Friday, June 26, 2015

[DC013] Conclusion

Previous: [DC012] Creepy Woody: Polymorphous Perversity

                There are still many aspects of otaku culture and the otaku industry that have yet to receive proper critical analysis. In this series, I have looked at only one company which only produces one type of product.  But the otaku marketplace is a vast and diverse field, with a bewildering array of products and services. In looking at Kaiyodo, I hope to have established a first step in using the Database Consumption Model to understand the otaku marketplace in its entirety, not just conventionally narrative goods like video games and anime.

                And the Database Consumption Model does seem to have great utility in understanding the history and products of Kaiyodo. From the social Grand Narrative concerns of founder Miyawaki Osamu to the fictional Grand Narrative concerns of Miyawaki Shūichi, from Art Plastic to databasified Revoltech figures, Azuma's model has great predictive and explanatory power for toy companies as well as narrative goods.

                There are discrepancies between Azuma's periodization and Kaiyodo's company history, mostly caused by limitations on Kaiyodo's part in capital and technology. The cost of metal forms provided a high barrier to production for Kaiyodo in its early years, an obstacle that was not overcome until the development of the Vacuum Mold process. Falling costs of materials and labor (in addition to the investment capital raised by the production of garage kits) allowed Kaiyodo to overcome these limitations and produce metal forms of their own.

                While concerns for social history and artistic integrity remained central to Kaiyodo's corporate philosophy, the company followed the model of the anime industry in outsourcing mass production to China, taking advantage of cheap materials and labor. The significance of technology and capital for the otaku industry is something left undeveloped by Azuma. Further examination of the role of technology and capital may reveal important implications for the industry as a whole, not just toys.

                Although Azuma looks at post-modern consumption in very different terms from critics such as Okada, Allison, and Lukács, some intriguing similarities emerge. As much as Okada may lament the “death of otaku,” his doom-saying reveals an essential agreement that something essential has changed in the subculture. While Okada portrays it as a death resulting from the weaknesses and inadequacies of moe fans, Azuma understands it as a shift in how consumers relate to products and to society.
                And these are by no means contradictory arguments. Okada and Azuma are both pointing out the death of a Grand Narrative, of the idea of normativity in the otaku subculture. Azuma, having no particular attachment to this subcultural Grand Narrative, is simply more able to note its passing without mourning than the self-styled “Otaking.”

                One question that still needs to be better explored is how the Database Model applies outside of the otaku subculture. After all, Azuma's goal was understanding Japanese society by looking at otaku. I have advanced Gabriella Lukács' work on trendy dramas and tarento as one possible example of Database Consumption outside of the world of otaku, but trendy drama are still another primarily (though non-traditional) narrative good.
                How does the Database Model apply to non-narrative goods like clothing, food, and so on? If, as Azuma claims, there is no difference between narratives and coffee mugs, what about narratives and staple goods such as coffee and rice? Certainly, narratives of health, safety, and self-sufficiency play an important role in the domestic Japanese agricultural industry and in international food trends. The key words of “organic,” “local,” “all-natural,” and so on can be considered a form of narrative that transcends the food items themselves.

                Moreover, how does the Database Model apply outside of Japan? There are tantalizing hints of this in the internationalization of Revoltech Woody, or the philosophies of play in Toy Story and The Lego Movie, but these are mere glimpses, not the whole picture. Is it appropriate to look at the “English-speaking internet” and the “Japanese-speaking internet,” as if all English-speaking cultures were the same?  Where does Japan end?
                While we have discussed some aspects of how Database Consumption may operate outside of Japan, we are still far from having settled the question. Allison takes a more international view that Azuma, looking at the reception of Japanese goods both inside and outside of Japan. However, her “polymorphous perversity” has considerable overlap with Azuma's Database Consumption. Both describe the death of cultural narratives, of the single, unified self, of the bold line between the consumer and the product. While there still may be crucial distinctions between the Japanese and international markets, the runaway success of Japanese cultural goods described by Allison indicates that these differences may not be as big as we thought.
                In my opinion, the most surprising thing about the Database Model was its predictive power in explaining the transformation of Pixar's Woody into the consumer-created Creepy Woody.  The manipulation of plastic Database elements, the desire on the part of consumers for modularity, the creation of a new character simulacra from the component parts of old characters - this is a clear example of Database Consumption, that apparently works just as well outside Japan as within.

