My Turn on Earth

Some of Gilda Trillim’s papers at the archive

Continuing my research into the life and writing Gilda Trillim, I found the following theological poem in one of her high school notebooks. While the title appears to be tongue-in-cheek and added years after she wrote this, the rest seems like the kind of poetic theology that Adam Miller calls for. What’s astonishing is she seems to anticipate many current issues—like intelligent design creationism. While as a biologist I cannot speak to her poetics, her biology is really quite up to snuff and modern. The centrality in this work of a plan of salvation that draws on evolution seems to anticipate my own papers on the issue years ahead of their appearance (and let me be clear, I had not read Trillim prior to writing my Dialogue article or I certainly would have cited her).

I’m not really sure what this is. It seems to be a play of sorts? A hymn of praise in places? Poetry? It’s difficult to classify and outside of the writing Trillim usually does with her minimalist novels. There is a maudlin quality, typical of such reimaginings of the Preexistence, but nonetheless this seems to explore things like consciousness and free will in interesting, if ultimately facile ways. Here is her play (or whatever).

My Turn on Earth

I sing in praise of the High God!
Material Father.
Embodied Mother.
He that weeps.
She that worries and cries.
Praise Him!
Praise Her!
For they stood and said, “These!”
Praise them we are these!
“And these will be made these!”

And lo.
And lo.

There was a place.
There was a space.
Where matter was not yet matter.
Unorganized.
Wandering.
Here and there ascatter.

(The Spell)

Knot it.
Bind it.
Fasten it with glue.
Hold it.
Twist it.
Into a matter stew.

Shrink it.
Crush it.
Until it’s just a tittle.
Pack it.
Stack it.
Until it cannot wiggle.

Until . . . ?

Until Bang!
Until KaBoom!
Expanding space
Extending time

And then there was light.
And it all seemed quite right.

The children gathered round to watch
the great unfolding.
‘Patience,’ said Father.
‘Patience,’ said Mother.

And then a swirl soft lit appeared,
Of stars thick spinning through the cloud,
Then another and another graced the expanding mere,
As light through night serenely plowed,
Then for joy the sons cried at a universe made,
And in ecstasy daughters clapped and sang,
For the foundation of delight was in matter laid ,
And from that beginning all that would later emerge sprang,
‘How long?’ his children begged and pled,
‘Before our warm bodies completed stand?
What wait, before complexity will widely spread,
That we may in doughy matter gently land?’
‘No one knows,’ said God, ‘What the future holds,
But we must watch and wait until it all unfolds.


Great is Their wisdom!
Mighty is Their watching!
Praise His mighty patience and Her forbearance!
For the universe spins as it must spin,
with matter in motion,
the laws are set,
and waiting and patience ,
are also Godly acts.
For not until consciousness enters the worlds,
can They be heard and Their hand be raised.
For moving matter from those
courses to which it has been set
requires mind,
and mind matter.
And every act an agent.
And for every agent an act.

But lo, what horror did wetness unfold!
For substance found swift ways to replicate,
And thus began generations untold,
For suffering—pain undergird the second estate,
For through blood, semen and terrors thick rife
Complexity crawled mad in to the universe,
Growing, adding, emerging quickening life,
Bringing blessings though in curses immerse,
Then wept daughters and cried the sons at sere
Earth’s monstrous demands in blood and tooth,
‘Is there no other way?’ wept mouths tight in fear
And Father answered, ‘Will you know the truth?
If freedom complexity and creativity will reign,
Matter must face its existential bane.

Then star bringer held up his hand
And God nodded
Mother bid him rise

Stand still sweet parents swift and bright
Holding back darkness, wielding light

For I have found the Apollonian way,
No need for messes, wet with clay

No blood, no semen, or menstrual mess
No offal, sickness, age, distress

Make it craftily designed and certain,
Forget this grassy, slimish, verdan’

Here’s how . . .

(And the children listened as he spoke)


Tick tock tick tock
Turn the steel precision gear
Now wind up the iron clock

Metal to metal, key to lock
Torsion, tension, forces shear
Tick tock tick tock

I will teach you how to walk
Set courses given, never veer
Now wind up the iron clock

All is determined, never ad-hoc
All to metronome adhere
Tick tock tick tock

Set with pulley, tackle, block
Let all in lockstep-click appear
Now wind up the iron clock

Toward exact prediction flock!
And every outcome engineer!
Tick tock tick tock!
Now wind up the iron clock!

A lone figure walks in the distance, His head bowed,
As the machinist unfolds blueprints
Exact and precise and shows his devisings.

