New Prometheus

Nothing portends the wrath of the Almighty like an unseasonal storm. The late season Hurricane Sandy, now dubbed the Frankenstorm because of its potential hookup with two wintery systems making their way east and south, is poised to make an apocalyptic scenario on the east coast, we’re told. Well, it is 2012, the year of apocalypses, after all. In an interesting shift, however, this storm is named after not a divine character, but Frankenstein’s monster, the human-made nightmare. I first read Mary Wollstonecraft’s Frankenstein back in high school, and I was immediately subdued. The story, undoubtedly frightening when first heard, is unremittingly sad. The “monster,” like all of us, finds himself in a cold and lonely world where he is rejected because he is different. It is cruel and Republican kind of world. All the monster seeks is companionship, acceptance. I found the story so sad that I’ve had trouble reading it ever since.

The naming of a storm after a terror created by humanity may be prescient, in a regrettable way. Only the most gullible (read “greedy”) believe that industrialization had nothing to do with it. We toasted our own planet for a buck or two. In biblical terms we have sowed the wind, for which there is only one kind of produce. Hurricanes are quite natural, and although the irregular weather of 2012 may prove simply a meteorological anomaly, it may be the result of our tinkering with the baubles of divinity. They certainly seem to be getting bigger than they used to be.

I have to admit to having a persistent fear of those doing the cobbling. Too often their motivation appears to be flat and green and indigestible. And nothing like stockpiling it makes a person somehow less human. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote Frankenstein not for money, but for love of words. The modern chimeras we construct are mere carnival side-shows by comparison. And like Victor Frankenstein we have engineered beyond our capability to understand. Our best option may be to stand silently and wonder at the forces that hold us enthralled. For in the novel, at least, the real monster is not the cadaver stitched together underneath the sheet.

2 thoughts on “New Prometheus

  1. All hurricanes are named after a divine character – Huracan, a Mayan god of wind and fire with one human leg and one snake tail. In the Pacific, they’re typhoons, after Typhon – a snake-legged demon/titan of completely different provenance.

    I wonder – did we somehow know the storms had those long, trailing spiral tails even before planes, much less satellite imagery, showed them to us from above?


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