15 March 2010

The Sage Speaks!

Filed under: Christianity, Fiction, First Lines, Genesis 1, Ktismata, Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:19 am

[UPDATED: Due to popular demand (well, it’s one guy actually, and it’s more a question than a demand), I offer not just one but three exciting installments!]

I’ve just finished rewriting and editing my book about Genesis 1, and I’m pretty pleased with it. What nearly 4 years ago was a 95,000-word treatise has been converted into a 35,000-word work of fiction. Here’s me reading the first two pages or so with only a few minor verbal fumbles…

The second installment is a re-edit of an old Ktismatics post from 2007

And here’s the third and final videotaped reading…



  1. Very cool! But I couldn’t follow it very well on first look, will listen some more and try to comprehend properly.


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 15 March 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  2. Once the narrative gets to multiple characters it’s harder to follow the shifts in speaker without seeing the words on the page. I should do voices. Finishing this book may deliver me again from religious thoughts, which I had previously forsaken for twenty years before falling off the wagon.


    Comment by john doyle — 15 March 2010 @ 8:59 pm

  3. That’s fascinating, John and a bit reminiscent… I’m pretty sure that my conservative brethren will be less than appreciative, but who knows, they might just get the point and find it an interesting interpretation. Are you going to serialize the readings on the tube or is this just a teaser?


    Comment by sam carr — 16 March 2010 @ 2:34 am

  4. Yes Sam, as you know I enjoy the conceit of a post-medieval monastic gathering, which we previously enacted in the Sir Toby’s posts at OST. The entire book is framed as a series of conversations and monologues taking place over seven days at the Inn. The interpretation of Gen. 1 offered by the Sage you’ve seen before. It’s actually compatible with Walton’s interpretation, which I’ve still not summarized here but still might.

    Anyhow, I Youtubed two more installments awhile back, which I’ve now appended to this post. I could read the whole book aloud in about 3 hours, but it’s surprisingly cumbersome to video, download, upload, etc. And while I do offer a dramatic screen presence, 3 hours of reading-aloud on-screen would tax any visitor’s patience. Of course I could post the whole book online much more easily, but in my prior experience blog readers don’t want that sort of thing. So I think 3 installments will suffice.


    Comment by john doyle — 16 March 2010 @ 9:12 am

  5. On a recent post at Larval Subjects, Levi wondered why anyone would worship a god who clearly hadn’t made the material universe. Asher Kay observed that even a non-creator deity can do nice or mean things to people, which might instill the motivation to worship. Levi kind of blew right by Asher’s point, but it’s actually covered on Day Six of my book. A consulting team comes in to the Inn to present ideas about how to re-envision the Judeo-Christian God no longer as the creator of the material universe but still an almighty being worthy of worship and subjection. Here’s part of Megan’s presentation to the monks that Asher might get a kick out of if he shows up here:

    The Almighty can communicate nonverbally with people. Telepathy just seems like a magic bullet: we need something that could actually work. Trasponders implanted directly into brains is the usual scifi solution, and we don’t see why that couldn’t do the trick. Still, we don’t usually hear of Christians being abducted by angels or whatever who perform the implant surgery. Some sort of remote stimulation of neural synapses is less invasive and perhaps even more effective than the implants.

    But how can the Almighty carry on millions of mental conversations simultaneously? This is where the idea of a godly collective or wide-area network comes in. Speculative, of course. We see no need to assume that the Almighty is limited to a single centralized consciousness, or even a trinitarian one. He might possess a widely distributed selfhood, enabled via some sort of nodes-and-branches architecture not unlike that of the human brain. Whether all these networked god-selves are part of a single entity is pretty much irrelevant, so long as they act in close cooperation with each other. Most people’s concept of selfhood is too limited to give serious consideration to alternatives that aren’t either singular or plural gods, so actively promoting the distributed-godhead idea might be a tough sell. It should be noted, however, that even if the Almighty actually had created the material universe, His ability to carry on millions of conversations at once isn’t adequately accounted for even in the traditional theologies. So we don’t think we’re facing a serious buy-in obstacle here.