                It may be strange to fill the Conclusions section with so many unanswered questions, but I believe that this is the best conclusion that can be come to: despite the promising information gleaned from looking at Kaiyodo and the Revoltech brand, there are still many aspects of Database Consumption that have not been fully developed. The conclusion is that there are still many, many questions.

                But this is a strength of the Database Model, not a shortcoming. It was developed to answer what was considered a very strange question at the time: just what are these otaku? Any model that can answer so many questions while opening doors to newer, stranger ones is one worthy of serious consideration. As the otaku become less of a subculture and more of a part of mainstream society, these questions will only become more pertinent. Okada may rightfully claim that “you otaku are dead,” but this is largely because so much of post-modern culture has become otaku-like. While Grand Narratives are dying, databasified small narratives are becoming increasingly important to daily life, whether in the form of the Japan Brand's redefining of Japan or a child's personal interactions with a Pokémon.
                While some may fear the effects of animalization and the radical reorientation of self and society, as Hegel pointed out, the end of the Modern Era does not mean the end of meaning, but rather a new form of meaning. The Hegelian hope is for a society that combines rationality and sittlichkeit, a new normativity based not on an assumption of how the world eternally is, but on rational decisions about how it can be. Database Consumption is part of this meaning-making, and a better understanding of it means a better understanding of this process and what it means for our future.

Monday, June 15, 2015

[DC012] Creepy Woody: Polymorphous Perversity

Previous: [DC011] Sci-Fi Revoltech Series No. 010 Woody:Plastic Databases

Disclaimer: My intention in this section is not to make light of rape/sexual assault, but to examine the evolution of Creepy Woody as an internet phenomena. Call it unfortunate or call it a necessity, but this means examining images that do make light of rape/sexual assault/etc. So trigger warnings and such.
                With two re-printings already under its belt, Revoltech Woody is one of the most successful Kaiyodo figures and certainly the most internationally well-known. Released in July of 2010, the figure, intended only for the Japanese domestic market, was by August already on its way to international notoriety under a variety of monikers. 

                The most widely used name in English is “Creepy Woody,” followed by “Hentai Woody,” “Revoltech Woody” and lastly, the name most antithetical to everything that Pixar's down-to-earth hero stood for, “Rape Face Woody.” While “Rape Face” is the least frequently used English name, consumer recreation and play using Revoltech Woody has, on the internet at least, very much centered on themes of rape, sexual deviancy, and all around “creepiness.”
                In Japan, the three most popular terms are (in no particular order) warudakurami uddi (悪企みウッディ/Evil Plan Woody), hentai uddi (変態ウッディ/Hentai Woody), and riborutekku uddi (リボルテックウッディ/Revoltech Woody). It is interesting that Hentai Woody” is used in both languages, though it is difficult to determine what significance to attach to this. Is the Japanese term popular in English because English-speaking consumers assign a Japanese identity to the toy or is the term used simply in imitation of the Japanese consumers who first had access to the figure? At most, we can perhaps use it of an example of the extent to which the term “hentai” has been adopted by English-speaking internet users.

                Where did this narrative of rape and sexual deviancy come from? It was certainly not from Pixar, and it seems unlikely that Kaiyodo, with their rigid adherence to accurate representation and the ideal of models as vehicles for cultural heritage, would intentionally distort Woody's character. Is this distasteful narrative purely the creation of an international group of morally deviant otaku?

                The roots of Creepy Woody, surprisingly enough, lie in the movie Toy Story itself, that is to say, with Pixar's Woody. In an early scene in the movie, Woody has some fun at Buzz's expense by pointing and shouting “Buzz, look, an alien!” Buzz, who still believes himself to be an actual Space Ranger, looks around Andy's room for the non-existent extraterrestrial, much to Woody's amusement.
The origin of the "Evil Plan" face
                Pixar's Woody's face of amusement apparently struck a chord with Revoltech Woody sculptor Matsumoto Eiichirō. It served as the basis for Revoltech Woody's alternate face, which came to be known as the “warudakurami kao,” the “evil plan face” apparently conveying Woody's “evil plan” to trick Buzz.

"Smiling Face" and "Evil Plan Face"
                The sense is one of a childish joke, a mischievous scheme. Pixar's Woody is perhaps taking advantage of Buzz's naiveté, no lasting harm is done – or so it appears. In truth, Woody's lapse of conscience has started him down a slippery slope of moral degradation, which ends in the troubling narrative of “Rape Face Woody.” As Sir Walter Scott warned, “Oh what a tangled web we weave/when first we practise to deceive!”

