Friday, October 31, 2008

The man or the monster

Frankenstein is, somewhat erroneously, used to refer to the monster of the Doctor's creation (somewhat, as, while the monster is never named, he is Victor's "son", and therefore assuming his surname is not entirely unacceptable. However, his namelessness is actually part of the point), after all, "the monster" isn't particularly descriptive to tell you which monster is being referred to, is it? Strix and Strigoi Mort aside, you have probably noticed I've been on a bit of a Monster kick this year. Comments I make about stabbing people aside (as well as desires, let's face it), I'm really not vicious enough to be a vampire, by half. I'm far more to be the tragic (handstapleforehead) and pathetic Louis type, subsisting on rats while everyone is snickering at me behind my back.

First you have the Doctor, the archetypical Creator, Victor Frankenstein. Victor's gotten the short end of the stick in characterization over the years. He wasn't mean, or evil, he was, simply, young and stupid. Afraid of death, to the point of obsession, barely more than a teenager- and we all know how stupid we were when we were young. You think you can live forever, even when you really know you can't, the reality hasn't really sunk in. He had lofty dreams for this creation of his, to be an Adonis...and instead was greeted by an abomination. Any creator knows that crushing defeat when you look at what you've done...and it's _not_ good. And, after all, this was his first attempt, he'd not learned from trial and error how to achieve his goals.

Mind you, when we're talking resurrecting the dead, trial and error takes on a bit more weight than when it's simply painting over a canvas, or throwing away a sheet of paper (or dragging a Photoshop file into the trash). Even those not actively making things for Second Life, you're still in the position of Victor, you've created this avatar, this other creation. Now, our creations, they don't have "souls", free will, the ability to wander off without us. We haven't given them life yet, as that's so much harder. But is it really such a bad thing to aspire to?

The other creation is, of course, the procreation of the species. Victor created himself a son, just not really under traditional methods. But just as real children have their own minds, and don't always do what we want, the Monster had its own feelings upon its creation. Not that it helped that it was shunned at birth- but then, that happens to "real" children too upon occasion. And they usually don't look kindly upon it either.

Of course, Victor's rejection was a bit different from just an unfit parent- he was looking at a creature that was something else entirely, a travesty of nature. Add on the fact we're talking a generation not desensitized by horror movies, and you might be able to imagine his reaction. And, in truth, even in one with one, we think it seems ridiculous and silly that people panic and freak out, but that's because we know it isn't real. The lizard brain takes over when it happens to you, fight or flight or dissolve into a gibbering pile.

But in truth, I've still always been more on the side of the Creation. What can I say, I've always liked monsters. And he wasn't really evil either- he didn't really grasp right and wrong fully, he was, well, rather pissed that his dad freaked out and ran away, and while he was in the body of a full grown man, with the brain of one, he wasn't that person any more, he was a new being, born at that moment. Babies don't really get concepts we see as automatic, is it any wonder he didn't either?

The Monster is also an outsider by nature- his very appearance makes people shun him. We judge with our eyes first, even if we don't want to admit it, and, well, when you're talking an 8 foot tall monstrosity, it's a little different from "Oh, but I'm not racist!" (or "that boy in black must be a devil worshipper"). Again it's the lizard brain that says "this is not right" and tried to protect you from danger- regardless of whether there really is one, it's instinct.

After all that, is it any wonder he wasn't all sunshine and light? After all, the whole concept of death held an entirely different meaning for him as well, being a resurrected being, murder wasn't the same hurdle it would be to a mere mortal.

After all, what he wanted more than anything else, was just to not be alone in the world. Misanthropic tendencies aside, that's what most people want if they are honest with themselves, someone to share their lives with. In the book, the second creature is never finished, Victor destroys it, to not bring more of what he sees as evil into the world. The movies created the iconic Bride, as part of the classic series that cements the Monster's sympathetic side. She, of course, is horrified as well, retaining enough instinct to know what's "right" and what's "not right" in humanity, even if she is not right herself. And then, of course, there's all the _other_ subtext running through that movie (and the little people in jars).

The mythos has taken the imagery and used it in different ways, in the way that culture virally creates itself. Just like vampires, the Monster is a part of our cultural heritage, our oral history that, even though it's written down, still can change and recreate itself in strange and beautiful ways, as we all add pieces of ourselves to it.

The Monsters are our own imperfect creation, we are all flawed in our own ways, and while not all of us create, all of us were created.

1 comment:

Auntykuro said...

I love this treatise on monsters :D Good writing. A

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