The figure knells and wonders, Is a less cruel way possible?
Can this cup be replaced?
Can complexity emerge from other than freedom,
variation, inheritance, selection?
Is the machinist right?
Is there another way?
The contriver in the distance can be seen
waving his hands and building a scale model
of a universe engineered to be set, certain,
no slop, all is measured and precise,
fixed, so that no surprises enter in.
Where all is arranged from the beginning.
And once in motion it starts to spin—
all ends are determined and from
the beginning laid.

While the Bringer with tinker toys played and stacked,
Another looked at heaven’s ecologies,
At life manifold, diverse within spheres,
Turning, emerging, knots in knots folding,
Living things striving upward creative,
Evolving, ascending, to new rife forms.

Who would enter this chaos? Pinning forms,
Spirit and matter joined, new made and stacked
Together, forged by bold acts creative,
To enable celestial ecologies,
To embrace topological folding,
So severe as to rupture holy spheres?

Alone to deftly hold those spinning spheres
Crashing, in sins of many confounding forms?
Who would stand to embrace such bleak folding?
Such a cross to bear! Against the world stacked!
On whom the fate of all ecologies,
Would rest? Who can dare be so creative?

As to fashion salvation creative
And reckless, to transcend all mortal spheres?
To save meek creaturely ecologies,
And those of keen humans whose godly form
Strains among its temptations sharply stacked,
And who against nature’s lien is folding?

Who will stand to face staid fate’s unfolding?
Against dark evil’s relentless creative
Disillusionment, fierce against us stacked?
Search high and low among heavenly spheres,
Hunt among all conscious, sentient forms,
For one to hold tight the ecologies,

Willingly, lovingly, ecologies
Thick wrapped with matter and spirit folding,
Able to embrace hallow living forms,
And perform an act, holy, creative,
Beyond that which as yet emerged in spheres,
Endlessly spinning or in fell worlds stacked.

Who made the ecologies creative?
I. Send me therefore folding into spheres,
Where I will free willing forms, saved well-stacked.


“No don’t send him send me! Send me. Send me,” ticked the Tock,
I can engineer this with certainty,
such that none will be lost.
For every gear will turn as turned,
and every piece in place,
completing the whole
with exactness,
well designed,
ablely constructed,
fit to all existence’s need.
And all outcomes sure.

And then the tick-tock man of morning light sang:

Brood on blood spilled in thick fetid fluids that drain,
in a broth of anguish lapped by tongues wet—
Slick behind bone teeth made to tear, crush, set
within flesh made to feel every rush of pain.
Watch razor claws that leave wounds spelling bane—
not quick, nor merciful—a constant threat
that mad suffering will never abet—
Leaving on existence naught but a stain.
That fate on creature, will thus fall to us,
and alone will our bleak children fall dashed,
smitten by nature’s relentless cunning.
Think hard what cruel gains come of such a thrust,
where all we love can be cut and slashed—
Leaving us from mortal fears ever running?

Father/Mother in answer wept,

Since in complexity is freedom,
and machines made, even of
sweet biology are still machines.
We chose He that chooses life
over overt design.
We chose flourishing over
mandated determinism.

And they chose the life-giver.
And the intelligent designer was angry and kept not his first estate.

And Mother and Father gathered their children around them and said:

A Trilobite of order Redlichiida,
evolved into an Asaphida,
Though they all went extinct
Their time on Earth quite succinct
Permian seas still contained some Proetida

Fish arrived in Devonian Oceans
With fins they could use for their motions
For limbs, hands, and feet
Are for Godlings quite sweet
And allow them to apply crafty lotions.

Amphibians soon came upon lands
And in doing so formed little hands
They could hold onto walls
And make squeaky calls
Meeting all their terrestrial demands

Reptiles next appeared on the scene
(Some shaded a glorious green)
The dinosaurs bold
Or so we are told
Also had quite a wonderful sheen

After a meteor strike in the Yucatan,
That smashed an alluvial fan,
The dinosaurs died,
‘cross the world wide
Bringing joy to a small mammal clan

There once was a Therapsid from Nantucket,
Who evolved into a thought bucket,
Finally stood on two feet,
And with spears hunted meat,
Using language all the better to thunk it

Two alone stand and watch,
Hand in hand, waiting, wondering.
Could the machinist be right?
Could the way of the gear’s precise turning,
engineered with care, laid out in set
exactitude without play—smooth running,
machines clicking and clacking forward
in righteousness, humming sweetly, into a
shiny and grinding future been
better in the end?
Many have followed him after all.