    At this point our team had a breakthrough – an “aha” moment you might say. If the Almighty can communicate simultaneously with millions of people via some sort of wide-area network architecture, why couldn’t the nodes of this network be housed inside of human brains? There would be no need for transmitters and receivers to communicate with a remote location when your interlocutor is embedded in your own head. If so-called god-nodes are patched into human neurology, then this technology could also be used for promoting morality. Obedience to authority is less of an issue when the authority is internalized: we’ve known this for decades, but we’d not considered it in quite this high-tech way before. We’re accustomed to talking about creative inspiration. Inspiration means in-spirited. What if that’s literally true, and the spirit of the creator is hard-wired in? This trajectory is of course something we could explore further.


    Comment by john doyle — 16 March 2010 @ 9:31 am

    • This is abstruse in a peculiar way, I guess you want a more materilized Almighty, if you want to make sure that he cannot hold millions of conversations at one time? Because that always seemed what he’d surely do quite naturally in that position. I’ve even heard of it as ‘the Holy Spirit’ doing this part. The idea of a ‘hard-wired spirit’, whether or not the omnipotent one, is therefore interesting, but repellent in the extreme. In that case, Kurzweil and the Singularity folk do have a point: We might as well live either forever, for 5000 years, or both–because if the
      Almighty is hard-wired, and we meditate on this ‘saying of Confucius’ enough, then we might even decide ‘living on disk’, or whatever the fuck it’s called, is preferable to the funeral home. I really don’t think there’s much difference personally, although one of the best attributes of longevity is to be able to meditate on death a good deal, if it can be done without undue discomfort, so that it doesn’t seem so unnatural (despite its widespread popularity.) That’s the problem with death: You’re supposed to resist doing it and you’re also supposed to accept doing it–but I always get the feeling that the ‘acceptance’ is supposed to come as a series of jolts onto one’s person that render one powerless, both while still alive but miserable for awhile, and then full-on death, which relieves the living to such a degree that they usually don’t even thing cemeteries are legitimate features of landscapes, you know, what with ‘the little lives’ being lived there, so quietly and with so little ‘wasted space.’


      Comment by quantity of butchness — 16 March 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    • “Here’s part of Megan’s presentation to the monks that Asher might get a kick out of if he shows up here”

      I get an especially big kick out of it due to being currently embroiled in a large and futile software design project. The consulting team *would* come in on day six. And they would make changes that required fundamental refactoring of the design. The conceptual excitement would be contagious.

      It would be funny, I think, to re-write Genesis as a functional spec. Or maybe not.

      I only got to listen to the first installment so far. It’s really cool to see you read it in person. I agree with whoever said you need to do voices, though. Even if they’re understated, they’d make the dialogue easier to follow. Having read The Stations, I have to say that in written form, I really tended to take my time with your writing, often stopping to ponder some aspect of what you were talking about or mentally riffing on one of your metaphors. That’s the drawback of a verbal reading, I guess.


      Comment by Asher Kay — 17 March 2010 @ 8:13 am

  6. “repellent in the extreme”

    I agree, and I suspect that the Sage does too. It’s intentionally very Kurzweilian.

    “living on disk”

    That’s part of the consultants’ proposal as well, combined with cloning of course, for how a non-creator god might be able to assure his followers of eternal life — or the nearest thing to it given that the universe will eventually become a cold dead husk.


    Comment by john doyle — 16 March 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  7. “The consulting team *would* come in on day six.”

    If the contract only goes through day seven, they need to come in with proposals for redesigns, enhancements, and so on to keep the meter running at least through day 14. It’s always easier to extend an existing gig than to get a new one.

    Doing the reading was a nod to the presumed original context of the Gen. 1 story, which was probably passed down orally for generations before anyone wrote it down. I opted for an archaic writing style, with fairly long and convoluted sentences even in dialogue, which doesn’t lend itself as easily to listening as does short punchy dialogue. Scenes involving multiple people are difficult to describe in writing anyway. There’s a definite advantage to acting cluttered scenes out on stage or camera — show don’t tell. But ultimately this book is meant to be read rather than listened to or watched: it was just fun to make my little home videos.


    Comment by john doyle — 17 March 2010 @ 8:31 am

    • Oh, I forgot to mention… I boldly go for a bit of impersonation toward the end of the second installment.


      Comment by john doyle — 17 March 2010 @ 8:56 am

  8. Some line drawing impressions of these scenes might be apropos, the sort that helped make myths ‘come alive’ to me as a young reader, even if initially in just two dimensions. Your modeling of the eclipse comes to mind.


    Comment by sam carr — 17 March 2010 @ 12:19 pm

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