                In discussing the “Evil Plan” face, we must remember that it appears on screen for less than a second as part of a series of humorous facial contortions. But once the face is isolated from that sequence of rapidly moving pictures and cast into unmoving plastic, it takes on something of a sinister aspect. It looks less like a smile and more like a leer. No longer doubled over in audible laughter, Revoltech Woody now gazes silently at us rather than Buzz.

                Once the laughing face is taken out of its original context, the joke suddenly lacks a concrete target. It becomes up to the consumer to decide just what Revoltech Woody is laughing at, the direction of his eyes and the object of his scorn. Is he laughing or is he leering? What evil plans lurk beneath the eyes of Revoltech Woody? Only the consumer can decide.
Typical "Creepy Woody" image
                Consumers wasted no time in creating their own narratives with Revoltech Woody, narratives very much at odd with those of Pixar and Revoltech. These new narratives took two forms. First, Revoltech Woody was physically disassembled and combined with different parts from the Revolver Joint database. In some cases, consumers physically modified these parts and/or combined them with parts from non-Kaiyodo toys. Revoltech Woody was reassembled and placed into dioramas with other toys. 

                Second, consumers used cameras and image editing software to create electronic images which were shared via the internet with other consumers. It was this form of Revoltech Woody which became the nexus of a fan-created character: Creepy Woody.
                 Creepy Woody has a versatile range. His consumer-created narratives run the gamut from the amusing, the disturbing, the pornographic, the violent, and everything in-between. They take the form of still images taken with cameras, stop-motion animations created by continuously posing and reposing the figure, multi-panel comics, and Western-style memes made with images and text. He poses with other Revoltech figures, but also with Nendoroids, figmas, Western action figures, live animals, and with human beings.

                These increasingly outlandish narratives of social and sexual deviancy preserve elements of Woody's original database while combining them with new and bizarre elements. Many of the images reference Woody's identity as a cowboy by having him “lasso” other characters. Others, such as the one shown above, reference lines from Toy Story, only now given a sinister meaning as he accosts a Persona 3 figma.
                Space does not allow us to examine even a fraction of the Creepy Woody images which have proliferated on the internet. There are hundreds, if not thousands them, many of which can be found on both English and Japanese language websites. Many of them are shockingly inappropriate. However, there are a few common threads that can be easily picked out.

                First, Creepy Woody is most frequently used in conjunction with similarly constructed toys. Revoltech, Nendoroid, and figma action figures all come with multiple parts that can be assembled and reassembled in much the same fashion as Revoltech Woody. This wide selection of database elements makes it easier for consumers to construct original narratives in ways which would not be possible with “regular” toys. Even when non-posable toys or non-toy objects are used, it is the versatility of Revoltech Woody that initially makes the consumer's narrative possible.
Woody vs. Creepy Woody
                Second, Creepy Woody has a distinct personality from Pixar's Woody or even Revoltech Woody which emerged from these uncoordinated consumer narratives. His personality is extreme, offensive, and socially deviant, but it is also remarkably consistent despite there being no single authoritative “author” who defines how he should behave. Rather, there is an informal network of consumers which have collectively created behavioral patterns which transcend place, time, and language.

                Creepy Woody is a vile, depraved individual, but he has the same depraved personality in both Japanese and English. In Toy Story, a toy's personality is informed both by “official” corporate narratives and by interaction with the consumer. Andy's toy Woody has a distinct self-hood independent from the wooden puppet of Woody's Roundup. Creepy Woody is consumed as a new character, created by Revoltech database consumers and established by their collective social recognition.
                Third, Creepy Woody is consumed by both Japanese and Western consumers in a way that is compatible with Azuma's Database Consumption theory. The modularity of the Revoltech figure, already broken down into a number of moe elements, encourages disassembly and reconstruction very much in line with the process of breaking down visual novel data to create new narratives or breaking down the moe elements of anime characters to create the Tinami search engine. The moe, the emotional connection and affection clearly extends to the individual elements that make up Creepy Woody (i.e. the “creepy” face) even when completely divorced from the figure of Revoltech Woody and juxtaposed with elements very different from what the sculptor intended.

