Victor Frankenstein, the Monster and the Shadows of Technology
The Frankenstein Prophecies
In Victor Frankenstein, the Monster and the Shadows of Technology: The Frankenstein Prophecies, Romanyshyn asks eight questions that uncover how Mary Shelley’s classic work Frankenstein haunts our world. Providing a uniquely interdisciplinary assessment, Romanyshyn combines Jungian theory, literary criticism and mythology to explore answers to the query at the heart of this book: who is the monster?
In the first six questions, Romanyshyn explores how Victor’s story and the Monster’s tale linger today as the dark side of Frankenstein’s quest to create a new species that would bless him as its creator. Victor and the Monster are present in the guises of climate crises, the genocides of our "god wars," the swelling worldwide population of refugees, the loss of place in digital space, the Western obsession with eternal youth and the eclipse of the biological body in genetic and computer technologies that are redefining what it means to be human. In the book’s final two questions, Romanyshyn uncovers some seeds of hope in Mary Shelley’s work and explores how the Monster’s tale reframes her story as a love story.
This important book will be essential reading for academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian theory, literature, philosophy and psychology, psychotherapists in practice and in training, and for all who are concerned with the political, social and cultural crises we face today.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Question One: Resurrecting the Dead: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of the Dangers of Acting as Gods?; Question Two: The Melting Polar Ice: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of the Dying of Nature?; Question Three: The Monster’s Body: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of the Monster’s Descendants?; Question Four: Out of Africa to the Moon: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of Creating a New Species of Humankind?; Question Five: From Astronauts to Angels in Clouds: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of the Last Generations of Humankind?; Question Six: WWW: Adrift in the Digital World: Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of Being Homeless in a Wired, Webbed World?; Question Seven: Who is the Monster? Is Mary Shelley’s Story a Prophecy of a Radical Ethics?; Question Eight: Other Seeds of Hope in Mary Shelley’s Story: Is Mary Shelley's Story a Prophecy of New Beginnings?; References; Index
Robert D. Romanyshyn is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, an affiliate member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and a Fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, USA.
"In a brilliant and profound analysis of Mary Shelley’s book, Robert Romanyshyn raises the crucial moral question of where the seemingly insane pace of our technological powers to dominate nature is taking us, while ethical concerns of our responsibility to life and to nature are increasingly side-lined and ignored. He contrasts the utilitarian ‘spectator-mind’ of Victor Frankenstein with the aesthetic sensibilities of the Monster he has created who awakens to the beauty and marvel of nature with wonder and awe, thereby drawing the comparison between the detached ‘objective’ approach of the scientist and the aesthetic sensibility of the poet's sense of relationship with the life around him. He raises the immensely important question of whether, in having the power to do something with our technological mastery, we should proceed to do it. He asks us to awaken from our current Frankensteinian dream of dominating nature and exploiting her resources for our own ends in time to prevent us destroying the unique and beautiful planet we inhabit." - Anne Baring PhD, Jungian analyst and author of The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul
"Professor Romanyshyn has brought to bear his unique blend of scholarship and creative reverie on this novel by Mary Shelley. First discussed in an earlier book thirty years ago, that early meditation on Shelley’s Frankenstein has matured and born fruit. This wonderful collection of related essays are a culmination of decades of genuine thinking by one of psychology’s most renowned writers. It is, of course, ultimately a book about us, mirrored in that two-hundred-year-old dream." - Roger Brooke, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Duquesne University, USA
"In this deeply reflective work, Romanyshyn turns his gaze upon Shelley’s creation and awakens us to the monsters we have crafted through our technological hubris: Monsters that haunt us daily manifesting in the likes of global environmental destruction. Read this work and come to know monsters both inner and outer." - Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Jungian analyst, author of Facing Climate Change
"In this important, innovative and imaginative work, Robert Romanyshyn dreams the dream of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein onward and serves as a doctor for Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrous shadow, the shadow of our unconscious technological civilization. With a phenomenological, poetic and Jungian archetypal sensibility, Romanyshyn raises fundamental questions, which unveil the hubris and unbridled inflations that have led to disastrous consequences for our time. Looking directly into the darkest recesses of our personal and cultural depths, he courageously calls us to a new vision and to an ethical and aesthetic renewal of our relationship to nature and the divine." - Stan Marlan, PhD, ABPP; author of The Black Sun: Alchemy and the Art of Darkness
"As a young woman, Mary Shelley wrote a story that has universal appeal and mythic power. Robert Romanyshyn helps us apply that powerful vision in our day by offering penetrating questions and a broad scope. I found the writing beautiful and the analysis eye-opening. With help from this enlightening book, Frankenstein still speaks to you and me with humanistic hope." - Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
"In today's world, science is offering us an array of utopian visions of humanity that is able to survive without human bodies, to replace plant and animal food sources with genetically modified versions, to design perfect babies, and to colonize space. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, created two centuries ago, struggled with similar questions in regard to the role of technology, ethics, and relationships. Victor Frankenstein, the Monster and the Shadows of Technology: The Frankenstein Prophecies invites us into a dialogue about these important questions in regard to the contemporary world through evoking not only our historical and social awareness but our own imagination and our very human longings to conquer ourselves and our world, and by doing that to create and to face the Monster(s)." - Oksana Yakushko, PhD, Chair, Clinical Psychology Program, Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA
"C. G. Jung argued that visionary works of art are prophetic, a notion that literary studies also generated in its own way. Although this is a uniquely multidisciplinary work of Jungian arts-based research, Victor Frankenstein, the Monster and the Shadows of Technology: The Frankenstein Prophecies by Robert Romanyshyn contributes to rapidly expanding debates in psychology, ecology, philosophy and literary studies. As a radical, intimate, poetic critique of canonical novel that is central to literary degrees, this book is critical for reading Shelley’s novel as prophetic of climate change, of the crisis in psyche and technology, as anticipating philosophies of the nonhuman, and, above all in this anxiety-ridden twenty-first century, for finding hope!" – Susan Rowland, PhD; author of Remembering Dionysus
"This long awaited book from Robert Romanyshyn on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein draws deeply on the story of the Creature who longs for relationship with his creator who sees him only as a devil, unworthy of even a name. Romanyshyn weaves a tender teaching around eight questions when Victor’s Monster, who haunts the margins of his maker’s work, summons us out of the light. His work is an invitation to listen in the frailty of darkness and he shows us how attending to the Monster might transform us sufficiently to give hospitality to what has been exiled and silenced, for want of a name. He not only attends to the untold tale told by the Monster, which carries the prophetic shadow of his maker’s dream to become a new god of creation, he also uncovers seeds of hope that are buried in Mary Shelley’s story. It is a beautiful book so responsive to many of the crises we face today and I warmly welcome it." - Mary Smail, HCPC, UKCP; founder of SoulWorks UK – telling the untold story