She turns to him,

“They will worship him when they get below.”
“I know.”
“The designer God.”
“Yes.”
“Omnipotent.”
“Yes, working though consciousness has its limitations. Much better the myth of the God who can engineer any end.”
“Omniscient.”
“Yes. In a deterministic world if you know the initial conditions all else follows. There is great comfort in such a system.”
“Omnipresent.”
Looking down and spreading his arms he answers, “And here I am that I am. An object. Made of matter like them.”
She laughs, “Yes. Like them. Our children.”
“They will build machines great and complex.”
“It’s what they do with them that matters.”
“Yes.”
“I wonder, will they care for the world? Will they know the time that went into that cactus? That flower. That snake, that bird in bright plumage a half billion years in the making? Will they treasure the emergence?”
“We shall see.”

He looks across the expanse, “Existence is hard.”
“Yes.”
“We must prepare them for it.”
“Yes.”
“We are not machines.”
“No. But emergence has its pleasures.”
“Yes.”

Sperm, egg, wet cells, sticky fluids spilling, sloppy, silly things
slide across membranes inexact, error prone
accidents of selection slip, flesh swings,
through channels forming rough and brittle bone,
genes slip and slide through motions mostly right,
but cough and jerk from time to time, hiccup trip,
springs unwind, chemicals push through and fight,
splashing nonsense far and wide, loosing grip.
But from the grass the cheetah bolts, relentless.
Clear eyes focused on motion swift, fleeing.
Fleet legs stretching, back—a coiled spring, exactness.
Retractable claws in air stretch, seizing.
Chaos from below; quite a messy show,
But from above; bides beauty’s steadfast flow.

The children want the parents to hurry things along.
Evolution works at its own pace, selecting from
among the random variation, passing it on though
time, slowly. There are many false starts. Much waste.
The children become impatient.


Can you not by force move things forward?
Just a little stir of the pot?
To hurry things along a bit?
Must consciousness be the only influence?

Just a little stir of the pot,
would make the stirrer culpable, so
must consciousness be the only influence,
as matter in motion does what it will,

Would make the stirrer culpable? So?
Bodies need to find joy,
as matter in motion does what it will,
with spirit to guide it to new ends.

Bodies need to find joy,
true, and claim those courses
with spirit to guide it to new ends.
But spirit needs a consciousness if it is to find expression

true, and claim those courses
shadowed by force and law.
For a spirit needs a consciousness to find its expression
in the courses through which matter flows

Shadowed by force and law,
constrain all, even I,
in the courses through which matter flows
from consciousness to consciousness.

Constrain all, even I,
so through soft influence I push,
from consciousness to consciousness,
my work to do,

So through soft influence I push
through you to put matter into motion,
my work to do,
only though you.

Through you to put matter into motion
all my glory, all my love is expressed.
Only through you
can the pot be stirred at all.

And so the children watched as things unfolded, emerged,
what wonders they beheld as things blossomed into being.
“Look, that Toodon goes upon two legs!
Its brain is large? Will it be our home?

Wait and see my children. Wait and see?
But no, a meteor strikes and all hope ends.

But on that planet,
in that galaxy over there,
is that language?
On that one, hands?
On that far planet,
song like those in the heavens are sung?
There! There is an orb where intelligence reigns,
where behemoths use their trunks for tools,
then fashion more of rock and stone.

Will that do? It’s not like you in form, but it will do.
See they love and talk and sing like angels too?
Consciousness is there. Is it not? Can we go?

Patience my children, wait and see, perhaps for another,
but not for you.

Then . . . what’s this? Little insectivores develop little hands,
Their eyes are focused straight ahead.
We watch as selection does its work,
on variations, random
threads, passing down generations of
these tree dwellers
chattering free.

Cross your fingers. Hold your breath.

A promising beginning sure.
Sociality makes their brains to grow,
their repertoire of sounds
and gestures grow and mount.

Can it be so? They seem familiar.

Their tail grows smaller, the brain gets larger.

Please, oh please. Let the tail go. Let it go!
Let it go away.

And it does. Down from the trees they come
and soon walking
develop a smooth and careful gait.
They hunt.
From rocks
they hammer tools.

One of the children cries:
“What a piece of work is protoman! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!”

Are they conscious
in just the right way?
Are the categories in place?
Can they reason, can they feel?
Can you touch their minds dear
God? Can you thus enter now
and influence the universe?

And there, in Earth’s glades,
A male and a female
Human squat across from each other.
A gourd of red ocher in the male’s hand,
Each dip a finger,
into the bowl.
And each to each apply a stripe,
down the other’s face.
A decoration.
And act of love,
making art.

And consciousness entered in.
In just the right way.

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To get a virtual tour of the Trillim library that just opened in Yunnan, Xinjiang go here.

