Having enjoyed my stay in Borges’s Labyrinths, I hasten to board another of his books, The Aleph and Other Stories. Before long, I find myself there again at the House on Shady Blvd, imagining it now as an Aleph, or what Borges’s friend Carlos calls “the only place on earth where all places are — seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending” (23). Hence also a kind of time machine. Is that not the ineffable core of my story? There I am again, sunlight shining, moonlight glinting amid stained glass windows, glass chandeliers, large mirrors. “I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance,” writes Borges. “The Aleph’s diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror’s face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors of earth and none of them reflected me […]. I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon — the unimaginable universe” (27-28).
A package arrives from my friends at Theurgical Studies Press containing two chapbooks, the press’s first releases: Benjamin Gardner’s “Incident at Funk’s Grove” and Erik Waterkotte’s “Inside the Found Photograph.” Along with the chapbooks, Gardner also included his read-along book The Cabin. These are beautiful small-press objects made by writers who are also talented printmakers and painters. Gardner and Waterkotte work adeptly wherever they try their hand. They present themselves as theorgoi, who, as the Chaldean Oracles report, “do not fall under the fate-governed hand.” Theurgy was a form of magic performed by Neoplatonists. Theorgoi, then, are those who practice this magic: figures who invoke deities through ritual. Horror is generally not my cup of tea, and Theurgical Studies Press is at least in part a publisher of horror. “What is the nature of the horror to which my friends are drawn?” I hear myself wondering. But “Incident at Funk’s Grove” is a delight. Entry into the story’s grove functions as would passage through a portal. One crosses the magic circle that bounds contemporary realism so as to access the world of the weird.