The True Story of Tantradine International
Norman Akaya, with his uncle driving, wheeled their way west on Interstate 80 right into the light of the setting sun. Somewhere around Vacaville, in the State of California, in the eyes of both the man and the boy, the appearance of the radiant disc squashed, bulbously distending its blazing circumference into a lateral oblateness as the atmosphere of the earth, our mother planet, bent the rays of its nearest star into the longer wavelengths of the spectrum.
The blazing clarity of day then cooled through the range of yellows: mustard from lemon, banana-skin saffron into orange, as what in reality was a continuum played across the array of mental associations in the imaginary minds of the voyagers, transfixed as a fog bank embraced the oak trees and all-dark-green-now distant arroyos, and violet outcroppings of rocks along the skyline of the hills, entering the shadow of the fog and the evening, swept in by the wind from the west that blew through the Golden Gate, by Benecia, past Petaluma, over the Mayacamas, the wind that came from the Pacific Ocean bringing fog and sea-moisture and coolness with the night into the firestorm furnace of the Central Valley, scorched in the bright day, baking earth in long shadow now, and the blond designs of meadows turned to camelshair, a patchy, spotted, rumpled cloak tossed the earth, over which wisped the fog and the ocean wind, waving and shimmering the air above the grass and the ground, a quivvering and buffeted billowing translucent column: a visualized water fountain bubbling, and bobbing atop which balanced The Great Pumpkin.
Now you know how it is when someone finally says something after you're driving along nice and quiet, spaced out on the great glorious beauty of it all, smooth and mellow behind the 3,600 r.p.m. purr of the en-gyne... say tooling along at a smooth and more or less legal sixty, neatly a mile a minute--so as, among other things to tap into the cosmic harmonic frequencies of sixtydom, SOSS at Sumer (and who among us yet has not sampled the nearly world famous Sauce of Sumer, famed otherwise in song and lore as La Belle Sauce Sumerienne in La Cuisine Imaginere, or more colloquially "summersauce"?), sixty of the number sequence 2311 (as an example of a friendly beginning, in the spirit--sixty of the cycles.
Norman Akaya's uncle Jose Que pressed his toe down and the r.p.m.s surged: 4,000 at seventy that used to be the limit. At 72 miles per hour a cloud cut across the reddening sun like a turban tied from a pimento turkish towel. Norman grasped the clew of memory and imagination and began to tie a great knot about the void, a knot that in the sequencing of strands became now gnarled, entangled, snarled cord, and again pristinely clear in the essentiality of cross and intertwine. Jose called out the speed, "Mark 72!"
In 72 years, Norman recalled from his uncle's lecture, the sun precesses one degree of arc: 50 seconds of arc in one year of one's lifetime. And the period of one's lifetime was reckoned at 72: called an aion, or eon, as the span of time measured out by Lachesis, Fate of the Apportionment. Some, like Rimbaud, Mozart, and Etienne Galois died young. Others, like Gautama, rounded out a full span of 80 years. 80: the glyph itself was composed of two ways of representing the infinite, as the eternal spirit of consciousness sometimes crosses us in this present material form, and sometimes just flows all around us whether we know it or not.
"Mark 75," Que called. The seventy-fifth, the diamond anniversary, Diamond Jubilee. The 75th radical character in the grammar books of Chinese scholars two millenia ago listed Number 75 (as Rose-Innes does still) as TREE, and the character is drawn with six points: closely resembling a schematic representation of the VAJRA (in Sanscrit) or rDorje (in Tibetan) symbolic form of the lightning bolt or diamond--as Poseidon was once a god of the mountains and bore lightning bolts which later become the trident in the salt sea, whereas Zeus, a god of the air and sky, retained his as the arrows of electricity. Fools blasted diamonds to smithereens with the numb-skull hammers of skeptical superstition, but the token of the diamond-like, indestructible vision of the void, eternal, in all of us and in everything--one without second--remained as it remains still: not of space as we experience it except in the deepest moments of our being, but in a moment not yet of any time. The sign of the tree marks the king of the vegetables as a token of duration, although that is just our way of seeing it in a world we imagine to be spun from time as the weaver's skein from a spindlewhorl.