Comments

  1. Gilda Trillim for Poet of Science Laureate. Amazing work, my friend.

  2. Coffinberry says:

    That was amazing! Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I can’t think of a more appropriate word, so I will simply echo “amazing.”

  4. Intriguing! So much ground is covered here. (I especially liked the use of “Father/Mother.”) Now I’ll go back and check out the links about this poet. Thanks.

  5. it's a series of tubes says:

    This is incredible. I need to read it again. Though I disagree with her interpretation of a few points (cf the “foot-tapping” God), this is truly a masterful creation.

    Now wind up the iron clock!

  6. This is epic. Steven Peck, you are my hero.

  7. Wow.

  8. It reads like a prog-rock song. I had several tunes going in my head while reading, and the change-ups were superb.

  9. themormonbrit says:

    This is, quite simply, an incredible masterpiece. I am truly speechless. This was absolutely superb.

  10. it's a series of tubes says:

    Steve, since you state that you found this in one of her “high school notebooks”, are you saying it dates from the mid-1930s? All the more incredible, if so.

  11. Gorgeous. So, do you think Gilda believed that the great cenote in Chichen Itza was the impact of the deadly meteor?

  12. it's a series of tubes says:

    Steve, I apologize for the threadjack in advance, but I hope you’ll have some useful feedback…

    I just finished reading your linked Dialogue article, and appreciate your perspective on this topic which has always interested me. I was wondering if you knew of any sources or further articles that address, in the context of a Mormon theology that incorporates evolution, the arising of living things in the first instance – the transition from non-life to life – and the potential mechanisms and theological implications for that initial “spark”. Has anyone written anything like that?

  13. Thanks all!

    it’s a series of tubes, I’ve done a bit of writing about it at my other blog, this one actually explores some of the questions you asked, It was written for a theology conference so it does not talk about Mormonism explicitly because I was in conversation with other faiths exploring evolutionary theology, but it’s a little long. Also the podcast that Blair did with me here, has some wild speculation that you might find interesting. This is my favorite subject so I love talking about it.

    In your other question about the dating of Trillam’s work, a relook at some of the comments in my first post about her should be revealing of that date.

    Margaret says, So, do you think Gilda believed that the great cenote in Chichen Itza was the impact of the deadly meteor? Of course!

  14. Angela H. says:

    Wow. Wow! What an amazing find, Steve.

  15. I would put “find” in ironic Steve-actually-wrote-this-quotes.

  16. Gilgamesh says:

    I, for one, love the goldfish cracker in the top left of the photo.

  17. I’ve been taken to task for the idea that conscious and recognizably human beings may not have contained Children of God. Protoman! Anyway, obviously, it’s stupendous.

  18. EmJen–up for interpretation. Wrote or transcribed or discovered or translated? So much overlap. Which would not apply to Joseph Smith and the plates?

  19. If I were to include this in my upcoming class on literary explanations for the Big Bang and Evolution Suitable for Mormons [ or maybe Resulting in Mormons?], do you think I could get Gilda’s permission?

  20. Ben Pratt says:

    So great! You said this was in a high school notebook. So this is from teenage Trillim? Astonishing.

    EOR: I know, right? The only way to make this better would be to put 1970s Annie Haslam on vocals.

  21. Ben (20) FTW! I wish there was a “like” button on the comments.

  22. Margaret, while Trillim has passed to the great beyond, I understand her executors are open to lavish bribes.

  23. I second Kai’s “wow”.

  24. “So, do you think Gilda believed that the great cenote in Chichen Itza was the impact of the deadly meteor?”

    Every once in a while I feel like this blog is written in a foreign language but I almost always learn something when I read it. Love the poem or whatever you have decided to call it.. Very interesting post and comments.

  25. I can’t leave it alone.

    In the middle of it all, she sneaks this:

    There once was a Therapsid from Nantucket,
    Who evolved into a thought bucket,
    Finally stood on two feet,
    And with spears hunted meat,
    Using language all the better to thunk it

    Amazing. Triple-wow.

  26. xenawarriorscientist says:

    DIG.

    We have an illustrator friend who’s been dying to do an “epic Mormon mythology illustration project.” It would have to wait until we’re all fabulously wealthy of course. Shall we discuss a deal at that point?

  27. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’ve been trying to eradicate the overdone word “amazing” from my vocabulary, but I was dumbstruck like the rest of you by this…astonishing…epic…masterpiece…and by a high school student? in the 1930′s? Okay, put me on the amazed list. And tell us more about her, please.

    I have to admit that while I was reading the passage about the tick tock of the iron clock that regiments us all safely into “set courses” never to veer into our own blooming sinful mess — for several verses while reading I was thinking of our correlated and pressure-to-conform culture that we sometimes create in the church. Says more about me than her, I know.

  28. Bradley says:

    This is great, and please forgive me for jumping the gun. I couldn’t wait for intelligent life to evolve.

  29. Mark N. says:

    Cue “Thus Spake Zarathustra” at the end…

  30. woah.

  31. Love, love, love this. I’ll have to add my own “amazing” to the chorus.

  32. Cool! Exactly which archives are these, by the way?

  33. So, fess up, Steve: have we been had?

  34. I have been thinking this sounds a lot like something I would expect Br Peck to write. Wherever it came from, it is exceptional.

  35. Given the google results for the purported author’s name, it’s clear who the true author is. Still awesome, but not as awesome as the concocted story. The “intelligent designer” anachronism sticks out like a sore thumb.

  36. #33,35 Yup! Looks like it.
    #34 I’d have to take you word for that – except Mr P has maybe damaged the credibility of the blog, so I’m currently less inclined to take anyones word at all, without immediate checking…
    Turns out, not only is nothing to be found on google in general (Trillim doesn’t appear to be the name of anyone – there’s none of that scatter of individuals sharing a surname I’d expect to see), but nothing on googlescholar of any of the purported papers or dissertations mentioned in the first of his posts on ‘Gilda Trillim’ either…
    Finally google translate renders ‘trillim’ as ‘fabrication’, translating from Albanian (of all languauges)…
    So, Mr P, have you been conducting an experiment of some sort, of which we are the unwitting subjects (how unethical, I’m muttering)? Or was this merely for your own warped entertainment?

  37. Lilly Gilder says:

    I approve of this poem and all of professor P.’s dark works.

  38. This poem rocked my world. Absolutely beautiful. There’s so many important concepts crammed into it. I’ve been thinking about it for days, now.

  39. #37
    The lily being ‘trillium’?
    That’s with a ‘u’.. I’m feeling picky.

    A game unbecoming a full professor for sure (the only kind to merit the title this side of the atlantic), however good the poem, I feel…

  40. Kristine says:

    It’s odd how unevenly the sense of humor has evolved–it’s such a useful trait, you’d think it would be more widely distributed…

  41. Well Kristine, there’s humour and then there’s humour…
    This was too obscure for me, being neither botanist nor literary expert…
    This blog is awash with reviews. How many more of them are simply an exercise in humour? How many are real?
    Obviously an ‘in’ joke for all you ‘intellectuals’, against us lesser mortals.
    Now if it had been women who were at the rough end of a joke by men, I rather think you’d be singing a different tune…

  42. Nobody was made the rough end of a joke here.

  43. Kristine says:

    Kai–several people didn’t get it at first (or, like me, had to google a bit to confirm their hunch that they were being played). Most of them got over it and had a chuckle. You’re invited to join them.

  44. #42 That’s your view. You obviously feel that you weren’t.
    I don’t think you can speak for everyone.

  45. In order to see yourself as the butt of a joke, you’d have to believe that the post was intended as a joke on unknowing readers, rather than as a creative, perhaps even humorous (but also very consistent with Steve’s other literary work, including poetry) way of introducing a new poem. There’s an enormous difference between a joke in the sense of intended humor and a joke in the sense of intended victims.

  46. Chieko Okazaki gave some tremendous advice years ago:

    “Lighten up!”

    Her book by that title is phenomenal. I highly recommend it.

  47. Well, bless your heart. Don’t google Apostle Arnfinnur Skáldskapur! And don’t blame Steve if some librarian puts his “Scholar of Moab” on the biography shelf, or catalogs his “Short Stay in Hell” with scriptures.

    Why am I humming Carly Simon all of a sudden?

  48. Kai, is there somehow a substantive difference in the poem itself based on having been written by a biology professor in 2012 rather than a figure from the 1930s?

    Whatever your view of that question, can you think of any reasons that this information having been presented in this way? What does it mean to you as you read it and pondered the poem itself?

    What did you think of the poem? How did it affect you?

  49. Ray, I am familiar with the work, I even mentioned on this very blog how it helped me in the past. :)
    Brad, you are making my point. I don’t believe there was any intention to make anyone the butt of the joke. But, if you read my comment on the first post (16 April), you might agree that then would have been the more appropriate time to put me out of my misery, as it were. As it was, there were 6 weeks or more, in which I could (but thankfully didn’t), have gone wittering to friends and family about this intriguing LDS author who was so badly treated – that puts me, however unintentionally, at the rough end, simply by perpetuating the joke. Along with any others in that situation. (I can hope I would have researched further before speaking, but I don’t know that, and others may not have done so.) As a relative newcomer, I am not familiar with the many and varied personalities on the blog.
    Kristine, I’m not denying it was clever, I enjoy word play as much as anyone, but I prefer to know when I am reading fiction.
    Ardis, I haven’t a clue why you are humming Carly Simon. I am not familiar with her music.
    What I am seriously narked about, is that with all this self-congratulatory back-slapping over a good joke enjoyed, you all seem to be failing to see the wider picture, and possible consequences.

