Blog Prompt #2: Electric Boogaloo

Parallel Universes Edition: What if the creature had gotten to Walton first?

To: Mrs. Seville, England.

You may be delighted to hear the news that today, I rescued a man who was wandering among these frigid wastes. Unfortunately, you would be wrong on two accounts: in your delight, and in that he was a man. The creature I rescued was no man born of woman, if I am to believe his fantastic story. But before I spin you his horrible tale, I must describe to you his singular person.

This being, who has no name, towers over mortal men by a yard’s length. Wreathed in dreads of oily, black hair, his head sheaths two sickly yellow eyes. A gaping mouth of piercing white teeth, framed by inhuman black lips, cleaves his face. His off-white skin is pale, translucent even, to expose his veins in uncanny detail. His frame is gargantuan to behold, yet his mental stature is nothing if not even more considerable. He is an expert in the art of rhetoric, and can frame thoughts with the hand of a masterful craftsman. I digress: the story of his origin is more captivating even than his alien countenance.

He tells me, dear wife, of a man so bent to his art that he neglected his health, his friends and even his family for the sake of his studies. He was obsessed with life – not just the behavior of living things, but the creation of life itself. This scientist, mad with passion, assembled the poor creature from the bodies of the deceased, and gave life to it, but, coward that he was, he fled at the sight of the terrifying being he had created. Oh, injustice! That he had only stayed to nurture his newborn child! You will soon see, dear wife, the wickedness of the scientist’s way!

The wretched creature ran into a forest and learned the ways and language of man, and with no small difficulty: all that saw him drove him out as an abomination. One day, he learned of his maker’s name – Frankenstein – through a journal, and the creature began to scour the countryside for his master and creator. Finding him, the poor soul demanded that its existence be validated with a female companion, and Frankenstein agreed; but the fickle man destroyed the second creation at the monster’s visitation. Hateful man! The monster was now left without a companion in all the world, but for the impulse of a vain fool. Frankenstein, now bloodthirsty, lunged at the monster, and chased him across continents to the present location. How cruel the evil father is to his child!

Dearest wife, I fear I must go; for the day grows long, and there is much to do. The creature promises to elucidate the rest of his riveting story to me on the morrow. ‘Til then, I bid thee sleep easier than I this night!

Sincerely yours,

Walton

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To: Mrs. Seville, England.

My lovely wife, this day has justice been made known. The foul man Frankenstein was giving chase to his creature in this climate, and was taken aboard our vessel in the sorriest of conditions – we, of course, unknowing it was he. The creature, however, recognizing his master instantly, flew into a fit of laughter at the sight of him, and at Frankenstein’s awakening, enclosed himself in a room with his master for “a small talk”. Soon later, the creature emerged bearing tragic news – before he could ask his master for an explanation of his rash actions, Frankenstein leaped out the window and drowned rather than face the consequence of his wanton meddling with life. Despondent after bearing this news to us, the creature asked to be alone, and retired to his temporary room. Had I not known better, I would say his sobs of grief and defeat had been stifled laughter, but I know this creature’s heart to be pure.

We will return the creature to land once our trek is complete; God willing, with us as a mediator, society will accept him as one of their own. Perhaps you can even meet him upon our return!

With love,

Walton

nature: innocence

Blog Prompt 1: How and why do descriptions of nature feature so strongly in the novel? What function do they serve in our understanding of the events, themes, and/or characters?

A common theme in nineteenth-century literature is the idea of nature as a healing agent. The writings of Thoreau exemplify this mindset: having left society for months to live in a shack by a lake, Thoreau wrote exclusively of the wonders and beauty of nature, in contrast to the perils and ugliness of civilization. From Frankenstein: “Alas! Why does man boast of sensibilities superior to those apparent in the brute; it only renders them more necessary beings. If our impulses were confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free; but now we are moved by every wind that blows and a chance word or scene that that word may convey to us.” (p. 64) Mary’s clear intention is to cast man as an animal burdened by his so-called sensibilities; enslaved to this beast called society, he has lost touch with his innermost desires, and thereby condemned himself to unhappiness.
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The metaphor, however, goes one step further. We briefly discussed the loss of innocence in class. As was mentioned, Victor’s education at Ingolstadt accordingly robbed him of his childlike fantasies of alchemy and the occult. In the novel, this represents Victor’s coming of age, and the casting aside of his ignorance of the truth about the world. This exposure to the new sciences prompts him to obsess over creating a monster to the point of making himself ill. Not, I contend, because of his absence from nature, but because of his ardent dedication to the “adult” world. Later, Frankenstein laments his own folly, fearing himself to be exiled from society if anyone were to discover his heinous creation. Similarly are Adam and Eve made sinful and cast out for tasting the Fruit in the Biblical creation myth. Creating a monster represents Victor’s original sin, and his transition from childhood to adulthood.
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The monster, too, is depressed by his knowledge of the world: young and naive, he observes the peasant family in their business, and he rejoices at their beauty; but once they see him – once he ventures into the world and tries to become a participant instead of just an observer – he’s driven out by the disgusted screams of the humans he once adored. This ostracism is what represents the monster’s loss of innocence. He ventured forth from his home in nature into the world of men; thus corrupted, he can never feel true happiness again. As a sinful adult, he seeks the misery of others rather than his own happiness. The loss of innocence is a literary theme not unique to Frankenstein, but pervasive throughout its length as one of if not the most compelling plot device in the story, with both main characters suffering through the distorting transformation.
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About Me

Name: Tobias Merkle (freshman)

Major: Linguistics (Statistics minor)

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM (later St. Augustine, FL)

Hobbies: Watching movies, reading books, reading movie reviews, reading about current events ( http://reddit.com ), speech & debate club, soccer, swimming, biking, frisbee, and of course, listening to music. ( http://last.fm/user/_abattoir )

Favorite movies: Inception, Fight Club, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Prestige, American Beauty

Favorite bands: Mogwai, World’s End Girlfriend, Three Trapped Tigers, Slow Club, The New Pornographers, Maybeshewill

Books/Movies Pertaining to ENG1131:

  • The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil – This book is charming through its sheer optimism. While Kurzweil’s Singularity is perhaps not as inevitable as he hopes it to be, TSIN provides convincing scientific support for the claim that technological progress is exponentially accelerating, and will continue to revolutionize life as we know it.
  • A great number of books by Isaac Asimov – To be honest, I read these a long time ago and have forgotten most about them. But I finished the Foundation Saga and The Naked Sun, as well as some others.
  • Gattaca – Superb movie. Why don’t we spare the review until we watch it in class?
  • Doctor Who – One of the best television shows in history. 26 seasons and still going strong, it’s got everything short of a disappointed fanbase.
  • The Matrix – A hallmark of 1990’s cinema, this movie raised deep philosophical questions as well as teaching the world not to trust those who would tell it to go to sleep.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey – Another classic. Indescribable and yet quintessentially human, this movie represents a uniquely symbolic reunion between mankind and an unimaginably advanced alien power.
  • WALL-E – One of the 10 best movies of the 2000’s. A touching and cautionary story about the recklessness and indulgence of mankind, and the innocence of distilled intelligent curiosity.

Hopes for ENG1131: The class is already looking to be uniquely interesting. It just doesn’t get much better than critical examination and discussion of trans- and post-humanist literature. At its end, I hope to leave this class with 6,000 words and significantly improved writing skills under my belt, as well as a semester’s worth of engaging discussion about the nature and future of humanity, as well as its relationship with technology not only as a bland, abstract force, but as a tool and an economic and social catalyst.