Creepy Woody beyond plastic
                The idea of Creepy Woody has even transcended the original Kaiyodo figure, the plastic physical object. The “creepy” face of Creepy Woody is referenced in images without any toys in them at all, and his facial expression has been transferred onto other characters. What began as an oddly contorted laughing face and became a particular plastic object has at last become a semantic shorthand for sociopathic sexual deviancy.
Cross-dresser? Transgender?
                In line with Allison's polymorphous perversity, Creepy Woody is gender-queer. He is portrayed not just as a heterosexual male deviant, but as a cross-dresser, as a female, as a homosexual, as a sadist, as a masochist, as an infinitely expanding spectrum of any and all forms of sexuality imaginable. Allison claims that the “money shot” for Power Rangers or Kamen Rider are the mechanical details of their trans-human forms, the “bodily secrets” that allow their perverse transformation (107). Similarly, the money shot for Creepy Woody images is that same power to transcend bodily specificity and transform into new, perverse forms.

                Perhaps one of the most interesting features of Creepy Woody is how thoroughly he has displaced the original narratives encoded in Revoltech Woody for Western audiences. Since the cultural and technical information on Revoltech Woody's packaging is written in Japanese, this information is lost to non-Japanese audiences. The First and Second Generation concerns are effectively no longer present, so Revoltech Woody is almost entirely branded as a Third Generation product.

                Since Revoltech Woody was not intended for international sale, non-Japanese consumers wishing to purchase it generally rely on online sellers to acquire the product. Searching Amazon for “Creepy Woody” brings up Revoltech Woody as the first result. Consumer reviews emphasize that, yes, this is “that Woody.” While some reviewers do mention the high level of technical detail, the most conspicuous reason given for interest in the product is that it is “Creepy Woody,” not that it is “Revoltech Woody.”

                This then, is the curious case of Revoltech Woody. While it would be difficult to argue that the international reception of Revoltech Woody “proves” that the world outside Japan has also moved into the Era of Animalization, it does at least show that Japanese and English-speaking consumers were able to recognize the same Database elements without reference to language. Though we might debate the relative databasification of Western and Japanese societies, there is at the very least a similar mechanism at work among English-speaking consumers.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I Could Never Get the Hang of Last Thursdays: Thoughts on Omphalos

                I’ve mentioned my fondness for white supremacist literature before on this blog, but this love affair with fringe belief systems is by no means limited to racialism. It’s the Otherness of white supremacy that interests me, not any inherent value in the system itself. If it’s from a perspective radically different from my own, I want to read it, whether it’s from Esoteric Hitlerism, Zurvanism, or Ahmadiyya.

                So when I came across Philip Henry Gosse’s Omphalos:An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot, I knew I absolutely had to read it. Written in 1857 (a mere two years before Darwin’s Origin of the Species), Omphalos attempts to resolve discrepancies between the Genesis account of creation and the apparent age of the Earth.
                I was drawn to Omphalos by a sense of historical curiosity – what sort of arguments would a 19th century Creationist pull out against the still-developing theory of evolution? After all, this debate is by no means dead. Creationism and Intelligent Design supporters still push for the inclusion of their beliefs in science textbooks, write books attacking holes in evolutionary theory, build museums propounding the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs.

                Although biological evolution was still a gleam in Darwin’s eye, Gosse’s contemporaries were already well aware that the geological makeup of the Earth indicated it was much, much older than 6,000 or so years. So how does our 19th century Creation Scientist stack up against those of the 21st Century?
                As it turns out, surprisingly well. Mr. Gosse’s work was widely lambasted at the time of its release and is still occasionally held up as an example of anti-scientific writing, but I think it deserves a bit of reevaluation.

                The first thing that Mr. Gosse does better than the current crop of Creation Scientists is recognizing the self-evident facts of geology. I still remember my old Bob Jones University science textbook which claimed the entire fossil record could be explained by Noah’s flood. Mr. Gosse will have none of this – the successive layers of top soil, sandstone, limestone, coal, etc. could clearly only have developed over massive epochs of time.
                Moreover, looking at the successive layers of fossils in these beds of rock clearly shows individual species rising up, dying off, and being replaced by new species. While Mr. Gosse refrains from speculating on the mechanism by which these species develop (although he seems familiar with a proto-Darwinian argument), he also recognizes that the fossil record indicates massive change over time. Microbes are followed by invertebrates, are followed by fish and so on.

                The fossil record also indicates that these were real, living creatures, not fossils buried by the Devil or God to test humanity’s faith. These are not Dinosaur Model Kits, but the remains of once-living creatures. The bones have marks where the muscles and tendons would attach, predators are found buried next to their victims, with tooth marks and fractures indicating a struggle. Also, fossilized poop.
                This is where Mr. Gosse truly shines in comparison to run-of-the-mill Creationists: he acknowledges the evidence as it stands, and acknowledges that the evidence points toward an Old Earth. He does not attack proto-Darwinianism as a scientific cult, or as just a theory, but as a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence. In fact, it would be the best interpretation of the available evidence – if not for one thing.