  50. #48 John,
    It’s a good poem. I didn’t say it wasn’t.
    My argument isn’t with this particular post per se (see #49).
    There, is however, no denying that had the poem been written by a school girl of the 1930s there would be a whole other dimension to it. I think context is important.

  51. “with all this self-congratulatory back-slapping over a good joke enjoyed”

    Kai, I’m not seeing either of those things: “self-congratulatory back-slapping” or “a good joke enjoyed”. I get your concern, especially about the possibility that you could have gushed about it to friends and families – but I just don’t see those things having happened or happening. I don’t think Steve wrote it as a “joke” or for his own entertainment – and I don’t think most of the people who knew about it from the start saw it that way, either.

    Iow, I think you’re attributing motives that were present. You’re taking offense where none was intended.

  52. motives that “weren’t” present

    Changes the meaning just slightly.

  53. “I think you’re attributing motives that were(n’t) present”
    Ray, I said (#49), I didn’t believe any harm was intentional.
    I do believe it was careless, in the sense that consequences do not appear to have been thought through. I’m much less sure than you are, that others reading the blog, who never comment, didn’t then go out to unwittingly spread misinformation, and otherwise embarass themselves. But then I’m not privy to the data on traffic to the blog.
    No I didn’t go out gushing about the post, and I’m sure I’ll survive my lighter indignity, though I do think it would have been a whole lot kinder to put me out of my misery sooner. If you read my original comment on the first post you might possibly see I had invested, foolishly, a big chunk of emotion in the tale.
    On the “self-congratulatory back-slapping” part of my comment, perhaps I was reading more into it, on this occassion. That said it is an attitude/tone I see seeping through, from time to time, on a number of posts and comments on the blog as a whole, and it does get irritating. Perhaps an indication that this is not the place for me?

  54. Kristine says:

    Maybe just an indication that you need to stick around a little while longer and get to know the lay of the land before passing judgment. “Self-congratulatory back-slapping” is probably what long acquaintance looks like from the outside sometimes.

  55. Kristine says:

    Also, why would anyone who didn’t crave congratulatory back-slapping ever be a blogger, anyway? ;)

  56. Clouds in your coffee, Kai?

  57. I don’t get the joke, but I am a blunt force object. I still stand by my earlier assertion though that it makes a better prog-rock song than a poem–however, the song is not *as cool* because it doesn’t come from the writings of a 1930′s female high school student. It’s still good though.

    Also, self-congratulatory back-slappers don’t only write the posts; they also comment ;) That’s why I’m here at least.

  58. It’s all real–depending on your current timeline.

  59. I still like the poem; I spoke in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and quoted a portion of it. Fortunately, before doing so, I came to the conclusion that crediting Gilda Trillim was not a good idea. Neither, however, did I credit SteveP for it.

  60. Wisely done Mark, if just for the reason that quoting me has been known to cause riots in certain more literalist settings.

  61. “Kai, is there somehow a substantive difference in the poem itself based on having been written by a biology professor in 2012 rather than a figure from the 1930s?”

    John, is there a substantive difference in the BofM being written by Joseph Smith (or Solomon Spaulding who whoever) in 1820-whatever rather than ancient prophets from 400 AD?

  62. “or whoever…”

  63. I admit I felt kinda dumb for not catching on sooner but that doesn’t change the fact that I really like the poem.

  64. it's a series of tubes says:

    Kai, you’re not the only one that swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Do I feel a little sheepish? Yes. Do I disagree with some of the points it makes? Yes. Is it less awesome divorced from its purported context? Yes, but c’mom… lines like “there once was a therapsid from Nantucket” remain awesome! Also, I may have found a new moniker to comment under. At some point in the future, I may become The Iron Clock.

  65. The iron clock section is what I quoted in church on Sunday.

  66. I was taken in too, and DID gush to friends and family before doing my own googling about Gilda Trillium. I still think the poem is awesome, though. Maybe not quite as awesome, but still awesome.

  67. Thats funny because when Times and Seasons discussed the poem I thought the mistakenly gave credit to SteveP for writing the poem. I just ignored the error as I was more interested in the conversation about the poem.

