lama pointed out that by Occam's razor, "A fake that is good enough to be true must be true." And when a familial contingent of Indian intellectuals sought to have the bright boy study with them by proposing a curriculum of Euclidean geometry and Cartesian geometry, and the Riemenns and Lobachevskis, the lama countered with the promise of "something new in education, a computational geometry based upon the Weltanschaung or world view of a turtle --which, as set forth by Seymour Papert and the LOGO GROUP at MIT offers children "a very powerful heuristic principle: play turtle, walk out yourself what you want the turtle to do and describe what you did in turtle language," This did convince the Indian astrologer, who identified the turtle with the second incarnation of Vishnu, but he offered the prescription against ever eating any turtle soup, since there could be no more descriptions for the benefit of subsequent humanity if the process involved--even psychically--a self-referential pot au feu.

Such sage advice was bound to be discounted at the usual rate, about 98.6%, for it was explicitly the function of self-reference (as its name is called by logicians) that attracted Norman. Not that all of it was to be distained. What he had learned from his mother were her languages, and the ability to fashion any sort of language to describe what may be experienced. Of course, in its fullness this meant the ability to count, consciously, knowing that however the names for the numbers would be called, a given number or number itself did not participate in precisely the same order of being as the rest of the so-called real world in which, by convention, we live and leave at our death.

Kurt von Meier
July 23, 1982