Monday, July 4, 2011

Science. Man vs machine vs eye of child-gods

Harper and I were walking back from the store the other day. It was steamy hot. We passed a man coming around the side of his car. He was tall. A few seconds later, Lux said, 'I thought that guy was Frankenstein for a moment. I know it wasn't really, but I looked up and he was tall and his head was big and square.'

We'd been discussing the meaning of 'evoke' and 'evocative' so I said that this was a good example of his shadow *evoking* the specter of Frankenstein, and did she see how the mind can play tricks on us? Just like at night when we hear scratching outside our windows, the first choice is generally a thirty-foot-tall beast with incredible talons, rather than the tree branches that are always there.

'Besides,' I added, 'we know there's no such thing as Frankensteins. That's a story, done for effect.'
'Well,' she replied, 'I think scientists made them but then destroyed them.'
And from there we entered a ten-minuted debate about whether Frankenstein was a (once-dead) human with a living brain, or if he was part-machine (robot) and part human.
I traded heavily on logic and reason: 'By definition, if he's metal, then he's a robot. You can't have a half-metal robot human. Or, if you can, that's not Frankenstein.'
'Well, (my grandmother) has steel in her knees and hips.'
'True, but she's alive.'
'And what about those metal things in his kneck?'
'Those were to hold the head onto the body, and were over-sized for effect.'
'How do you know?'
We called it a truce.

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