Thursday, October 26, 2006

ICFAB reflects on The Widow of Frank

It's been a few years now since I wrote that story, and I might have ended it differently today. The "no room for monsters" theme certainly stemmed from then-current discussions at a yahoo group that I belong to. I actually had mapped out some more philosophical discussion, but it just seemed too long-winded and more fitting of an essay than what I wanted this to be: a project for fans of the old Universal Studios monster movies. I wanted to invent a better explanation for the Bride of Frankenstein than the one presented in the eponymous movie, one that need not depart from Shelley's novel.
I'm more interested now in the immortality theme. There is certainly some sort of judgment awaiting her, even if she doesn't seem capable of dying, just as there is judgment even of angels. But is she judged just for the sins she committed as "Eve," or are the sins of the people of whose parts she's composed added on? I'm inclined to go with the former, because I wouldn't inherit the sins of an organ donor who gives me a kidney.
One of the questions in mind while I was writing was one raised by the Kenneth Branagh's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (which is not a bad adaptation of the novel, up to a certain point). Where does the soul reside? In the mind? In the flesh? As you can see, I sort of chickened out on that question, since I can't defend any of the possible answers.
Along with that was a news story at the time that various religious groups were calling for a ban on human cloning, because they were worried about the spiritual implications. Calvinists wanted to know if you inherited the original sin of the person you were cloned from. Buddhists and Hindus feared that you might incur the negative karma of the person from whom you were cloned. If the soul resides in the flesh, then this is definitely a problem.
All of my thinking on the subject was ultimately reduced to the pragmatic. If a person had no soul, how could you really tell? Oh sure, there's plenty of science fiction where you can tell that this person has no soul because their personality is obviously bland (What P.K. Dick calls the "flattening of affect,") but what if it weren't that readily apparent?
Obviously, this isn't a work of mainstream "Christian fiction," because none of the characters convert to Christianity at the last minute, and there's certainly a lack of resolution. Oh, and the part where they're in the bar--totally wouldn't fly with the publisher.


Gregory said...

I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis:

"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

Even if the soul resides in the body, I don't think this is necessarily a problem. The body simply carries out the choices that the soul makes, therefore, the judgment is on not the body that performs the act, but the soul that decides to commit to it.

Allen said...

Yeah. That would've been a useful quotation. To clarify what I meant about the soul residing in the body: Is it a part of the body, like an additional unseen organ--a product of the flesh, an illusion of neuro-electric activity, as strict naturalists would have it? Are the soul and body one, as many eastern mystical religions claim, or, as Lewis indicates, two? If they are one, then there is no dichotomy between what is judged/punished and what can remain unjudged as unwitting participant.

Gregory said...

That's a good question. Usually I would say two, say the soul is udged only, and be done with it. But, we do know that in Romans, Paul says that those who rejected God, from Him, recieved "in themselves the due penalty for their error." I've often wondered if this meant AIDS or other such STD's.

However, it seems fairly clear that they were judged physically while alive. So does this mean that the body is, or can be, judged for what the soul commits to?

It's a good question, Allen. One that I don't know if I can answer.