"77 Sunset Strip." The nose of the BMW began to rise. "78 Tarocchi, 79 Atomic Number Aureum, gold as the light in the sky." And as Jose Que nudged 80, he broke into a ditty:
The sun's as red as a Turkoman's head
Sizzzzling in the stewpot--
We've tied his hair all around with a flair
Twissssting it into a new knot.
In the next moment of our story, also set in imaginary time, something happens to Uncle Jose Que and his nephew Norman Akaya--but so swift is it and extraordinary, that they have no time in which to reconcile their thoughts and attachments to this world of the lesser plane. A catapult, slingshot, tap door, ejection seat, quick release, escape hatch apotheosis out of body quavering in oscillation on the parameters of life and death, gravity and grace.
As their spirits are assumed in a swirl of colored lights, fragments of dangling dialogue, facets of imperfect visions are released from the dual presence of waking, sleeping, remembering and dreaming mind. Finnegan falls again from his hod tower, Babel tumbles, Adam bids a fiery angel adieu, the Fool and his cargo go over the edge into the abyssal crocodile maw.
Que was counting by the numbers, which are neither of space nor of time as we conventionally believe, and so we hear of the numbers in his life and imagination. Norman was iconically enrapt in tying a visionary knot, and so it is his journey through the Bardo, across the Great Waters, Joyce's ginnandgo gap, over the rainbow that we are more easily able to follow, like a sutram, a clew, a ball of twine read as a Gaussian continuum to Jose's integers algebraically articulated.
As a convenient way to proceed, let us describe the changing circumstances of these two characters with reference to transformations of the container, the BMW, their former material context, the attributes, memories and sense perceptions which are at first intimate and immediate, and then begin to fade, mingling with older rememberances and fantasies. The car becomes a spaceship hurtling through a galaxy of consciousness, bouncing off the brilliance of multiple star systems, evading the giant squid's embrace of black holes. One of the keys is the color blue and the corresponding Samboghakaya form of the visualized Buddha in traditional Tibetan Vajrayana teachings. AKSOBYA is associated with the east, radiant blue light, and much else besides, including the ritual object known as the VAJRA or rDORJE, the diamond, lightning bolt, the adamantine, indestructible quality of meditation--also represented by a continuous never-ending knot. It is the peculiar and explicit form of this knot tied in such a way that it is known to sailors as the Turk's-head that the path of Norman's consciousness follows.
The Turk's-head is a very beautiful and complex knot that can be tied around a lead weight or a ring as on a hawser, or it can be tied with an empty center with any number of sides--from three up--fronting its interior. Norman ties a nine-sided knot, nine being a number, Jose Que sez, for humanity.
The turk's head knot may be defined as "a complex of like interfacing circles so united as to form a single line, and whose centers are the angles of a regular polygon of 3, 4, 5 or of any convenient number of sides." This definition comes from a wonderful little book, Knots, Useful and Ornamental, by George Russell Shaw (Bonanza Books edition, c. 1924, 1933 by arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Co.). Mr. Shaw shows us how to tie the knot with step by step indications and clear illustrations. There is the turk's head with a triangular center, composed of two or four strands; that with a quadrangular center is tied with three strands; that with a pentangular center may be tied with either three or four strands. The Turk's-head may also be employed as a stopper knot, or tied so as to function as a button. One diagram shows three forms of the Turk's-head with the same heptagonal center, made up of either three, four or five strands.
We read, in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (ed. 1975), in many respects an even more wonderful book then Knots, the definition under Turk's-head: "noun Nautical, a turban-shaped knot made by winding a smaller rope around a larger one," And an illustration of such a particular application of a simple form of the knot is provided in the margin.. Shaw has employed a convention of showing his knots tied around a wooden pole or post. In addition, he shows us how to tie the pentagonal Turk's-head of three strands on the hand. It is clear that in practical use, the Turk's-head knot may be tied around a flashlight as well--or, for that matter around a can of dog food. Moreover, although it is difficult but not impossible to imagine a situation in which we should want to do this, a Turk's-head, turban-shaped knot could obviously be made by winding a larger rope around a smaller one. In no way would the resulting knot vitiate Shaw's indications for the demonstration, although it would provide us with a perplexing counterexample of the verbal definition, were we to trust the sense of the words alone without the experience of actually tying the knot, or at least imagining how it could be tied.
