am I a monster?
— I feel like a victim of
my own existence

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a wonderful book. I read it aged about sixteen, and it seemed especially full of meaning ten years later when I found myself a runaway from hospital. The monster in the book was an outcast from society, as I was, of course, but more than that, I felt the monster to be a symbol of consciousness itself. Human consciousness is the only thing we know of that wonders about its own origins; that painful wondering is what Mary Shelley captured. In my dream last night, I was briefly lucid, and felt absolutely determined to use my ability to control the dream in order to make sure that I copulate with any female body at all. In that sense I was predatory in the dream. But of course I was also helpless in the face of being driven by my own sexual feelings. It’s strange to me that consciousness needs so badly to believe in its own power, skill, mastery and control — when in fact the human situation (or that of any life) is really one of profound helplessness in so many respects. I was googling ‘Heisenberg’ a few days ago, and learned that Heisenberg’s wife was the sister of E.F.Schumacher, whose bestseller Small Is Beautiful I never yet read. Schumacher’s Wikipedia entry mentions his final book A Guide for the Perplexed and it’s clear my poem this morning owes quite a bit to some of these ideas.


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