Thursday, December 29, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science

        The post today is a reprint from Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe blog used with Jeffrey's kind permission.  For those of you who don't know Jeffrey, he was one of the co-hosts of the 2011 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  He has a wonderful blog and I would encourage you to stop in and at least wish him Happy Holidays and a Super Prosperous New Year.   While you're there you might as well follow his blog.

          When I saw this post at Halloween I knew then I must reprint it here.  Thanks Jeffery!

She Blinded Me With Science

Dreams are curious things. We have our aspirations, our goals we set forth to accomplish and make some aspect, or all aspects, of our lives better. We have the full-on R.E.M. dreams, where our brains process information that they’ve accumulated over the course of the day, usually in fragments that may not make much sense to us logically as opposed to when we’re awake.

And then there are the waking dreams, the images that are with us right when we come out of sleep. Some of these mental pictures escape our memory within a matter of seconds. Other times they stick with a person. However, I’m fairly certain that author Mary Shelley must have written down perhaps her most famous waking dream. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have one of the most famous monsters around, and I’d be short a Rock’N’Fright Tuesday post.

What Mary Shelley did for literature, particularly horror and science fiction, is something not many others can compare to. The birth of her monster, Frankenstein, is pretty much pinned under the label of pop culture phenomenon. Countless scores of people have gone back to interpret the Frankenstein Monster legend, including author Dean Koontz. But you know what? Nobody can hold a candle, or perhaps a mob’s torchlight, to Mary Shelley.

The dream came to her in the year 1816. In her words, she says, “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” This is a quote from Spark, 157, in Mary Shelley’s introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, and the source has been noted by Wikipedia, where I found the quote. (I think I’ve sufficiently cited my sources here.)

Study that quote for a moment. Go ahead and absorb it. I’ll wait for you. Done yet? Okay, let’s continue.

Shelley must have understood the importance of this particular dream. It’s my guess that it might have at first startled her, but then she quickly must have understood the importance of the information presented to her. Why else would she have bothered to remember as much of the dream as she possibly could? Quite the argument for dream journals, wouldn’t you say?

Now Mary Shelley’s famed monstrosity is a Halloween staple. But the bigger thing we have to keep in mind, beyond the mere representation of a child’s costume, is that she dared to dream and ask questions others wouldn’t have ventured. And like I said earlier, she did so by aptly turning science into a grim facet of horror.

For that reason, I dedicate my post to such an incredible author.   And don’t ever stop dreaming. Without dreams, we are nothing.

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  1. This interested me Lee because Mary Shelley was married to Percy Byshee Shelley, they had a son also called Percy who in his life time bought a manor along the road where I live, he also owned the land where the house I live in.
    Percy Jnr, bought the manor for his mother Mary, but she died before it was refurbished. She is buried at St. Peter's Church Bournemouth with the heart of her late husband poet Percy and her parents. So you see where I live is Shelley dominated, The manor is now our health centre.
    Guests of Percy jnr to the manor was Lord Byron, Robert Louis Stephenson just to name a few.


  2. The dreams I actually remember are either too weird or too boring for words!
    And Yvonne, that is fascinating! I remember you mentioning that Percy used to own that land.


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