Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dr. Frankenstein's Monster
That would be the big green guy with neck bolts and flat head and the GLAVIN (sorry - just had a Prof. Frink moment there). Often mistakenly called just "Frankenstein" but then, being all fraught with perspicacity as you are, you already knew that. But such technicalities are not the point of the post. What called this little disquisition on the nature of fictional monsters was a captured random thought as I was exiting the shower this day.
To wit: What if Mary Shelley had pulled a different name out of the aether? What if the great, clomping monster of celluloid fame had been made by Dr. Finkelstein? Would children run in fright from "Finkelstein!"? It is possible. Yet with the freight of horror that time has accustomed us to on the name Frankenstein, the idea that we would run screaming from "Dr. Finkelstein's monster" is risible, not horrible. Indeed, the comic possibilities are nearly without limit: Monster rises from its slab, Dr. Finkelstein screams to the storming cosmos, "It's ALIVE!" and the monster says in a nice Yiddish accent, "Oy. Would it kill you to have a little brisket on hand?" (Of course I also picture Igor then using one of my favorite lines: "I could eat.")
In any event, after running those ideas around the cranial blender a few times, I was struck by another thought. What if Dr. Frankenstein were a Jew? Not a great leap from the Finkelstein name change, really. I don't imagine that Mary Shelley particularly intended a Jewish connection but what if? Could we not then say that the monster is a modern golem? I see from the Wikipedia page that I'm not the first to draw this connection but I don't recall anyone ever having made that connection explicit to me before. I rather like this line in the Wiki: "The golem became a creation of overambitious and overreaching mystics, who would inevitably be punished for their blasphemy, as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the alchemical homunculus."
So I am left with questions. Monsters, by definition, must be evil. Are our most feared monsters out of our traditions? Is there a necessarily religious aspect to them? Are the monsters defined by their Godlessness (in too many ways to conjure in a blog post)? Is the very definition of evil spun into the thread that is life force without the tempering of the divine spark within?
Too many questions actually. I may have to spend some time pondering on the nature of man and monster and God. It's difficult enough to figure out what I want for lunch much less think so hard on such philosophical questions. Perhaps I will be granted some measure of deeper understanding of my own human condition. And there is much to be gained in that.

1 comment:

Meatros said...

I think that you would first have to determine what constitutes a monster. The reason I say this is because I would normally consider demons, vampires (I'm thinking Lilith-type), and such as monsters. Yet these creatures do or did have the divine spark in them.

Satan, for example, was one of God's assistants in the book of Job. He carried out the testing of Job. Now, he morphs into a much more powerful/evil being in the New Testament (probably due to Hellenization and the influence of Zoroastrianism) - but still, he was the highest Angel.