Paraklausithyron: Of barred entry, wasted effort, and working on the right side of every locked door

The Devil’s Fane is turning one year old tomorrow! Since August 1, 2017, I’ve written a total of 54 posts and a whopping 131,982 words here. If you’ve stuck around to read them all, you’ve polished off an entire book’s worth of information, personal reflection, and opinion about my take on Satanism—a book that would run for about 278 pages if printed up in standard non-fiction format! That’s awesome. I enjoy writing for the blog and receiving feedback from readers who take the time to leave comments or even, in many cases, reach out to me personally to let me know what they think of the posts and how what I’ve penned has affected them. 

Here’s the thing, though: I began this blog and gave it the title I did because it was originally meant as a tool to help me begin writing an actual, physical book about modern Satanism and my take on what makes it great, useful, and helpful for living in the twenty-first century. While I may enjoy the blog, both it and the allure of immediate, one-off feedback on my posts have proven a distraction from my original main task of writing my book(s). I fear that, at least to some extent, in slaving away writing all these words and posts, I may well have been working on the wrong side of a very big, very stuck door that I really need to pass through in order to achieve my personal goals.  Let me explain what I mean by this. 


Working on the Wrong Side of the Door

When I first went off to grad school, I was studying Classical Greek and Latin language and literature, specializing in the writings of the Hellenistic period: roughly that stretch of time from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE until the untimely demise of Cleopatra—according to tradition, bitten on the udder by an adder—sometime in 30 BCE. One genre of poetry common during the Hellenistic period that I spilled a fair amount of would-be scholarly ink over was the so-called paraklausithyron: the lament of a lover beside the locked and barred door of his paramour. In Latin, paraklausithyra are known as songs of the exclusus amator or, loosely, “locked out lover.” In other words, they’re the poetry of ardent desire on the wrong side of a sealed door.      

For quite a few months now, the back door that leads into my house from the garage has had some issues. Well, really it’s the doorknob and the latch bolt that’ve had the problems. Specifically, when you try to turn the knob, it often won’t budge without some significant torque or even leaning or outright pounding on the door with your full body weight. Once, in frustration at being unable to do anything that would let me get the damn knob to twisting and the latch to releasing, I grabbed a hammer from its nearby resting place on the pegboard along the wall and gave the door handle a good thwack. Didn’t accomplish anything except for denting the brass-patinated knob, but it made me feel better. Still had to walk around to the front of the house to let myself in with the key, though. 

Well, the other day, whatever had been ailing our poor doorknob/latch assembly finally gave up the ghost as I left the house en route to purchase some more wine at the local Tom Thumb. I had exited via that back door, only to immediately lay a hand atop my empty shirt breast pocket and discover I had left my sunglasses in the dresser drawer in our bedroom. When I tried to re-enter the house to retrieve them, that’s when I discovered it: the knob began turning freely and easily in my hand, absolutely no torque needed, but noway, nohow was that thing even remotely affecting the latch bolt, which remained firmly and deeply entrenched in position, barring passage within. 

My wife and I had to start exiting the rear of the house through the door to the back porch, then taking the side door from the porch into the garage in order to access our automobiles. What a pain in the ass that was! We clearly had a date with a locksmith in our future. In the meantime, though, stubborn, pigheaded me wanted a whack at fixing that door all by my lonesome. I could pull that recalcitrant doorknob and latch assembly out and replace it myself, by Satan! And I would!

I began “work” on the morning I would ultimately call the locksmith. I had looked one up according to high ratings on the social media app NextDoor. His office hours didn’t start up until 8am. It was now close to 7 or so. The 60-minute countdown was ticking away. This whole problem had begun while I was in the garage, trying to get back into the house via the now broken door. So, without a moment’s hesitation for introspection or evaluation, I went directly to where the trouble had started in my Quixotic quest to begin fixing it. First up: getting the doorknob off! 

Our assembly was one of those “fancy” ones that have no exposed or obvious screws to release the knob from the door. I already knew what that meant: I would have to remove the knob itself first and then take off the brass plate behind it—the so-called rose—that abutted the actual door. That’s where the screws were hiding. The key to removing the knob lay in the small oval-shaped hole in the shank or stem that connected the knob to the rest of the assembly. That tiny opening is called a detent hole. By pressing there, whether on a raised tab of metal jutting up into the hole or on some invisible catch hidden beneath, the theory is that you can release the knob and simply pull it off. Only, whenever I inserted a tiny hex key—you might know these better as allen wrenches—into the minuscule, dark recess and began blindly fidgeting around, I got exactly nowhere. Bupkis. There wasn’t even a small slot for the hex key to fit into and turn, as you would expect to do with an allen wrench. 

I went back and forth from the damaged door to YouTube and Google searches countless times, trying to figure out how to get that damn knob off. Given that I had to exit the garage via the side door leading to the back porch and then re-enter the house from the porch through both storm door and the french back door—which, by the way, opens to the inside of the home and, when ajar, temporarily blocks the wall-mounted TV that my kids were watching, shouting at me to close the door and get out of the way—that was no simple schlep to make over and over again. In the end, no matter what I tried or how many times I went back and forth between intractable door and unhelpful computer, I made absolutely no headway on the problem. 

So, ok. Maybe I needed to tackle this issue from the other side. Once I looked at the door from the inside, I noticed that the rose there had a small notch in its side, as for a Phillips-head screwdriver to fit into and help jimmy it off. Only, the doorknob was still attached, and I was convinced that the answer to removing the knob—either knob, both knobs—lay in the visible detent hole in the shank on the outside door handle. There was no corresponding visible detent hole on the inside, not that I looked much. Again, I had assumed right from the start that the key to solving this particular problem lay near where it had started: on the outside. 

