pumpkin.jpg I just learned from the latest issue of Parabola magazine (Chaos and Order, Fall 2003) that the word for monster has the same root as admonish, taking its meaning from the Latin monere, to warn. Monsters, like the dragons that inhabit the vague and unpeopled borders of old maps, do not exist for the purpose of rending and terrifying. They are there to warn us about the unnameable corrosive chaos just over the horizon; their purpose is to turn us back. Monsters are the last conceivable form before the unknowable black froth beyond. They are thrown up from the darkness of our minds and projected onto the fringes of the void. They are the lip of the tiny cup that contains us and everything we know. More explicitly: if you are afraid of the dark, what are you afraid of? Not monsters. Monsters are your friends, projections and personifications of who you are and what you know. But just beyond them is the thing worth fearing. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. You’ll find out one day.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to travel in Japan with my friend Mike. He took us north to Nikko, where the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate is buried in a vast temple complex. We snuck onto the temple grounds one night after a late dinner, and this is what happened: Filling the Void. Happy Halloween!