Failed metaphors of failure

After looking back at some of the embarrassing language I use in my review of Irreantum 9.2/10.1 — words like “trinket” and “cul-de-sacs of meaning” — it occurs to me that I should just get all these failed metaphors of the failure of Mormon letters out of my system now so I won’t plaque you with them in the future.

So here it goes:

1. Mormon literature is like that Kafka quote about the axe and the frozen sea, except with a tub of Jello and a rubber mallet instead.

2. Mormon poetry is like the cute but slightly overweight girl (or guy) you meet at youth conference and end up hanging with the whole weekend and then make sure to dance with several times at every stake and multi-stake dance that year, but never contact or really even think about in between dances.

3. Mormon genre fiction is like a cheap knock-off of a counterfeit Louis Vuitton bag.

4. Mormon literature isn’t athletic enough to be a jock, emo enough to be a freak, funky enough to be ethnic, or well-dressed enough to be preppie.

5. Mormon creative non-fiction is like the overt overuse of alliteration in a conference talk.

6. Mormon journals are like the people at work who always bug you with “we need better lines of communication” or “well, has everyone gone over the business plan” or “we need to rewrite our mission and vision” or “we’re still looking for volunteers to be emergency building coordinators” or “want to sign up for our potluck/fun run/food drive” or “how will this lead to greater synergy in the organization.”

7. Mormon short stories are like that woman at work who still thinks her first generation pink Motorola Razr is cool.

8. Mormon bloggers are like the kid in the back of your first grad school class that gives every single text and every single discussion a Marxist/Lacanian/Feminist/Jungian/Reader Response reading.

9. Mormon novels are the Trader Joe’s of the world of crafted, sourced gourmet food. Or maybe Cost Plus World Market is better because Trader Joe’s has some humor in the way it markets.

10. Mormon literature is that turquoise and coral bead necklace your aunt gave for Christmas one year that you really want to like and maybe even wear, but for some reason it just stays at the bottom of your jewelery box and gets tangled up with the Young Womanhood Recognition Medallion and the cheap charm bracelet your first boyfriend gave you.

11. Mormon film is like that one time you and your companion taught the first discussion to a couple that were clearly not married, not interested and most likely stoned.

12. Mormon criticism is that one guy in IT who is a major Linux/open source enthusiast/evangelist in an organization that uses Microsoft everything.

13. Mormon literature is klezmer without the Jewish history and Gypsy-ness, polka without the irony, speed metal without the virtuoso guitar work, twee pop without the hip pop cultural references, post-punk without the politics, modern R&B without the AutoTune.

Okay, I think I’m done. Feel free to add your own.

24 thoughts on “Failed metaphors of failure”

  1. I don’t have any to add, but I really enjoyed your list! =)

    Mormon Poetry is my favorite one. Verra nice!

    Oh, what the heck, here, let me give it a shot:

    Mormon romance novels are like sugar-free chocolate treats – initially sweet and oh-so-innocent, but ultimately leave you craving something with a little more sugar, baby.

  2. .

    I don’t think I can top this. Not without relying on my standby words of sandwich, chicken or monkey.

  3. Failed metaphors of failure are BYU co-eds who believe that two plus two equals five, and that Teddy Roosevelt is buried in Grant’s tomb.

  4. Quite the similitudes.

    What about blogs, Wm? Give us one for Mormon blogs.

  5. Hilarious, Wm. Even my wife, whose only interest in Mormon literature right now is Twilight, laughed at the ones I read to her.

    Here’s one of my own on Mormon blogs (maybe not as funny as yours, but it’s an attempt):

    Mormon blogs are like those family reunions where you play silly games with people you claim to know and like, but really don’t, because, quite frankly, most of them are annoying as hell; but you go back year after year because you’re deeply loyal to your family (however deeply flawed they are) and because of that one second cousin who tells great jokes and laughs at your lame ones and who agrees that your Great Uncle Joe’s combover looks like the roadkill you saw on your way up the canyon and smells just as bad.

  6. I think that’s perfect, actually. Although I might toss in something about greasy fried chicken and cheap soda.

  7. Good add in Wm. How’s this: Mormon blogs are like those family family reunions where you share greasy fried chicken, drink cheap, stale soda, and play silly games with people you…

    And another one, since you got me thinking about these:

    Mormon literature is like that girl/boy in your ward you never really noticed until you became teenagers and, because s/he was almost beautiful/handsome and almost your type, you developed a Sunday/mutual night obsession for them–one you (at first) forgot about during the week but that came back a bit stronger each Sunday/mutual night when you sat behind them and teased them until you eventually had to admit to your friends that, okay, you liked them a little, but not enough to go out on any real dates with them; but then, as time went by, you became more and more excited to see them and eventually couldn’t hide your obsession any longer (even from yourself) and you started sitting beside them at church, then holding hands, then”¦

  8. Great ending MoJo. I got stuck myself, so I just left it there, but I like your ending better.

  9. Love it. As the evangelical linux user you’re totally right. I would add this though:

    Mormon themed plays and musicals like Saturday’s Warrior and Abinadi the Opera are like a bad car wreck, as bad as you feel about staring at it while you drive by, you can’t look away.

  10. Mormon cinema is that guy on the ward basketball team who shows up to games with goggles and $200 sneakers, but because he has the muscle tone of a tension ball, he ends up sweating gravy like it’s a personal challenge (but not a personal challenge like home teaching, let’s make that distinction right now). He does a half hour of stretching and power-breathing such that by the time play starts, he’s taking the whole thing so seriously that everyone is kind of uncomfortable at the idea of playing with him, particularly his own teammates, because they know that if they don’t box out or fail to thread the needle through all five defenders when he’s “open” under the bucket, his righteous indignation will be sharper than a two-edged sword, even — like his defense or hustle plays — to the dividing asunder of both the joints and marrow, not because he’s necessarily a bad guy, but because he just doesn’t seem to value safeguarding the priesthood as much as he values jeopardizing it.

  11. Nice one, ET.


    I don’t know if that comment is directed at me Palm Springs LDS, but no, I don’t have a hard time making it through the Ensign every month.

    It’s true that sometimes the art direction makes me cringe. But I have also complimented and applauded recent choices made by the Ensign editors.

  12. Mormon culture is like the sibling you can’t help making fun of but if any one else does, you kind of want to wallop them.

    This is probably why I’m having a hard time with this list.

    Although the one about Mormon bloggers made me laugh out loud.

  13. I do consider every single item on the list to be kin and, yeah, some are even siblings.

  14. William, it’s a great list, but I’m afraid Katherine Morris’s addition takes the cake.

    Though I’d add that blogs like this one are like that after-the-meeting conversation you can’t leave just because it’s so interesting, even though (a) you really should be going home and doing something that might actually pay some bills, and (b) you’re afraid that each time you open your mouth you’re only proving to everyone else just how ignorant you really are.

    And of William’s original list, the one about Mormon poetry (#2) is both cruel and true. And funny.

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