  68. Kai: here’s an interesting commentary about the lesson you are just now learning:

    http://bit.ly/KwIlHi

  69. ps- and yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

  70. Public Service Announcement: Mark Twain didn’t write anything; don’t call me Ishmael; and Dr. Watson was not Sherlock Holmes’s Bosworth. Bosworth was, however, Johnson’s Bosworth.

  71. I’m feeling a little bad about people not being able to id the veracity of my posts. Here is a little guide to some of my past posts:

    Did the church create a Sunday School Lesson based on Edward Scissorhands? True.

    Am I a bad spellor? False

    Do I like people looking at my bookcase? False

    Is there a Robot Mission in Wyoming? Yes. True.

    Did Noah really write “Noah’s Lament?” Yes he did.

    Was the great Buffalo Hoax of 1873 Real? Yes. Of course.

    Is my spouse an Android? Yes. All true.

    Did a friend and I hike around Moab and contemplate Midlife? No. I made this up.

    Did Joseph Smith pen the White Corpse Prophecy about a Zombie Apocalypse? A well documented historical fact.

    Did my department fund an expedition to explore the Lost 10 tribes in a Hollow Earth and did I find that they had evolved into a kind of mole rat people? Yes. A very accurate account.

    Was President Monson asked to play Bilbo in the new Peter Jackson Hobbit movie? Yes. Of course.

    Did I hold a Darwin Seminar at BYU? Don’t be silly. Would they allow that? Obviously a fake.

    I hope this little guide helps clarify some of my fictions. I’m sorry if I seem confusing and dangerous. I would hate to have people start to believe that stuff on the internet cannot be trusted.

  72. PS. Mark N., I was . . . er. . . Gilda was . . . or would be if she wasn’t dead . . . quite honored to be quoted in church. I don’t think anything means more to a poet than for people to find their work worth sharing. Sincerely thank you.

  73. Ardis E. Parshall says:

    In another timeline, Bosworth would be Boswell. This, however, is BCC.

  74. Mark B. says:

    And all’s well that ends well, except on Bosworth Field. But you deserve a rose anyway, Ardis. Would that be red, or white?

  75. #63, 64 It’s not the poem, the aggravating factor is the 6 weeks, more if I measure the time after the second ‘Trillim’ post as well…
    #51 “I don’t think Steve wrote it as a “joke” or for his own entertainment – and I don’t think most of the people who knew about it from the start saw it that way, either.”
    If that were the case, Ray, I see no reason why he or they couldn’t have gently pointed out my initial error. I could then have enjoyed his experimental fiction for what it was.
    #68,69 I’d recommend changing your picture then Hodges.
    Kristine #55 , the more I have been reading the blogs, the clearer that gets. #54 It wasn’t a perjorative question, simply one I am pondering at the moment.
    “Maybe just an indication that you need to stick around a little while longer and get to know the lay of the land before passing judgment.”
    No doubt it would have been wiser to observe the this blog for far longer without ever commenting at all. As it is, Steve has been conducting his experiment for almost the entire time (bar 3 days or so) that I’ve been here… I do think those posting on a ‘religion’ blog, have some responsibilty to draw clear lines between fact and fiction.
    ‘“Self-congratulatory back-slapping” is probably what long acquaintance looks like from the outside sometimes.’
    Well obviously. But it isn’t something I have much patience with, or find easy to negotiate in RL. Perhaps I was naive to expect that on the internet things would be altogether geekier and discussion/debate oriented. They aren’t.

  76. Make that ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, with the ‘ ‘. I am cognizant of the irony, but hope my point is nevertheless understood.

    #58 My blood freezes. Here’s hoping Apple have bigger fish to fry.
    Consequence indeed.
    (Changing that link inbetween viewings was particularly insidious, and I was new to the whole iPod format as well as the blog…)

  77. #68 Yes I have been galumphing aound the blogs like an overexcited puppy…
    Do I think a safe space to discuss all that stuff they just don’t like us getting into at church is important? Yes.
    Do I think BCC is that safe place? Not now.

  78. A couple thoughts:

    —Newspaper columnists seem to have conventions for doing this sort of thing where they spin out their story for a couple sentences, then clarify that they’re making stuff up, and continue on with the story. It may be part of the professional ethics needed for an enterprise that exists in part to be a credible source of surprising yet true stories. Blogging, of course, has no standards and little credibility.

    —Perhaps Mark N. is putting one over on SteveP when he claims to have shared the poem at church. Perhaps SteveP is doing the same when he claims to be sincerely honored. Most of us will never know, and maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. The important thing is the idea that someone, in some timeline, would share a poem that he found significant and the poet finds himself moved by that act. It would make a fine scene in a novel.