                And this one thing is where things get weird.
                Mr. Gosse believed that the small element which throws the theories of Creationists and proto-Darwinists off course is the distinction between what he terms prochronic and diachronic age.

                Let’s say we have two chickens; one hatched from an egg two years ago and the other created by God ex nihilo one hour ago. We then bring in a chicken expert (perhaps a seasoned chicken farmer or an eminent Chickenologist) and ask her to estimate the age of these two chickens.
                So our Chickenologist examines the chickens for signs of age – the thickness of their beaks, their number of feathers, the length of their claws, and so on with the other commonly accepted marks of chicken age. Having concluded her examination, the Chickenologist declares that both chickens are at least two years old – maybe slightly older, but certainly no younger.

                In this example, our Chickenologist would be incorrect. One of the chickens was created, in all of its full-grown chickeny glory, only one hour ago. It may have all of the physical distinctions of a two-year-old chicken, but this is in appearance only.

                The distinction would be that the first chicken existed for two years in diachronic time, which is to say, within our shared space-time. The second was created with prochronic age - the marks normally indicating age that would still necessarily exist on an ex nihilo adult chicken.

                Now, Creationism aficionados may be familiar with a version of this argument under the term “appearance of age.” Essentially, the argument is that when God created the universe, He created it to “appear” old. So when we see light from a star that appears to have travelled millions of years, it has only actually existed for six thousand. Adam was created as an adult, despite never having been an infant.

                What I think sets Mr. Gosse apart is his presentation of the theory. The bulk of the book is given over to extremely detailed and erudite descriptions of the life-stages of various plants and animals and how necessary it would be to create them with the marks of age. Take, for example, his description of Alsophila tree-fern:

                "You can have no doubt that every one of these scars indicates where a leaf has grown, where it has waved its time, and whence, after death and decay, it at length sloughed away…These scars, then, are ocular demonstrations of former fronds; we may no more doubt that fronds were once growing from these spots, than we may that the green and leafy arches were once coiled up in a circinate vernation. They are the record of the past history of this organism, and they evidently reach far back into time… Now there are about a dozen unfolded or unfolding, as many withering midribs, and about a hundred and fifty leaf-scars that we can count with ease… I have no hesitation, then, in pronouncing this plant to be thirty years old; it is probably much older, but it is, at least, as old as this.
                I’ve had to cut down his descriptions to the bare minimum because of the insane amount of detail Mr. Gosse put into his age estimation criteria. There are pages and pages and pages upon pages of these technical evaluations. Check out this section on horse teeth:

                The third pair of permanent incisors have appeared, and have attained the same level as their fellows; all are marked with a central hollow on the crown, the middle pair faintly: the canines have acquired considerable size; they present a regularly-convex surface outwardly, without any marks of grooving on the sides; their inner side is concave; their edges sharp; the third permanent molar has displaced its predecessor of the milk set, and the sixth is developed.
                This condition of the teeth infallibly marks the fifth year of the Horse's age. A year ago the third incisor was only just rising; the canines were small, and strongly grooved, and the third milk grinder was yet existing. A year hence, the central incisors will be worn quite flat, and their marks obliterated; the canines will be fully grown tusks, the second molar will have reached its full height, and all the teeth will be of the same level. We can then with perfect confidence assert this to be a five-year old Horse. And yet, if we do so, we shall assert a palpable untruth, for the young and vigorous stallion has been created to-day.”

                The argument is less “a wizard did it” and more that if there is a God, and if He created the Earth and all life on it, it would be necessary to create it with fully mature organisms that had all of the marks of maturity.
                Furthermore, if we conceive of the Earth itself as a single organism, it too would necessarily have marks of maturity, just as surely as an Alsophila or a horse. After all, without fully functioning atmospheric, oceanic, tectonic, and other systems, life would have ended as suddenly as it was created.

                So the proto-Darwinians are right – prochronically speaking, the Earth is millions of years old. It is an adult planet, created in the fully mature state necessary to support life. Mr. Gosse even encourages thinking of the Earth as ancient, in the same sense that we would describe Adam as a fully grown man. “It is clear, then, that at the selected stage it appears, exactly as it would have appeared at that moment of its history... Just as the new-created Man was, at the first moment of his existence, a man of twenty, or five-and-twenty, or thirty years old; physically…though not really, not diachronically.
                We can say with certainty that movements of glaciers, the birth of mountains and so on do in fact take millions of years – were they to happen within time. “The character and order of the strata; their disruptions and displacements and injections; the successive floras and faunas; and all the other phenomena, would be facts still. They would still be, as now, legitimate subjects of examination and inquiry. I do not know that a single conclusion, now accepted, would need to be given up, except that of actual chronology. And even in respect of this, it would be rather a modification than a relinquishment of what is at present held.”

