"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, October 6, 2014

Talkin' bout the big man

I confess, Frankenstein never frightened me as much as Dracula or the Wolfman or even the Blob. Yeah, he's big and strong and ugly, but I can totally outrun him, at least in the movie version.

When I read Mary Shelley's story, I now look back at that 1931 classic and think, "How did they come up with that choice?" I mean, this walking log is a far cry from Shelley's very agile monster.

When I read the novel, it was a lot scarier than any of the movies, mainly because the young doctor is relentless in his desire to create a human being, and doesn't stop to think of the consequences until the being is alive. To me, this is the fearful heart of the story. Much like Michael Crichton's JURASSIC PARK, man is doing things because he can, not because he should, and chaos ensues.

Here's a piece:

* * *

No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.

* * *
Then, after:

* * *

I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. 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.

* * *

Guess we should have thought this through, huh? The book ends even more tragically than the movies. And I'm not certain who I feared more while I was reading - the monster or the doctor.

What scares you more, a monster, or a man?

When I was skimming through YouTube, I found a live clip of Edgar Winter playing "Frankenstein." It's endlessly long, but I like it for three reasons: 1) Edgar is freakishly impressive playing all those instruments, 2) everyone is pretty campy, 70s-wise, and 3) that young imp playing next to Edgar is Rick Derringer.

I don't know why I get a kick out of this, but I do.

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