Battery Yates

Battery Yates
Battery Yates, Sausalito, CA

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Walton; or, The Early Modern Humanist

A Review of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)

"You throw a torch into a pile of buildings; and when they are consumed you sit among the ruins and lament the fall. Hypocritical fiend!" - Captain Robert Walton, to Frankenstein's Monster, Volume III, Chapter VII

The conflict within young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin's mind is readily apparent throughout her masterpiece, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Here at once was a highly educated and privileged eighteen-year-old woman; a passionate Romantic; a British conservative; a liberal feminist; a lover of Percy Bysshe Shelley; a daughter of two famous (or infamous, to many) public intellectuals; and a mother who suffered the death of a child. All of these identities intertwined to produce a very human writer and her equally human novel, about the very human Victor Frankenstein and his equally human Monster, in what most observers rightfully identify as a classic Gothic novel and founding text of modern imaginative fiction. It's odd to feel this way, but I really don't think Mary intended a clear, cogent message with her "ghost story." If there is an ultimate theme, it's the assertion of humanity amid the ambiguity of modern (here, early industrial) life. But I see this message in pretty much everything, so like all good art, maybe Frankenstein simply reflects back a thoughtfully distorted image of our own current selves. At any rate, it deserves a place among the best of fiction--literary, genre, or otherwise.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Welcome to Arcturus Stream, my humble new blog! 

As this is the nth iteration of a personal blog since college, I can't say what I will end up sharing here, if anything at all. I can only say what I plan to post. And that totals to my thoughts on everything--life, people, society, philosophy, and anything else that comes to mind. I hope it allows me to keep in touch with friends and family; work out any philosophical or spiritual thoughts I may have; and comment on politics, culture, and current events.

One regular feature I'd like to pursue would be reviews of film, games (board and video), literature, (fiction and non), music, and television. I'm currently a member of, or starting to register with, several online databases for these media to share my thoughts and ratings. One of my favorite passions, as you will come to see, is reflecting on cultural texts and narratives. It's sort of my hobby, I guess--other than engaging with those texts in the first place.

When I wrote "share," by the way, I really mean to share thoughts with my future selves, rather than anyone else. I don't pretend that my thoughts on any of this stuff is worthwhile to others. If it turns out to be, great! If not, then whatever. I'll certainly find it fun to go back through all of these posts in due time.

So enjoy, reader, whether you be future Matt or anyone else.