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It's Tim Powers's World, We Just Live In It

April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

This probably won't make much sense to people who haven't read the Tim Powers novels The Stress of Her Regard and its fantastic brand-new sequel, Hide Me Among the Graves.  Especially the latter.


Remember that time when I almost got caught in a ghost trap straight out of a Powers novel, and I started to wonder if maybe I wasn't a real person but instead a character in a book?

And remember that time when somebody found a pair of handcuffs buried along the foundation of my house?

Yeah, well, it's happening again.

To put things in context, I just finished reading Hide Me Among the Graves a few days ago.  This book, and its prequel, revolve around vampiric lamia creatures—the siliconari—that take the form of statues or fragments of stone when rendered inert.  But they can be revived by human blood.   Without spoiling anything, the plot of Hide Me springs from a sequence at the very beginning of the book when somebody bleeds on a tiny statue (about the size of a chess piece) which is actually a dessicated vampire.  Adventures ensue.

Also, it should be noted these novels revolve around a passel of 19th Century poets: Keats, Shelley, Byron, the Rossetti clan, Swinburne... All of whom, according to the Tim Powers school of frighteningly plausible magical secret history, were the intimates of vampiric muses. 

So anyway.  Loren (he of the handcuffs) was doing some work on my house this week, when he found this buried in the front yard:

Caution: May Contain Trace Amounts of Vampire

The quarter is there for scale. 

Yes, that's right, he found a tiny statue about the size of a chess piece.  This wouldn't have struck me as odd if it hadn't synched up so perfectly with my pleasure reading.  And apparently this is a common practice here in New Mexico, a means of blessing a newly-built house.  (Which doesn't explain the handcuffs, but whatever.)

But part of me can't help but think, Holy crap!

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling tempted to bleed on this thing.  My writing can use all the supernatural help it can get.



DMS April 22, 2012 at 11:37 am
I suggest storing it next to your box of band-aids so that next time you just happen to be bleeding, you can try it out.
Ian April 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm
I'm spending a lot of time outside today, wearing a pair of sandals that always manages to gouge a bloody wound into my ankle. The pain will be worth it once I have my own personal vampire/muse/succubus.
Andrew April 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Skeptic- HA! When synchronicity adds up and makes you experience an emotion or state of mind that is new or at least intriguing then that(for me) defines magick:) Even when your trying to do it like getting a hole in one on a par three in golf its all about breaking the odds and experiencing a thrill. When its hard to ignore coincidences its time to play a scratchum ticket or the lotto... not necessarily going to win a million but perhaps a few bucks. It looks like previous owners might have been influence by Hoodoo or some afro-brazillian practices. Even the handcuffs makes more sense to me now. Have you found any buried bottles yet around your doorstep or perhaps some kind of tree? So very cool!
Andrew April 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm
And I just remembered -- Saint Joseph is buried upside down to sell a house. Digging it back up after the house has been sold to get it back can become problematic -HA!
Ian April 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm
Andrew, from now on when these strange things happen around my house, I'm going straight to you for an explanation! :-) Synchronicity -- that's the word I was looking for. Totally synchronistic experience. Jung would approve. No buried bottles yet... yet. Saint Joseph would make sense. And that might explain why he's carrying a hatchet? At first I thought it was St. Francis (who is big down here) because it looks a bit like the St. Francis statue my mother had for many years, but then I realized he wasn't covered in birds.
DMS April 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm
Why do you wear them if you know they always do that? Do you just get them out when you expect to need some of your own blood?
Ian April 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm
But not wearing them would either mean going barefoot or going to the store to buy sandals that don't tear up my feet. But *that* would require effort, and possibly talking to people. I'm too lazy and too much of a hermit for that. I figure I'm fine as long as I never wear the sandals for so long that they actually sever my Achilles tendons. And there is the blood magic issue, yes. One never knows when it might become necessary. Better safe than sorry.
Steve Halter April 23, 2012 at 5:58 am
Synchronicity is a good word. I hadn't known that powers had that sequel out--I'll have to get it. I happen to be in Rome right now and I walked by the house where Keats died yesterday and was thinking about "The Stress of Her Regard." Lot's of statues here--they are usually large so I think that I'll try not to bleed on them.
Ian April 23, 2012 at 9:51 am
Rome! Wow! How cool, Steve. I'm envious. I hope you're having a wonderful trip. And, gosh, talk about synchronicity. So there you were actually crossing paths with Keats while I was thinking about The Stress of Her Regard... Keep an eye on those statues. If they start to follow you, or dog your dreams, you'll know I've awakened something.
Melinda April 24, 2012 at 11:31 am
That's so cool, Steve. I'm insanely jealous. I adore Italy and Rome in particular. I think the little statue is St. Joseph because of the hatchet -- carpenter and all that. It probably was buried to help sell the house.
Rebecca Hewett April 25, 2012 at 8:09 am
There was a huge project in the UK about 8-10 years ago concerning deliberately concealed objects in buildings. Used to be they killed and hid one of the workers. Then it turned into shoes, aprons, tools, and other things. I can't find the specific project, but here's a short article if you're interested: or if you're into reading someone else's dissertation: The statue looks like he has a jug in his right hand and is wearing an apron of some sort. What's in his left? Patron saint of one of the builders? Interesting puzzle...
Ian April 25, 2012 at 9:28 am
This is fantastic stuff, Randi. Thanks! I'll get a huge kick out of reading those links. I should have known that you of all people would have insights into something so esoteric :-) I can't figure out what that thing in his right hand is. It looks like a jug to me, too, or maybe a wineskin. That's clearly a hatchet at his feet, as Melinda points out, which seems to indicate a carpenter. Is the wineskin actually something for holding nails? Hmmm. Of course, the apron might also suggest Freemasonry... If only there were a compass and square present, because then I'd know for certain I had stumbled onto something vast and dangerous.
Rebecca Hewett April 25, 2012 at 11:45 am
I think that blob in the left hand may be a loaf of bread! My official guess is one of two things. First, he's St. Joseph, lunch in hand getting ready to do out and earn a living. Because even if you are raising the "son of God" you still have to pay rent. Second, it's Jesus dressed as a carpenter and the jug and bread are illusions to the miracles. Either way I'll bet it was put there by the carpenter who built your home.
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