I don't consider myself a "monster" fan per se. I did enjoy the occasional Friday Night Fright or Creature Feature on Will C s Red Eye Cinema in Eastern N. C. in the 1970's. But I never attained a robust monster-mania, like some have. When I was five or six years old, I designed a 'trail of blood' in the warehouse my Dad's paint store--out of ketchup. What a mess. At first, I thought it was pretty 'scary' and fun, until my Dad found it. Then I was really scared.
Always having had a bent towards philosophy and spiritual matters, I have often wondered where the concept of monster and normal originated. From my medical school days I learned of blood disorders in Mediterranean populations which can cause grotesque facial and skin changes to prompt the Werewolf legend (prominent facial bones and teeth, hair patterns and photosensitivity) and certainly some infants born with severe congenital defects have been referred to as such in bygone days. But this abstract concept of monster pushes us way back to our foundational assumptions about existence and standards/rules/norms by which we judge things. C. S. Lewis has written that he was converted from the dogmatic slumbers of atheism by overhearing an argument between two individuals vigorously defending their respective positions. Such vigorous and sincere arguing presupposes a world only explainable through Christian presuppositions as Lewis would later write in his many books. It struck him that these two people, though likely not cognitive of the fact, were assuming a Standard of right and wrong (each thought he was taking the "right" position) which existed and was real, not an illusion and not 'relative.' Blind naturalism could not account for this "consistently" within its presuppositional framework. Right and wrong/ good and evil were not determined by a majority vote (murder is evil this year, good the next year depending upon the democratic majority) or who has the most might or power. Morality could not be reduced to random brain "fizzes" or chemical reactions. And dualism, though a "manly" religion as Lewis described, still assumed a THIRD party, one which told its followers which was Yin and which was Yang, and not vice versa!
Such it is with monster and "non-monster."
Now, the label "monster" connotes a variety of traits, including, but not limited to, ugly vs. beautiful; scary vs. friendly; asymmetric vs. symmetric; evil vs. good; false vs. true; imperfect vs. perfect; abnormal vs. normal , etc.
Congenital anomalies and birth defects are not celebrated, nor are they seriously discussed with "neutral" emotion. Real people, unlike Mr. Spock, shudder, turn away, cry, show compassion, question or wonder "why,"?
For some, it is the adrenaline rush of monsters and their actions that attracts them--thus, the industry of thriller novels and movies. Others identify with them as misunderstood, ugly, imperfect, and outcast creatures and empathize with or pity them.
I'll stop here for the philosophy part, though much more could be said.
Monsters, as a real category, teach us something about the very nature of reality here on Earth. Think about this the next time you pull out your Monster-Maker Kit and if you are interested in pursuing the topic further, you can email me.
|Nobody's Perfect: A short treatise on the concept of perfection/imperfection and its origins|