                Perhaps most interestingly, Mr. Gosse anticipates the argument of “Last Thursdayism,” which claims the Universe was created in its present state last Thursday as a sarcastic counterpoint to Creationism. After all, if the universe can be created with the appearance of age, how can we know it was not created as recently as last Thursday? To this, Mr. Gosse posits:

                Let us suppose that this present year 1857 had been the particular epoch in the projected life-history of the world, which the Creator selected as the era of its actual beginning. At his fiat it appears; but in what condition? Its actual condition at this moment:—whatever is now existent would appear, precisely as it does appear. There would be cities filled with swarms of men; there would be houses half-built; castles fallen into ruins… These and millions of other traces of the past would be found, because they are found in the world now; they belong to the present age of the world… they are inseparable from the condition of the world at the selected moment of irruption into its history; because they constitute its condition; they make it what it is.”
                Or in other words, Mr. Gosse flips the question on its head: if the world were to have been created last Thursday (that being June 11th, 2015 at the time of my writing), it would have to be created in a complete state appropriate for June 11th, 2015. How else would you create the world of Last Thursday if not in the state of Last Thursday?

                Now this line of argument tells us nothing about whether or not the universe was created on June 11th, 2015 (or indeed, October 22nd, 4004 BC). Mr. Gosse admits as much. A planet which has existed for millions of years would be, in all physical senses, the same as a planet which has existed 6,000 years but was created in a mature state.
                Of course, this argument presupposes belief in supernatural agencies (i.e., a God to create the world), but it also allows for a sort of logical relief valve. It does not prove that the Earth was created as a fully mature unit, but it does provide a reason for the Earth to be created as a mature unit. Just as a fully mature tree requires rings and fully developed root systems, a fully mature world requires a fully developed tectonic system – with marks of age.

                To the physiologist this is obvious; but some unscientific reader may say, Could not God have created plants and animals without these retrospective marks? I distinctly reply, No! not so as to preserve their specific identity with those with which we are familiar. A Tree-fern without scars on the trunk! A Palm without leaf-bases! A Bean without a hilum! A Tortoise without laminæ on its plates! A Carp without concentric lines on its scales! A Bird without feathers! A Mammal without hairs, or claws, or teeth, or bones, or blood! A Fœtus without a placenta! I have indeed written the preceding pages in vain, if I have not demonstrated, in a multitude of examples, the absolute necessity of retrospective phenomena in newly-created organisms.
                Extending this argument to the fossil record, Mr. Gosse’s argument is that a fully mature Earth would have to have a fully mature fossil record:

                Who will say that the suggestion, that the strata of the surface of the earth, with their fossil floras and faunas, may possibly belong to a prochronic development of the mighty plan of the life-history of this world,—who will dare to say that such a suggestion is a self-evident absurdity? If we had no example of such a procedure, we might be justified in dealing cavalierly with the hypothesis; but it has been shown that, without a solitary exception, the whole of the vast vegetable and animal kingdoms were created,—mark! I do not say may have been, but MUST have been created—on this principle of a prochronic development, with distinctly traceable records. It was the law of organic creation.”
                As it turns out, pretty much everyone dared to say Mr. Gosse’s suggestion was a self-evident absurdity. It was shouted from the laboratories to the sanctuaries, from the lecterns to the pulpits. And yet, this criticism may be too harsh. While Mr. Gosse perhaps proves nothing, he at the very least makes a plausible argument for why the Earth would be created with the appearance of age and why this should not be considered deceptive.

                Compared to the bulk of the Creationists of the present day, whose focus lies more on attacking the evidence uncovered, Mr. Gosse did his best to support and accept the science of his day while holding fast to his belief in “the Adorable Workmaster.” It is a one of the most amicable compromises between faith and reason that I have personally read, and one worthy of emulation in spirit if not in particulars.
                If you are interested in checking out Mr. Gosse's maligned classic for yourself, the full text is available on Project Gutenberg, complete with its excellent woodblock images of flora and fauna.

"We have no experience in the creation of worlds."