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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-01-31 04:41
Subject: [writing] Mainspring and echoes of history
Security: Public
Music:hotel noises
Tags:books, mainspring, writing
ericjamesstone has pointed out to me something pretty interesting, which is to say that the opening of Mainspring Powell's | Amazon | Audible ] resembles Joseph Smith's experience of the Angel Moroni.
The angel gleamed in the light of Hethor’s reading candle bright as any brasswork automaton. The young man clutched his threadbare coverlet in the irrational hope that the quilted cotton scraps could shield him from whatever power had invaded his attic room. Trembling, he closed his eyes.


It no longer seemed made of brasswork. Rather, it looked almost human, save for the height, tall as his ceiling at the attic’s peak, close to seven feet. The great wings crowded the angel’s back to sweep close across its body like a cloak, feathers white as a swan. Its skin was pale as Hethor’s own, but the face was narrow, shaped like the nib of a fountain pen with a pointed chin and gleaming black eyes. The lines and planes of the angel’s visage were sheer masterwork, finer than the statues of saints in the great churches of New Haven.

Hethor held his breath, afraid to even share the air with such perfection. No dream, this, but perhaps yet a nightmare.

The angel smiled. For the first time it appeared to be more than a statue. “Greetings, Hethor Jacques.”
With voice came breath, though the angel’s scent was still that of a statue — cold marble and damp stone. Or perhaps old metal, like a well-made clock.

Hethor dropped his grip on the blanket to grab the chain around his neck and traced the wheel-and-gear of Christ’s horofixion. “G-g-greetings...” he stammered. “And welcome.” Though that last was a lie, he felt he must say it.

“I am Gabriel,” said the angel, “come to charge you with a duty.”
Meanwhile, from The History of Joseph Smith:
30 While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.

31 He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

32 Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.

33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.
As I said to ericjamesstone, I'm generally familiar with Smith's story, but not conversant with the details. There's certainly a symbolic language of the divine which I as a modern American have in common with the 19th century America of Joseph Smith — the culmination of millennia of Abrahamic art, culture and the religious experience which pervades the fabric of Western civilization. It's a striking parallel, but ultimately not enormously surprising.

What ericjamesstone is indirectly pointing out is the core irony of my body of fiction. As I said to daveraines when I first met him, I'm engaged in a decades-long argument with the God in which I don't believe. Meanwhile, I'm quite pleased to share a historical echo with Mr. Smith.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-01-31 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, right. I have my own opinions about what that book means -- to me, it is a critique of unreasoning faith in general and Creationism in particular. Which is why I find the reviews that criticize it as essentially Christian fanfic quite amusing. I mean, there's Neanderthals and australopithecines running around in this world...
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User: daveraines
Date: 2008-01-31 19:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
reviews that criticize it as essentially Christian fanfic

Probably means you did your job as an author well; avoiding stereotypes.

Okay, okay, I'm gonna have to buy this book.
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J.K.Richárd: cupojoe
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-01-31 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heavenly visitors goes further back than a millenia---but certainly I agree that this is a coincidence as you stated it: symbolic language of the divine.

I'm sure if we had a 100 people sit down and describe what an encounter with a divine entity would be we would find 99 very similar angelic-like creature encounter stories. Oh, and then there's the 1 athiest who refused to participate. :P

Quick! Someone scribe Mainspring out on metal plates so we can deify Jay.
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User: coppervale
Date: 2008-01-31 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow, Jay. I'm impressed. I'd thought it was a deliberate hat-tip. But to find it was just...synchronicity? Very cool.
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Paul Weimer: Eric--On Second Thought...
User: princejvstin
Date: 2008-01-31 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Eric--On Second Thought...
Interesting synchronicity. I was mentioning to Chris Roberson about the synchronicities between his new novel The Dragon Nine Suns, and the work of Thomas Harlan.

And then there are the sychonicities in a plot point in Blindsight and Dave Langford's Blit stories (Watts being unaware of the latter).

A historical synchronicity, especially by accident, is just as cool.

Edited at 2008-01-31 04:19 pm (UTC)
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User: daveraines
Date: 2008-01-31 19:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
decades-long argument with the God in which I don't believe

Jay... and Jacob! Coincidence? I think not! And notice Jacob wrestles beside a river - not a LAKE, but both are wet! Genesis 32:22-32, Q.E.D.!

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User: kmckiernan
Date: 2008-02-01 02:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ahhh... our subconscious minds and how they enjoy mucking with our conscious minds, eh?

I admit I'm more than a little interested in the concept of the universal mind, too.
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