  79. I love this! You guys have played the game perfectly! Pretending to be outraged by not clicking on the final link of both posts (which anyone who really cared about GT’s identity would have), missing the comments that made everything explicit in both posts as to authorship. Brillant. The absurdity of being so unfamiliar with my fictions as to call for implementation of blog ethical standards to avoid being misled! Well played. Well played indeed. You almost had me going that this was real! But then your complaints were a little over the top and could have used a little more of the subtly that I’ve tried to capture in my pretenses. You don’t want to appear so absurd as to give it away too early, but other than that nicely done.

    (In fact, when you were stringing me along so well I almost posted this from Star Trek with reference to the dangers of engaging with my posts:

    Capt. Picard: I understand what you’ve done here, Q. But I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of 18 members of my crew.
    Q: If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid. )

  80. FWIW, I really did read the “iron clock” section of the poem in Church on Sunday; I was addressing the topic of free will, and the idea that some scientists are claiming that free will is an illusion, and I thought it was a rather good illustration of what a world without agency could be compared to. But after coming to the conclusion that Gilda most likely didn’t exist, I had a small debate with myself as to whether or not it would be appropriate to read it during my talk, and I came to the conclusion that if Gilda didn’t write it, somebody did, and it was still worth sharing, even if the purported authorship was doubtful. I’m just glad I didn’t foolishly get up in front of the ward and breathlessly tell the tale of a teenager from Idaho in the 30′s. A google search for Gilda shows that this poem has been copied far and wide, and my impression is that enough detail (maybe too much, in the end) was supplied to make the Trillim authorship fairly plausible. I know I certainly bought into it at the beginning.

    As to being “unfamiliar with [SteveP.'s] fictions”, I plead guilty. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time here to spot them as easily as others who are more familiar with SteveP would be able to do. I think that’s worth some consideration by the blogging authors here.

    Maybe we Mormons are just more gullible than most. If we believe that angels can deliver books to unlearned young men in the 1800′s, then teenaged poets from Idaho don’t seem all that wacky.

  81. SteveP, if you are perceiving outrage or complaint, or pretense of either in my comment, then I am communicating my indifferent, time-wasting mood poorly. I am not calling for blog ethical standards, just observing as you are with that Star Trek quote that they don’t exist.

  82. Mark N. “I’m just glad I didn’t foolishly get up in front of the ward and breathlessly tell the tale of a teenager from Idaho in the 30′s.”
    I’m glad you didn’t too.

    SteveP
    The Apple comment wasn’t a game.
    I *did* view the photograph linked on your first post, I *didn’t* anticipate that you would change it. That this converged with my unfamilarity with the iPod fills you with glee I dare say. But in my life, on my timeline, it has required my having to grovel somewhat today, to institutions outside of your game.

    I prefer to take my fiction from the vantage of observer, not participant. With that in mind, I will now return to my own timeline, and leave you overgrown high-school student bloggers, drunk with your own wit and erudition, to your dangerous fun and games.

  83. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’ve always considered myself to have hypersensitive tendencies, but the fact that I am able to follow this comment thread and that it even puts a smile on my face makes me feel kinda normal – like I’m just inside the boundary of the cool kids here. Yay for the fringes of belonging!
    Way to get bored, overstimulated people to read/enjoy your poetry, dude.

  84. I’ll be honest, I didn’t ever click on any of the links because I didn’t really much care who Gilda whatsherface was anyway. I guess I would have been in on the joke earlier. It is the fault of my own laziness. I will admit I was turned off by what appear to be the filthy finger-marks on the back of the sheet of paper in the picture in the OP. I didn’t want to know about Gilda, or where her hands had been! :)

  85. Barauk Ale says:

    ZOMG! I just realized that the story of the 10 virgins is like totally made up. If you can’t trust Jesus, who can you trust?

  86. True. I’m just sorry he didn’t provide biographical information about each of the virgins in order to give it more plausibility.

  87. Barauk Ale says:

    You mean like the man who had two sons, and one went to a far country and spent his substance in riotous living? I think it is pretty shady for the prince of peace and savior of the world to have manipulated our emotions and made us feel compassion for people who aren’t even real.

  88. O My Goodness, I just clicked on the link at the end of the post and it has made my day! I am sooo ready to change timelines!

  89. BA: That’s not enough. I want to know the names of each of the sons, the name of the far country, if either of them had any particular talents or skills for which they had come to be known in the community. Perhaps one of the sons had an allergy to peanuts and nearly died at a young age, or was mentally incapacitated to some extent. We’ve got to make these fictional people seem real! ;-)

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