Monday, August 05, 2002

"The Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq and
install a client regime in Baghdad may be popular in
America, but to the outside world it increasingly
recalls old-fashioned British imperialism. [...]
To form Iraq, Britain knitted together three utterly
disparate, mutually hostile regions: Kurdish tribal
lands; the Sunni Muslim region around Baghdad, then a
small city with a predominantly Jewish and Christian
population; and the Shia south. The result was an
unstable, artificial, Frankenstein state - a Mideast
Yugoslavia. [...]

"Alfonso, like Frankenstein's creature, is assembled
from pieces -- sable-plumed helmet, foot, leg, sword,
all of them, like the hand, quite oversized -- which
fall from the sky or just materialize here and there
about the castle grounds, relentless as Freud's slow
return of the repressed. The activating agencies,
again like those in Frankenstein, are non-mechanical.
The final assembly of "the form of Alfonso, dilated to
an immense magnitude," is achieved through
supernatural means: a family curse, and the
intercession of Otranto's patron saint.
The craze for Gothic fiction after The Castle of
Otranto was grounded, I suspect, in deep and religious
yearnings for that earlier mythic time which had come
to be known as the Age of Miracles. In ways more and
less literal, folks in the 18th century believed that
once upon a time all kinds of things had been possible
which were no longer so. Giants, dragons, spells. The
laws of nature had not been so strictly formulated
back then. What had once been true working magic had,
by the Age of Reason, degenerated into mere machinery.
Blake's dark Satanic mills represented an old magic
that, like Satan, had fallen from grace. "
Is It OK to be a Luddite?