Saturday 26 January 2008

My Trilobite Ring

A few years ago, while shopping in The Museum Company at the mall, my fiancee-at-the-time and I came across some trilobite jewellery. It was so emblematic of my tastes, I was desperate for a ring. It is an elrathia kingii inset in steel, and if you flip it over and look at the inside of the ring, the fossil's belly, still retaining ancient dirty matrix, is visible. Elrathia are known for having 13 pleurae down their bodies (little spiny lines off to each side).

Michelle bought it for me, and in some ways, it felt a little like an engagement ring to me. Now we are married, and I covet this ring. It me.

I seldom wear it now. It is 550 million years old, and it is eroding at my touch. I put it on at special occasions, or sometimes just as a treat and inner distraction. You see, I have a lot of associations and mental investments swirling in the memetic wind around this ring.

My wife gave it to me, and whenever I look at it, I think of how crazy I am about her. A flood of memories washes over me, and I begin to think of memories still to come. This fossil, with its tiny compound calcium carbonate eyes has been around 550 million years. And now it's existence is congruous with my own, and with the experiences my wife and I share.

When this little arthropod was alive, humans were an inconceivably faint glint in perhaps some pikaia's eyes. As a fossil, will it last another 550 million years? Will one day, I be a fossil next to it, unlikely as that is?

I wear it on my right hand, the hand I create my artwork with. How is that for post-modern progression: the eons-old fossil, sitting on the hand of of the primate, while he draws and paints pictures of the fossil, which the primate hopes will give him a type of longevity, of immortality through art.

This ring has inspired my art, and is the basis for my business card, for the tattoo I plan to get this spring. It will likely inspire much more. This little trilobite is not just an emblem. It once was a tiny organism, perhaps wandering away from it's hatch-mates, poking its feelers through the sand, over a rock, feeding, respiring, evading detection by predators. I am living my life, wondering at it living it's life.

All this to me speaks to what it is to be human. As I said in my first post, I can sit here and marvel at a being long dead, but not forgotten. I can understand some things about it. And I can be inspired by it.

It is steeped in so many thoughts, it gathers and concentrates them. This is what fossils and artistry, - what science and art! - can give us. Meaning wrapped-in tightly and woven together. A memetic structure, chaotic and incomplete and growing inside my brain.


traumador said...

So it's your precious is it?

Well hopefully no one wants to throw it back into the quarry from wence it came... Especially if it came from the Burgess Shale or Mount Stephen cause their killer hikes let me tell you (and no giant eagle's going to come save you if there's trouble!!!)

Cool ring though yo...

I'm kinda jealous.

Not only is having a fossil on you at ALL times neat...

I couldn't wear something like that if i wanted to... on account of my arms and fingers being too short to accomodate such things!

Anonymous said...

This post is so spectacular on so many levels!
It makes me melt to read it. Go kiss your wife.
I have a similar "muse" ring. Brazilian agate, I believe. All my fairies wear it in all my drawings.
Look closely.
C:\Documents and Settings\Leslie\My Documents\My Pictures\Pictures and Art\Art\Color Illustrations\ring.jpg

Glendon Mellow said...

Beware the UruKea-Hai!

You shouldn't be jealous of the ring. You are a kind of living fossil anyway, in the nicest possible sense.

Glendon Mellow said...


Thanks for the response. I try to kiss my wife as often as possible.

Now I'll be on the lookout for that agate ring! I love little puzzles in art. Thanks.

Michele Boselli said...

amazing stories (both the one about the ring itself and the one about your wife "proposing" to you via that ring).

oh, what a coincidence! the Bbc has just said that Sarkozy and Carla Bruni eventually got married!

anyway, I've given you a link: visit my blog and let me know if you want to reciprocate. ciao!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks for the interest, Miss Welby. Link'll be up over the weekend!

Trilobite jewellery should be more distinct than it seems to be. It gets mistaken for obsidian though. Or perhaps people just assume that of me because I am a recovering (often lapsing) goth.

AMcA said...

I was only lookin for the name of the species when I came across your blog.
I was so inspired by your description of the little critters pottering around in the sediment. I felt sorry for them, so I made a pair of rocketships so they can scoot around space for the next 550 million years or so. Have a look!

Glendon Mellow said...

Ha! Pretty awesome, AMcA!

Nice work. But I forgot to mention the adult-parties they'd all have. NSFW!

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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