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Category: 04. 2/28 Frankenstein (Page 1 of 2)

Climate and Creativity


The eruption of Mount Tambora’s global weather implications and the coinciding birth of quintessential horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein highlight a relationship between climate and creativity that has inadvertently guided strands of human development for generations. For example, the harsh weather conditions, especially when they affect harvests and general public health, will incite an adequate amount of stress to keep peoples minds active. The social isolation and lack of mental stimulation when indoors for extended periods of time in the face of threatening conditions outdoors will lead people’s imaginations to run wild. When delving into the specific impacts of these conditions on the stories that came from that time period there is a clear influence. This is just one example of how weather conditions have guided movements in creativity and innovation throughout history.

Wood notes “It was in this literally electric atmosphere that the Shelley party in Geneva, with Byron attached, conceived the idea of a ghost story contest, to entertain themselves indoors during this cold, wild summer.” (Wood) This reminds me of Iceland’s public programs in support of the arts. Iceland has notoriously harsh winters with limited daylight and extreme winds that tend to keep people indoors. Iceland “has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.” It is said that 1 in every 10 people in the country publishes a book in their lifetime, in large part due to government programs that facilitate it, and in turn keep moral and productivity up through the winter. I see these programs to be very similar to the ghost story contest in their aim and impact.

Additionally, people grow and learn from each other creatively. This is another impact of harsh weather because when many creative people get holed up together for an extended period of time it can inspire a wave of creativity that will just keep growing until it produces something substantial, this is the case with Frankenstein. “As Percy Shelley later wrote, the novel itself seemed generated by “the magnificent energy and swiftness of a tempest.” Thus it was that the unique creative synergies of this remarkable group of college-age tourists—in the course of a few weeks’ biblical weather—gave birth to two singular icons of modern popular culture: Frankenstein’s monster and the Byronic Dracula.” (Wood) Often writing is a relatively solitary pursuit but I believe the social aspect to these projects absolutely contributed to the direction and level of quality that they developed in.

Overall, It is a set of unique weather conditions that created the creative conditions that produced an equally unique set of stories. But I think extreme weather conditions across the spectrum are at the root of many major points in humanities development. The specific impacts of Mount Tambora’s eruption are obviously not the same as say, a summer without rain, but I think the concept remains the same.

Where The Line is Drawn

While living in a society in which we are always driving technology forward, there is a looming fear over many who wonder when we may go too far. It is inevitable that there must be a point where the line is drawn, and the introduction of certain technologies may no longer be beneficial. Where this point lies or what technologies it includes are unknown, and how to find them remains a mystery. 

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The Dangerous Uncertainties of Technology

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a quintessential example of an experiment gone awry, an effort initiated with seemingly pure intentions but evolves into something with unintended and disastrous consequences. Frankenstein the monster becomes more than simply a reanimated “humanish” creature. His creation accidentally gave rise to issues of companionship, loneliness, and other human emotions that ultimately made him a true monster.

I believe that many of today’s modern marvels are riddled with similar unintended consequences. The primary example being the Amazon Echo. The daily news cycle is dominated with stories of Echo devices listening to their owners and then acting without any instruction. People with Echo devices find themselves receiving advertisements for products or services that they had only discussed in person with friends or family members. It seems as though the days of only having to worry about what one wrote or typed are long gone. The spoken word used to be the final frontier in terms of privacy, you could still speak your mind in private, but now the Amazon Echo is always listening, picking up on certain keywords, and creating customized advertisement strategies for you.

There is also the issue of the relationship between Echo data and the Intelligence authorities. Many people, myself included, view  them as conspiracy theories. However, if there is truly a connection between the two, then an invasion of privacy breach is certainly a real and present danger.

Customers who simply wanted a device that would record grocery lists and play music are suddenly facing unintended ramifications that they had no way of anticipating, much like Frankenstein’s monster. These people did not sign up for a product that listens to their every word, records and analyzes it. This is an area that I believe must be addressed by both private and public oversight entities.

