It was when reading the Wikipedia article on Akem, that I paid the most attention to the fact that Akem Manah, as cited from the Gathas, is an attribute of man himself, one that exists in all of us, and one that must be combated to maintain a righteous purpose in self. Akem Manah, describes a trait in every man that motivates one to act in a deceitful manner. A pretty nasty thing, but I guess there’s a reason why Akem Manah was re-incarnated as an embodied demon in later works of the religion. However, I could not simply accept that the message given to me by (whatever) had simply been a warning that proclaimed I should see an exorcist, as I do not, nor have I ever felt like I am currently possessed, nor have I gone through any major voice changes, spastic muscles movements, or bouts of unstoppable black-bile projectile vomiting. No, to understand what “Akem” could be, to understand its more constructive message, I would have to dig deeper.
It was then that I came by this line in the article, “Akoman causes a mortal’s failure to discriminate between good and evil, he so introduces discord and – as a consequence, physical evil in the world.” I then took that line with this line, “Akem Manah is a property of the daevas, entities that in later Zoroastrianism are demons but in the Gathas are gods that are to be rejected.” And suddenly I realized that there could be a Promethean tale in Akoman’s story.
Prometheus brought fire, and with it humanity was able to progress their civilizations. But the gift of fire can be used to both create civilizations and destroy it; it is up to humans to distinguish how we use it. So then I question, is the knowledge brought to that man by Akoman necessarily a bad thing? Or perhaps was it a gift that in his misuse brought its own consequences. Had he been given fire only to accidently burn himself?
Is being unable to discriminate between good and evil necessarily a bad thing? I would argue, immortal life would have need for such knowledge, for in the made world of the gods is the divide always apparent (Acting in our favor, or acting in our misfortune). But Mortal life is not so easily and divisibly catalogued. One person’s good is another person’s evil, and one person’s evil is another person’s good. As Margaret Atwood finds in her novel In Other Worlds, Utopian fiction tends to show us this unfortunate truth: in every Utopia, there is Dystopia, in ever Dystopia there is Utopia. So all that good and evil really is, is a method in which we separate ourselves (the perceivably good, that which favors us) from that which we fear (the perceivably evil, that which acts in our misfortune). The problem with this logic is that more often than not, (whether the divide is necessary or not) the more common application is used towards our own perceived narratives (real world mythologies) then in application of actual observation. If a neighborhood wolf has been eating up all our children, then the wolf must be evil, and we must rally to kill the wolf no matter what the wolf’s perception of the truth may be. It is not to say that evil doesn’t exists within our world; for sometimes we must accept evil in order to stop it, but to say that what we classify as evil is really only a perception.
What this means then is that the inability to discriminate between good and evil can be used in two ways. One there is the way that brings our downfall, I say the wolf is good, you say the wolf is evil, and we have a war. However, there is another outcome that can be seen. I can also say that the wolf is good, and you can say the wolf is evil, but instead of war, we bring discussion. In this case then, what the inability to discriminate between good and evil brings us is essentially discovery of a third perception, that is to say the truth that is above all other truths. The truth found in balance. That the wolf is neither good, nor is it evil, but rather it is neither. It is misfortunate to have a wolf eat our children, but it is not evil, for evil really is only a mythology, something that belongs with the gods. I say something is black, you say something is white, and if we accept both our truths then it must be grey. Gods are made from our own simple truths, only when we accept something different can we dethrone them.
Following the narrative of the story, as Wikipedia tells it then, if Akomen brought to man the inability to discriminate between good and evil, and we had used it to perceive the third “grey” truth within the equation then not only would Akomen no longer be a demon (for what would a demon be if there was no “evil” perceived?). Would Akomen vanish then? As we do not have a need for evil in our mythology any more, or would we be able to repurpose him, bring him back from the realms of rejection? In this new theological realization then I would ask if Akem wants to be evil, or if it is us, that both wants and needs to perceive him to be that way.
As children of Eden, we were cast from paradise once we bit into the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. From there did we learn to call the serpent evil for seducing our dear ancestors into biting into the apple and causing us to be casted, while at the same time did we learn to call god good despite the outrageous misfortunes he has at times placed on all of us (for example, like putting the tree there in the first place?). And the only excuse we have for this logic is because we only know good and evil as we are taught it. As the god, or gods, have taught us it. However, what Akem brought to us might be considered a challenge to this. If Akem was repurposed in this way, then would the gods not be upset if we were to betray their present alignments of good and evil?
Now, I don’t mean to offend anyone who practises Zoroastrianism by siding myself with the devil character, and I admit I haven’t really dwelled into any study of the religion to make any kind of concrete realizations. It’s not my intention to overstep my boundaries. What I’m simply exercising with this thought is a narrative practise, using Akem as an archetypal symbol and challenging the way it could be used. Who knows how, or why the word “Akem” was brought up on the Ouiji board that night, possibly because my brother was consciously moving the tablet as some kind of elaborate against-the-little-brother prank, possibly because my brother is the one who is possessed and was currently spreading the message of the devil (Ha! Suck on that big bro!). However, in my re-using of Akem, with the thoughts I had concerning the concept, I’ve been having fun treating myself to mind games at night. Now if I could only figure out what 2020 China and what ‘If I die Make Lake’ meant I could perhaps focus on less conceptual modes of thought.