Art, Books, Trickster

One over Eight…

***

Someone produces a billy-can… And before long we are squatting… Over a small fire… Drinking black coffee… From tin cups… There is a scratching sound… From the carriage behind us… Where one of the soldiers… Is inscribing something into the wood… With the sharp edge… Of one of the white stones… Which bolster the tracks… Woz… Woz ‘ere… Reads the inscription… The soldier turns… And it is… Our Woz!… Plain as day… Same face… Hair… And everything… He smiles his crooked… Chewing gum smile… But there is as yet… No brass-bullet tooth… As his smile falters… He begins to fade.

***

The animal forms which Monkey assumes… Do not seem to have any significance… Other than to be entertaining… And move the story along… But it is a familiar device… From both folk-tale… And mythology… The world over… Gwion Bach chased by Cerridwen… From the Welsh stories… In the Mabinogion… Is perhaps the most famous… Some have seen in it the degraded vestige of a religious teaching… Arguing that the transformations represent… A visual key to the trans-migrations… Of the soul… Which if they are… Would make this yet another… Of Monkey’s collection of immortal traits.

***

In the story…  This ability is referred to… As the One Hundred and Eight Thousand… Transformations… That number again!… Which it begins to look like… Has some relevance… To the Old Chinese notion… Of immortality… It is probably best to view the figure… As a one… Over eight… Because the one comes first… See… The teaching is quite simple… Once One… Never None… If you turn the numbers into dots… Like those which appear… On dominoes… And dice… The mechanism will become clear… In the story they refer instead to the Tri-grams… Of the Taoists… Which work in precisely the same way.

 

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