Language and Science

Last night I went to see The National Theater’s Frankenstein with my girl-pals, sldownard and tzikeh (their most common online handles).  While the play was clearly not for everyone, it was certainly enjoyable for me, and touched on the ‘post modern prometheus’ aspects that were weighty in the novel, with the right touch of levity.

The funny thing for me is that I hated “Frankenstein” in high school.  Right now, Mrs. Lauer is going to read this and laugh, because I despised the Gothics (and especially the romantics, which you know if you’ve read my post from just over a year ago) so much, I actually talked my way out of having to read more of them.  Instead she let me read, I think, “Northanger Abbey” though it may have been a different time-relevant parody.  At this point, I’ve actually read quite a few gothics, and as long as I read them the same way I read “Twilight” (i.e. as unintentional comedy), I enjoy them.  This may sound to you like I’m denigrating the works, and I suppose I am.  They’re just not the sort of books that speak to my heart.  In part, I read them because you ‘should.’  But really, I loved “Count of Monte Cristo” and other such dramatic revenge stories.  The turmoil of “The Man in the Iron Mask” was far more exciting to me than the coming of age in “The Three Musketeers” (which bored me a bit).  I’m not an uneducated, under-appreciative, literary luddite, I just know what I like, and the gothics ain’t it.

So why did I go to see the play Frankenstein?  For one, I’ve really never done a night with the girls.  My two girl-pals are kind of the only non-related gal pals I have.  There’s one other girl I hang with regularly, but generally I befriend men more than women!  They both really wanted to see this (mostly the vocal tzikeh, but really she’s very vocal to sldownard’s quieter nature).  I enjoy both of their company, and we wanted to see how Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock) and Johnny Lee Miller (Eli Stone and Hackers and no, he’ll never live that down) pulled this off.  Oh and they alternate the roles (we’re going back next week to see JLM as the creature).  These are two actors I greatly admire, in a story I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy, in a play getting rave reviews, with people I like to hang out with.  Did I mention tzikeh is why I watched Sherlock to begin with?  Right.

But all that aside, the scheduling of this was what made me think about language and science.  The play was at 7:30.  I get off work at 4pm and I got up to the theater at about 5pm.  With two and a half hours to kill, you can’t play Angry Birds the whole time (though I did defeat a troublesome level with three stars!).  I camped out at StarBucks with a super huge coffee and pondered the twists of life that brought me there.  Tzikeh, finding out how early I was, came by early as well, and we had a delightful couple hours gabbing over funny lit things, and life and all the stuff you talk about with people.  We briefly touched on the concepts that nothing was original anymore, and there were only about nine basic stories.  It’s not the originality of the story that excites us, it’s the way it’s told that gets our attention.

Obviously, as I touch on topics I’m well aware I blogged about before, I know I’m living proof that it’s all been done before, and it will all be done again.  But I started mulling over language, wondering how our stories evolve organically, and how the same plots exist in ever culture, in every language, and at what point it it human nature?  Every culture has a ‘blintz’ or ‘egg roll’ type food, after all.  Are there reasons for these similarities and sameness, or is it just a huge massive coincidence?  Is all this programed into our DNA?  Does the butterfly dream of being a man?  Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Frankenstein is, at it’s heart, a morality story.  “Oh god, what hath man wrought?” is its eternal question.  It’s a question we, as skeptics and ecologists and humanists, ask daily when we look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and rising fuel prices.  That’s why the story remains poignant today.  Yes, it’s sophomoric on many levels, and yes, Victor is an annoying prat, but the questions of right and wrong, ownership and responsibility, and what price will we all pay in the name of science have yet to be answered.

Always forward, never back.

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