Frankenstein: evil scientists and lonely monsters

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Illustration by Bernie Wrightson, 1979

“How ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!”

The XIX century was a time of immense innovations and improvements. It was during this time that the human race developed a strong and almost religious faith in science, seeing it as the key to progress and a foundation of a new and better world where everything was possible. Mary Shelley, through her novel Frankenstein, makes a sharp critic against this mentality that believes men is all-powerful, focusing on the consequences this may have. The bottom idea of the book is that science should have certain limits, otherwise it can be dangerous; this is a notion that is still very much present nowadays. When Frankenstein finally gives life to his creature, he suddenly realises the implications of his actions- “I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”

Viktor Frankenstein is a student with great ability and skills, who becomes obsessed over the idea of providing life after seeing the power of a lighting bolt striking a tree. However, he does not think thoroughly about the repercussion of his actions. Later on, he even despises his creation and regrets it. Shelley denounces how science gives man great power; however, this power may hunt him in his sleep later on.

It can also be argued it is a simile- God is Frankenstein who created life but later abandoned it because it no longer found it perfect or capable of good, and the monster represents humankind who feels lonely, left alone in an inhospitable world where he does not feel loved. The feelings the creature experiments are often the most human of all, even though he is called a monster and despised because he is not human enough. Through the monster’s thoughts, Shelley communicates the worries and afflictions all men have:

Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man! 

‘Hateful day when I received life!’ I exclaimed in agony. ‘Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?’

The loneliness and the search of love and acceptance, as well as an explanation of the meaning of our own lives, are true human feelings. The monster is not good or bad in the beginning; it merely turns evil after his contact with the world. Mary Shelley gives Science the role of power and creation, which can be associated with God.

There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.

Furthermore, Shelley goes beyond her time preventing the dangers that the careless use of science may have. Science and technology are not things to play with without proper weighting of consequences. Think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where it was proved that science does not necessarily imply progress and can even cause barbaric actions.

“How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.” Mary Shelley foresees the potential problems that the rapid advances of Science, which began in the XIX century, may bring. The author manages to present Science as the villain and well as the hero of the story.

Was Science the real monster?

-ana-

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My Lost Leaf

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Last week, a friend and I decided to take up a challenge by the artist Nathaniel Russell, proposed on the Youtube channel “The Art Assignment”.

We made a handful of fake flyers advertising made up clubs, requesting help for imaginary scenarios and displaying some ridiculous ideas. We hung them up around our school and sat back to see the reactions of people.

Some people thought they were hilarious, others thought they were pointless.
This was all just as we had expected.

What we did not foresee was that some people felt so passionately against them. They claimed that the flyers were the most ridiculous thing they’d seen. They spoke against them throughout the day, they called us childish.

I guess it makes sense.

When I tried to explain that the flyers were based on artwork and were trying to be art, we were told we were pretentious.

I found all of this very interesting, because what was a harmless bit of experimental fun for us, caused a serious reaction out of  some people.

I guess this happens often, when people don’t enjoy a piece of contemporary art, they claim that it isn’t art. Nobody claims that a Rembrandt painting isn’t art simply because they don’t like looking at it, but people criticise contemporary artists all the time just because their art is not as straightforward as people would like.

I’m not claiming that my friend Poppy and I are contemporary artists who have been misunderstood. We simply copied an idea and tried to engage with it, but the response we received helped us understand the concept that art isn’t just what the spectator makes it to be.

Art is in the intention, art is in the thoughts provoked by a piece.

Art shouldn’t just be about the physical object that has been created.
If it has incited some thought in you, then your thoughts are also art.

Let’s break down the boxes that we have built up to categorise things.

Let’s relax a little and stop jumping up to disagree with the things we don’t understand.

It’s ok to be confused, let’s not get hostile when presented with the unfamiliar.

And if you find my leaf anywhere, please let me know.

Hurt

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Weeping- Edvard Munch (1913)

With a physical wound, sometimes even the lightest finger stroke over the damaged area is enough to make you shiver. Your senses sharpen in order to protect you. The injury can be felt at all times: walking, sitting down and even sleeping.

This is not at all different from an emotional wound.

If you have ever experienced a broken heart, a loss of a close friend or a broken soul due to depression, you will know this is true. No matter how hard your friends try to distract you, you still feel this pressure against your chest, an uncontrollable pain that makes your spirit crash. Emotional pain is real pain. Just like with physical pain, you cannot just “try to think about something else” and “get over it”. Sensitivity increases in order for you to take care of yourself and become more aware.

Pain awakens and sharpens the senses. You feel more deeply. When being hurt and feeling extremely vulnerable, nothing is more appealing than either staying at home and turning your back to the world, or keeping extremely busy in order to avoid time alone to think and feel.

Don´t.

Instead, how about focusing the increased sensitivity to explore your creative side? If pain means a deeper and more intense connection with the world through sensorial experience, make the most of it: taste, smell, listen, touch, feel. Look out for new things. Remember that many of the great masterpieces of art and music were produced due to a personal crisis.

You’ll never feel more alive that when you are hurt.

Embrace the pain.

-ana-