24 October 2006

The Spectral Illumination of Moonshine

Filed under: Genesis 1 — ktismatics @ 10:37 am


The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

I spent eight months writing a book about Genesis 1. After I finished I thought, naturally enough, about getting it published. As best I can tell, publication in the popular press isn’t so much about what you write as who you know. If you’re famous, people might buy your book. If you’re buddies with literary agents, one of them might go to bat for you. I’m not famous and I don’t know anybody in the biz. I thought maybe if I could generate some buzz about the book, then maybe I could catch some agent’s attention, the agent might catch a publisher’s attention…

Who, I wondered, is most likely to be interested in this new reading of Genesis 1? Well, the text sits at the center of the creation-versus-evolution firestorm. My exegesis is relevant to that debate, even though it’s not clear which side in the argument it supports. I concluded that perhaps the evangelicals stood to benefit the most. I’m offering a literal reading of Genesis 1 that doesn’t contradict modern astrophysics or evolutionary science – the only such reading that I’m aware of. Still, my exegesis reaches unconventional conclusions about the text. Are there any evangelicals out there who are prepared at least to entertain a radically different interpretation of the Genesis 1 narrative in order to preserve its literal truth?

It had been twenty years since I’d spent any time in evangelical circles. About three months ago I started browsing around the internet in search of something like a postmodern evangelicalism. To my surprise, I found such a thing almost immediately. And so I built this blog, posted up the exegesis portion of my book, and started trolling around the blogosphere seeking to engage the post-evangelicals in a discussion of my exegesis. If I could build up a constituency of supporters, or even a strong and vocal resistance, I might achieve enough visibility for getting the book noticed, published, read.

Egotistical, manipulative, unrealistic? Idealistic, overly cautious, unrealistic? Say what you will, my mad ambition has proven to be a fantasy. As far as I can tell not one person has actually read the entirety of the Genesis 1 exegesis that has been sitting on this blog from the beginning, the exegesis that was the reason for building the blog in the first place, the blog that was the impetus for me to undertake my peregrinations through the virtual world of the emerging postmodern church. Not only that, but I’ve come to believe that this avant-garde sector or evangelicalism wouldn’t be much interested in what I have to offer even if they saw it sitting on the new releases shelf at Barnes & Noble. Cutting-edge evangelicalism has moved away from dead center, but it’s moved in a direction that makes my work tangential at best.

I believe the exegesis is a good story if you immerse yourself in it long enough to let it get to you. But even if you can suspend your belief and engage your imagination long enough to see it, the whole thing is almost sure to evaporate into unreality once you step out of the story and back into the “real” world. While no one I know of has learned anything about Genesis 1 from my blog, I’ve learned a lot from the blogosphere. I’m now beginning to draw on that knowledge in a rewritten last section to my book. It’s called “The Spectral Illumination of Moonshine,” and it’s about why the story I’ve spun in the rest of the book will never become important in the world. It’s a melancholy ending I grant, but I believe I can occupy that mental space long enough to get the thing finished. Then, of course, comes the depressing prospect of approaching the literary marketplace without a platform – worse, without even the hope of a platform emerging in the future.

Most of the next installments of my blog will draw on this final section to the Genesis 1 book, which I’m writing right now (I took a break to put up this post). If you want to brush up before the next post, you might want to read the book summary. The lead-in goes like this:

We’ve spent lifetimes in the darkened theater, immersed in the story, watching an entire universe spin itself out of thin air around us. Maybe it’s all true: the exegesis, the elohimic ethos of creation, the emergence of civilization from the formless void, the ancient story itself. Reluctantly we leave our seats, walk up the aisle, step outside. The hard and merciless sun has set, and we’re grateful for it. How many new realities did we just witness: five? six? Where have they all gone? The moon gently guides us back to a world in which these creations play no part. The five or six creations haven’t been forgotten in this world: they never were, and almost surely they never will be…

Tomorrow: The Creation of Science.



  1. are you published? i tried to google you but there are way too many john doyles. grin. i read through about 1/2 of your summary and tried to leave a comment but i guess i clicked somewhere wrong. i have some decent publishing contacts – an agent and a few houses i have published for – and id be happy to give you their names etc. do you have a short summary and a formal proposal?


    Comment by stacy — 25 October 2006 @ 4:30 am

  2. Really? I’ll get in touch by email on this.


    Comment by ktismatics — 25 October 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  3. You can put my name on the pre-order list if the K-Man publishes!


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 25 October 2006 @ 7:33 pm

  4. Yea, the whole blogging thing is a fascinating phenomenon. I think most bloggers don’t have the time or attention span to wade through longer works that boarder on scholarship/academic.

    Most of my research that I have posted goes untouched, for the most part. (Crf. my “Aletheia Project”) I’m glad it is there, however, because it kind of gives me something to fall back on in case someone wants to really engage the issue. I can always crossreference my more academic works and have them at my findertips when I need to remember what it was I wrote! (I remember one time at a philosophy conference there were some philosophical bigwigs standing around chatting – and me just kind of pretending to know what was going on. I’ll never forget that one of them made a comment that they had forgotten most of what they had written in their book, which at that time was about 10 or 15 years old…He seemed quite serious, too!)

    But the best responses for bloggers seem to be more compact posts. Posts that we can digest in a short sitting.

    Your Genesis studies are very interesting. I hope you keep blogging on them.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 25 October 2006 @ 7:47 pm

  5. I don’t think I’d ever visited a blog before about 3 months ago, so I didn’t understand the protocols and traditions. Blog technology makes certain things possible that don’t happen in practice — like really long blog posts, or posts that continue to stimulate discussion for weeks. It’s surprising that bloggers will write about whole books that other people may not have read or have access to, but rarely interact with long internet texts that everyone can read. The hardware is too clunky for this kind of extended reading. I write and edit so much online I’m used to it, but it’s still hard to beat paper.

    I’ve found it remarkable how much work people put into their blogs, how hard it is to keep it fresh, how good the ideas and the writing are. Getting a feel for the kind of discourse that takes place on the different blogs, seeing characteristic perspectives of the bloggers and frequent commenters, getting to know interesting people — it’s been very enjoyable even if I didn’t achieve my original objective. I’m finding it hard to cut back!


    Comment by ktismatics — 25 October 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  6. carynewkirk7040.edublogs.org

    The Spectral Illumination of Moonshine | Ktismatics


    Trackback by carynewkirk7040.edublogs.org — 7 July 2019 @ 5:37 pm

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