Another example of technological overreach can be identified in the recording of search data on Google and Facebook. These tech giants have been recording the search data of individuals for years and have been able to compile advertisement and content preferences to suit each individual customer. This collection and manipulation of our personal preferences and information is changing the way that we shop and consume information. Lawmakers in Congress are finally beginning to investigate the ways in which Facebook and Google are handling our information, but I believe that this is just the “tip of the iceberg.” The Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is the most evident example of data manipulation. Facebook’s advertising platform allowed hackers to infiltrate the “newsfeeds” of American citizens and feed them falsified news that ultimately impacted the results of our executive election.

As technology advances and takes an increasingly more important role in our daily lives it is vitally important that we take a more cautious approach toward our work. Inventions that collect, track, and analyze our data are a novel and groundbreaking concept, capable of revolutionizing the way we live and work. However, if unmonitored and unsupervised, we risk sacrificing our sacred right to privacy.

The Monster Inside All of Us

While we live in the most technologically advanced society in the history of mankind, we tend to neglect the fact that we as people have developed true relationships with technology. While our generation can be labeled as the most technologically savvy and advanced, we are also branded as the age of people who cannot live without it. While it is obvious any generation in the world today cannot survive without things like smartphones and computers, our age group has almost taken it to a disgusting extent. Our generation must realize that our obsession with new creations has made a monster inside all of us which needs to be dealt with. The most difficult part about the fixations with technology is that it has almost become a social norm for us, which makes it that much harder to address. Continue reading

No Mother, No Problem…Right?

Human interaction begins right at birth. We connect with the people around us, especially our mothers. But what is so special about this moment? It is our first exposure to the concept of relationships. In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the monster experiences horror and disgust from Victor, his creator, at his “birth”. From then on, the monster becomes lonely, frustrated, and destructive. When analyzing these characteristics, I wondered what would be our modern monster?  I concluded that it could possibly be our computers and data. They are man made, they have created a form of isolation, and they have opened doors to knowledge that we have never explored before. However, the presence of a “mother” is what differentiates Frankenstein’s monster from computers and data, our modern “monster” Continue reading

Mary Shelley: The Quest for Eternal Damnation

Picture this, it’s June of 1816, you and your friends have taken a vacation to observe the world. One thing leads to another, and now you are at a distant mansion with a Lord going on and on about the “earthquake in the sky.” If that wasn’t enough, you also spend the nights sitting around a fire, writing what is now known as one of the most famous horror and sci-fi novels of all time. Continue reading

GMO’s: A modern day Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein provides a great lesson for the world of Science, Technology, and Society. Shelley’s portrayal of a man creating a monstrous creature, and later betraying it, speaks to both the hopes and fears of today’s race to innovation. In the novel, Waldman insists that technologies (i.e. Frankenstein) have “Acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows.” Waldman implies that good intentions can often lead to unintended (and not so good) consequences. This message is even more relevant today, as we are constantly on the hunt for new technologies to solve our problems. Perhaps the reason we are still reading Shelley’s work 200 years later is because of the concern about the increased chances of creating “Frankensteins”. One example of a modern day Frankenstein with potential for unintended consequences is GMO’s.

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It’s Alive!

200 years after Mary Shelley released Frankenstein, it is still commonly discussed, and has many applications to modern times. Shelley wrote her book in 1817, when scientific advances were happening rapidly. For example, the discovery of electricity was groundbreaking, and had the ability to shake the way that humans saw and interacted with the natural world. Although our new and exciting inventions have gotten far more complex than electricity, the questions surrounding them remain the same. Our society currently has issues in developing fields such as artificial intelligence, genetic modification, and new areas of medical research. Emerging technologies such as these go hand in hand with controversies about the roles, uses, and limitations of science. As we see in Frankenstein, the drive to create can lead to disastrous consequences when science runs amuck. It’s not probable that a cutting-edge robot, capable of near human intelligence will take on a personal vendetta and hunt down you and your family. But what if it does?

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