A’Court Bason was the Lao Tzu of Floyd (along with his older brother Will). He was a self-described butterfly mystic from Across the Way, the English translation of his home farm, Travianna, or what he liked to call Kooky Town. He came to Floyd with his family at the age of 13. A pioneer of redefining boundaries from an early age, he was one of the first and the youngest alter-natives to live here communally.
I was summoned by A’Court in January of 2006 when he wanted some feedback on his handwritten book of poetry, Tiny Shrines. He wasn’t the type that was going to meet you in town. If you wanted to talk him (and many people did) you joined him crossed-legged on the floor of his rustic one-room home/studio and waited for the moment’s unique exchange to unfold.
I blogged about him soon after that and was nervous about it because I know there’s a fine line between telling a story and intruding on someone else’s personal (and in this case sacred) space. As far as I know, A’Court was fine with the blog. I don’t think he kept any secrets, and I know he embraced, what he continued to call and see as a metaphor, the “World Wide Web.”
Also, A’Court was a writer and documenter too. Here’s what I wrote about him in a review of Tiny Shrines: Sometimes frail and living frugally, A’Court rarely leaves the farm, where he lives in his studio/hermitage. He travels the days of the seasons like the rest of us travel to and from town. Keeping a record of his travels… So very delicate this silver thread / umbilical cord of my heart / river of muse / again the light moves into the cup / … he gives us a glimpse into a meditative life.
A’Court was reclusive, but he wasn’t anti-social. He was sought after by many for counsel and discourse on music, plants, art, mysticism and more. He once described to me the surprising pace of his hermitic life, which frequently included a whirring dervish of company that would sometimes fill his one room home.
I got a glimpse of that pace on a second visit. During the couple of hours that my husband and I spent with A’Court, other visitors came and went. It was then that I half-jokingly suggested a camera be put in the corner of the room to document the discourse and his reclusive lifestyle. The thought of a reality show based on A’Court’s life made us all laugh, and he thought it was a cool idea.
I went to his last art exhibit wanting to cover it for the paper in some way, but I found it impossible to wear my interviewer hat while he had on tiger ears. An informal blog post about the opening read: It wasn’t your typical interview. Nothing with A’Court ever is. It wasn’t really an interview at all, but I did sit down with him after the meet-the-artist traffic slowed down. I asked about the apostrophe in his first name and the thought behind wearing tiger ears to the opening.
And he answered. He had been wearing the furry ears and kept them on because he didn’t want to take himself too serious. He said that while also admitting that he actually was serious, mainly about Taoism and philosophy. He explained that A’Court is a family surname. His full name is Samuel A’Court Ashe Bason, and he was named after his ancestor, Samuel A’Court Ashe, the celebrated American Civil War captain, editor, historian and legislator. A’Court and the rest of the Bason family come from a long line of North Carolina legislators, artists, lawyers, writers and a wiki-pedia-worthy botanist. So, go figure.
I did complete something for the paper, by the way, and submitted a picture of A’Court, never mentioning his ears. I thought it best that way.
A’Court’s “body of work” (vast) is an appropriate way to describe the music, art and poetry he created, because his work evokes a felt-sense of the meeting of body, mind and spirit. I especially loved A’Court’s sense of humor and a line from Tiny Shrines has stuck with me: Even the Buddha played baseball sometimes. Something else I read more recently by A’Court shows how his wisdom equaled his humor: Don’t expect the mirror to smile first.”
A’Court lives on in his music and art, and in the family he loved. Always ethereal, I suspect the place he finds himself in now, Across the Way from Across the Way, is not so unfamiliar.
Post note: I just heard from a younger member of the Floyd Community who grew up at Travianna Farm and told me not so much Lao Tzu but Boo Radley (from To Kill a Mockingbird); that’s what the kids thought about A’Court back then. Visit A’Court’s webpage HERE.