Monday, July 1, 2013

Yet Sad that Her Frankenstein Had Become Just a Name, Like Dracula or Satan, Something that Stood for a Kind of Scariness, Good for a Laugh

Slide show is from yesterday's production of Richard Campbell's Frankenstein, a rock opera, the first musical I have voluntarily gone to see since the movie Tommy in 1975 with my cousin Jennifer. The lead guitarist is my friend Mr Alarum. We were told we could take photos as long as we turned off the flash, so I think it's OK to post that, if it's not please let me know. Planet and Earthgirl and Ari were particularly impressed with the monster, especially his spasticity when rising from the operating table. I was happily amused with the emcee guy - his voice, in the upper registers, the tone and timber of Geddy Lee. When I said so to Planet and Earthgirl and Ari they said, Who?


Stephen Dunn

Because the ostracized experience the world
in ways peculiar to themselves, often seeing it
clearly yet with such anger and longing
that they sometimes enlarge what they see,
she at first saw Brigantine as a paradise for gulls.
She must be a horseshoe crab washed ashore.

How startling, though, no one knew about her past,
the scandal with Percy, the tragic early deaths,
yet sad that her Frankenstein had become
just a name, like Dracula or Satan, something
that stood for a kind of scariness, good for a laugh.
She found herself welcome everywhere.

People would tell her about Brigantine Castle,
turned into a house of horror. They thought
she'd be pleased that her monster roamed
its dark corridors, making children scream.
They lamented the day it was razed.
Thus Mary Shelley found herself accepted

by those who had no monster in them —
the most frightening people alive, she thought.
Didn't they know Frankenstein had abandoned
his creation, set him loose without guidance
or a name? Didn't they know what it feels like
to be lost, freaky, forever seeking who you are?

She was amazed now that people believed
you could shop for everything you might need.
She loved that in the dunes you could almost hide.
At the computer store she asked an expert
if there was such a thing as too much knowledge,
or going too far? He directed her to a website

where he thought the answers were.
Yet Mary Shelley realized that the pain she felt
all her life was gone. Could her children, dead so young,
be alive somewhere, too? She couldn't know
that only her famous mother had such a chance.
She was almost ready to praise this awful world.


  1. Alas, Reader, we hardly knew ye, but at least I've still got my email addy.

  2. 1) that 'relay failures' piece is well worth reading, and passing on -

    certainly the temptation to read in order to have read is something i am exposing myself to by opening the firehose that is your stream of links - and sometimes i go to naked capitalism and browse there - the world of letters and the world of financial numbers are both somewhat out of my comfort zone

    as dylan put it - decades before 24/7 total distraction reached its 21st century intensity - "all the tired horses in the sun - how'm i gonna get any writing/riding done"

    the "relay failures" piece appears at michael sacasas's blog "the frailest thing", of which i have just heard, thanks to you, jeff - his blog epigraph is worth repeating here, imho, and i hope you agree:

    “There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” – Marshall McLuhan

    to which i would add - the willingness to contemplate has as a prerequisite the awareness of the possibility of contemplation

    i was thinking again about my cyberfriend Mongo, at the Moment, still in his cubicle like a Veal, and the Promotion poem of James Tate which I attached as a comment to his thoughtful illustrated essay about Calvin and Hobbes, as well as here, last week

    i conclude that the cubicle dweller of Tate's poem is worse off in his current incarnation - his "promotion" to a human life has not gone well - for two reasons, one made explicit by the poem, the other pointed to by McLuhan's aphorism

    1)his emotional needs were much better met in his life as a dog - Tate evokes this beautifully, and anyone who has loved a dog must be moved by this

    2)contrariwise, Tate's protagonist, looking backwards at his former happiness, has not yet grasped his current opportunity and responsibility for "the development of his soul", to use old-fashioned language which nevertheless may still resonate for a few of those who may read these words

    see the Monty Python creed - movie excerpt

    my exegesis of the above:

    Tate's protagonist is "reborn" into human circumstances, but he is still in the egg of reacting, rather than responding to, his current place in the universe -

    he needs to be reminded of the possibility he has to "shine"

    may the Creative Forces of the Universe be with us all

  3. speaking of mary shelley's mother, as the poem does, can lead to

    "[I]n China alone there are 50 million women 'missing' - that should be there but are not. Adding up similar numbers from South and West Asia results in a number of 'missing' women higher than 100 million. According to [Amartya] Sen, 'These numbers tell us, quietly, a terrible story of inequality and neglect leading to the excess mortality of women.' "

    Sen's words are perhaps too mild - "inequality and neglect" would more accurately read "selective abortion and infanticide".

    "This awful world" - but as the saying goes, compared to what?

    May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.

    1. Gifts received, thanks much! especially the Red Hawk.