Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Golems of our Era

Here's a new take on the old thespian question: "What's my motivation?" Actor John Oglevee, who plays the Frankenstein monster in a new stage interpretation of Mary Shelley's nightmare, told "Existential questions surfaced: Are the brain and the soul the same, are they connected? And more: Is nanotechnology a good thing, is it a dangerous thing?"

Something must have been left on the cutting-room floor because the article does not elaborate on what he means. But the nanotechnology connection seems obvious. The Frankenstein story is so timeless, every generation can pump that monster full of fresh cultural blood.

I, too, am a child of Frankenstein. According to literary lore, Shelley dreamed up the beast while operating a pen under the influence of golems -- clay creatures of Jewish legend brought to "life" by rabbis who can master the correct Kabbalistic incantations. The most famous of these legendary beasts was the 17th century Golem of Prague, created out of clay and brought to life with one word, "emet" ("truth"), placed on its forehead by Rabbi Jehudah Loew, of whom I am a descendant.

Each era has had its golems, created by humans yet difficult to control once released into the world. Old Great-Grandpa would not be surprised by my fascination with nanotechnology.


No comments: