Anticaprice / Chemical Engineering Mage

          from Jobs for Magical People (That Do Not Involve the Military)


After you come across the phrase in a popular book about Freemasonry,

you write it on a scrap of paper and pin it above your desk:




It stands for visita interiora terrae,

rectificandoque, invenies occultum lapidem

– you don’t like any of the translations,

make your own:

visit the interior of the Earth,

and by rectifying it,

you will find the hidden stone.


Rectification like the Hebrew tikun;

also as in tikun olam, repairing the world.


It appeals to the alchemist concealed within you,

the figure you imagine yourself to be

when you put on your hard hat,

visibility vest, your boots –

and begin your rounds on the factory floor.


Chemical reactions

usually run their course;

there is that sliver of a percent

when they go awry unexplained.

It adds up over time.

Your task is to ensure

nothing breaks; to stabilize reality.

It works better if you understand

what happens in every process –

it works better if you care.


Rounds, rounds on the factory floor.


The opposite of warfare – creation.

Not ex nihilo, but by means of

artifice and cunning.

In this country, this power

was studied with an intent

to disrupt; you cast that

all aside and obtained


an alchemy of sorts;

an anticaprice, a paradox,

both mercurial and anti-mercurial.

Beneficent presence.


The attributes of the Greek Hermes, the Roman Mercury

– once you look up the Jewish parallels,

the sefira of Hod according to Rabbi Moshe Cordovero

and you feel a syncretic frisson as you do so –

knowledge and magic, trade as in exchange,

the uncomfortable capitalist aspect of production efficiency

that somehow also made you indispensible

in the modern economy, chemical engineering mage;

the element of the unexpected, yet of solidity, firmness –


one possible etymology for Hermes is ‘stone heap’

and you have located the stone

within yourself; now your task is

to make sure to bring it

to everyone else

with every step you take

on the factory floor.



Bogi Takács (e/em/eir/emself or they pronouns) is a Hungarian Jewish athor, editor, critic and scholar who’s an immigrant to the US. Bogi has won the Lambda and Hugo awards, and has been a finalist for other awards like the Ignyte and the Locus. E edited three volumes of Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction. Eir debut poetry collection Algorithmic Shapeshifting and eir debut short story collection The Trans Space Octopus Congregation were both released in 2019, and eir second collection Power to Yield and Other Stories has just been published this year. You can find Bogi talking about books at, and on various social media like Bluesky, Patreon, Mastodon and Instagram as bogiperson.


Photo by Vansh Juneja on Unsplash

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