As suggested by Shaw, by applying the principles he illustrates conveniently one step after the other, we will be able to tie a Turk's-head knot based upon a nine-sided central figure. Inside does not have to be a larger rope, the authority of William Morris, Editor of the American Heritage Dictionary notwithstanding. Indeed (in the performance of the actual deed), the truth of the matter is that the Turk's-head knot may be tied around nothing whatsoever--or, should we persist in assigning attributes and qualities to or even names to a State utterly devoid of any and all qualities whatsoever, we might say that we tie the knot around the void. But around the knot must go. If not, then it is not the knot.
There are many ways to tie a turban. We may be reminded while watching old movies, made when most men in America wore hats, that the male head covering is but the vestigial secular, popular remnant of the religious or royal crown. And as any kid knows, in a cowboy movie without hats in the wardrobe, you couldn't tell the bad guys from the good.
Harry Truman, the failed haberdasher, twice intentional A-bomber of enemy test subjects, said to have been a Freemason believing that the only secret was that there was a secret--not because of him did gentlemen in America stop wearing hats. It was John F. Kennedy and that lovely shock of sexy hair, windblown, unhatted, uncrowned and free (some say the most dangerous word in social discourse),
THE FAMILY TIE
Norman Akaya's mother was the sister of Jose Que. While the family was living in Barcelona, she met and fell in love with a gentleman Japanese tourist whose name was called Akaya-san, Papa Akaya or "Sambo" Akaya. The left the city, in love, headed north. Sambo Akaya and his bride, Carmen née Que, joined themselves in the troubador's ceremony of the heart which they celebrated in the town of Albi on the way north from Barcelona.
On that same day Jose left the family's Catalonian encampment, setting sail to the south) retracing some of the paths of Columbus. Jose came to the Cartibbean, Haiti, Panama. He also crisscrossed the paths of Balboa, Governor of Darien, retrod the march of Cortez, passed some time with the Tarahumaras in the Sierra Madre Occidental, visited the Hopi nation, and arrived in the nineteen sixties at UCLA. There he achieved a modest renown among the intelligensia and avant garde artists for his contributions to the development of radical theater. And while there too, he received word via a post card from his sister that she had given birth to a baby boy. Akaya and Carmen called him Norman, since he was conceived in Normandy, underneath an apple tree, at a time recorded by Robert Graves in The White Goddess , p.260, on the banks of the river called Vie, in the region called Calvados du Pays d'Auge as the appellation of its Cidres provenant de pommes, in the exact location where the Greenwich Meridian crosses.
This happens to be the same latitude of St. Lo, famed in crossword puzzles, to the west, and the John Cage Mycophiliac's Grove in the Forest of Chantilly to the east. When Norman was conceived, they went due east into the light of the next rising sun in Sambo Akaya's British racing green Lotus, and spent an indeterminate time among the mushrooms of the forest and the cherry trees of Pont Point. The first Birth-Bardo messages from Norman to his future parents epiphanized in a little old stone church they call La Cathedrale Bic that has the little BIC man holding the BIC pen like as kendo staff, as it appeared to Sambo Akaya. Carmen saw the representation of the true form in the tip of a BIC ballpoint pen viewed down the z-axis--carved into the church's stone capitals. From that day on the Akayas collected BIC pen, in case something needed to be written down. Their story goes east from Chantilly to Mongolia, and thirteen years later, when Norman, after many adventures, weaned on kumiss of fermented mare's milk and blood, two of the most nourishing foods in the world, boarded a plane and flew to Sacramento.
His uncle Jose, by now was a sometime lecturer in the Science of "Pataphysics (See Evergreen Review No. 13 of volume 4, May-June 1960 "What is Pataphysics--'Pataphysics is the Only Science", edited by Roger Shattuck and Simon Watson Taylor). He had composed a concerto for flea lute, dedicated to Saint Crispin, "The lutanist of fleas, the knave, the thane,/ The ribboned stick, the bellowing breeches, cloak/ of China, cap of Spain..." (Wallace Stevens, Poems, Selected, and with an Introduction by Samuel French Morse, Vintage Books, New York, 1959, "The Comedian as the Letter C, I.The World without Imagination," p. 31). When a call came to meet the red-eye special from Mongolia at the Sacramento airport at noon, Jose Que conceived a way in which he could cover his lecture appearance with Norman in tow, scheduled for three o'clock in the afternoon, and then drive west with his nephew into the light of Manjushri orange and the red light of Amida, Amitabha, beyond.
Kurt von Meier