I began work on the inside by immediately jamming a screwdriver into the notch on the rose and trying to pry up the thin metal and simply bend it back through sufficient brute force to expose the screws, even with the knob still on. At this point, I’m actually breaking the knob assembly in order to remove those screws. 

Well, long after I had worked over the rose enough to find both screws and remove them, I still couldn’t get the knob assembly out of the door. Something else was holding it in place, and the only thing I could figure was that it had to do with the fact that both knobs were still attached. 

Finally, in desperation I begin scouring the stem on the inside to see if there was another detent hole there somewhere that I had missed. As Murphy’s Law would have it, I located a second detent hole lined up on the underside of the shank. Pressing there with just a paper clip I had unbent released the knob with minimal effort at pulling. It was a cinch. As I set the knob and then the mangled rose down on top of the washing machine, I shook my head in disgust. Why hadn’t I started trying to tackle the problem on the inside of the door to begin with? If I had first sought the detent hole there, I could have had it off in a jiffy, not mangled the rose to hell and back, and just had an overall easier time of removing the knob assembly. Once I got that interior knob off, all I had to do to release the whole shebang and let it just fall right out of the door was jab a screwdriver down the stem and push! 

But then, as Murphy’s Law would continue to have my ordeal be, I still couldn’t get the damn latch to release. It had apparently come entirely detached from the working of the knob assembly, which is why, when the problem first surfaced, I was able to turn and keep on turning the knob with absolutely no effect on the latch whatsoever. For a bit, I contemplated just removing the pins from the hinges and taking the whole door off, with the hope of getting the thing free from the frame in order to then remove the latch assembly from the side of the door. But I couldn’t get the hinge-side of the door to budge once I’d removed the pins. 

I would still end up calling the locksmith, who resorted to exactly what I had tried: removing the pins and, with my help pushing and throwing my bodyweight against the exterior of the door, taking it off the hinges and removing the latchworks from the side. All this was frustrating to no end because I had been so close to fixing the problem on my own but instead ended up paying almost two hundred dollars for an hour’s labor (no partial hours billed), parts consisting of a new knob and latch assembly, and rekeying the lock to fit those on the rest of the house. 

What really stuck with me, however, long after the ordeal had concluded—and what I’m still hung up on and am now writing about!—is the fact that all my troubles and struggles began with a simple miscalculated assumption. I was absolutely fixated on beginning to tackle my problem from the very place where it had started. Because I was trying obstinately to find the solution from the outside of the door, I made no headway for a good half-hour, working myself into a lather from a combination of the summer heat trapped in the garage and my mounting frustration. If I had thought more creatively and begun tackling the issue from the inside, opposite where the problem had started, I might have won more early successes over a shorter period of time, resulting in markedly less frustration and, because I would have been laboring inside where it’s air conditioned, less sweat as well. I had begun working on the wrong side of a broken door, and that made all the difference.          


Working on the Right Side of the Door

This paraklausithyron metaphor is applicable to so many areas of life where labor and effort are wasted in pursuit of solutions to problems you’re stuck seeing from only one perspective and are thus seemingly incapable of thinking creatively about. I’ve written recently about how I had been plugging away on the wrong side of the metaphorical door with the local Satanic group I’m a part of, wasting my time and mental energy stewing over what I had perceived as problems and attempting to solve them from a single, dogged, and entirely incorrect and unproductive angle.

As far as this writing a Satanic book thing is concerned, I suppose you could view my choice to begin a blog as my attempt to start on the problem from some place opposite that in which I first conceived of the desire to publish. Starting up a blog gave me a convenient way to begin thinking into the issues I wanted to cover in a book and get some early, easy successes under my belt, while building a readership at the same time. For all of that, I’m grateful. But I also need to take a moment to remind myself that my real goal is books. Blogs must remain a stepping stone, not an end unto themselves.

To that end, for this second year of The Devil’s Fane’s life, I’m going to begin concentrating more and more on my book writing, with concomitant less attention paid to the blogging. I’ll still keep the site active, will still publish and meet you here, but the posts may come less frequently and may tend to overall shorter lengths with less complicated subjects. That’s because, for this upcoming year of both the blog’s and my own life (we almost share a birthday, off by just one day), I’m going to make myself into the thing I’ve always wanted to be: a published author of popular work on Satanism.     


Plans and Coming Changes

All this said, I do have some big plans in the works to help celebrate the blog’s birthday tomorrow. To begin with, I’ll be changing the site’s look, so you can expect a different feel when you next access The Devil’s Fane. I’ll also be announcing a giveaway tomorrow, with the lucky winner receiving a framed print from my friend and fabulous Satanic artist Sisu! 

So don’t go anywhere. Stay tuned. Keep reading. I’ll still be here, plugging away, only more from the right side of this door this time, the entry I’ve been wanting to walk through for quite a while now. I’m trying to get into the big house of my dreams and creative visualizations here, and I can’t wait to give you the grand tour once I make it in! Thanks for sticking around in the meantime. Thanks for everything!  

2 thoughts on “Paraklausithyron: Of barred entry, wasted effort, and working on the right side of every locked door

  1. Happy birthday to you and your blog!

    This particular story about the stuck door and the example about the locked-out lover remind me of all the times a particular fixture in my life — person, issue, or even organization — managed to consume all my focus when other options or even solutions were more easily available, as you put it, on the right side of a locked door.

    Liked by 1 person

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