Resistance to monsters is clearly futile

Bosch,_Hieronymus_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights,_right_panel_-_Detail_Butterfly_monster_(mid-right)While we may no longer worry about being eaten by trolls on the way home, there remains a fascination with, and fear of, these creatures that have shadowed us throughout history. After all, we should remember who created them: not the gods, not Echidna, but man. (Christopher Dell, “Monsters: A Bestiary of the Bizarre”)

We usually think of monsters as fictional creatures found in legends and horror fiction; but monsters DO exist. Nature regularly produces animals and plants of abnormal form, size or structure. Most of the time, those deviations are the result of an accident and/or have negative consequences, so we naturally tend to reject them. Monsters are a generalization or extrapolation of those naturally occurring calamitous deviations.  The word “monster” derives from Latin “monstrum”, an aberrant thing or event that was taken as an omen or sign that something was wrong within the natural order.

Monsters are usually hideous, evil and produce fear or physical harm by either its appearance or its actions. We also use the word monster to refer to a person who does horrible things. However monsters are, above all, intriguing creatures which exert a big attraction over our imagination. If our body’s instinctive reaction in front of a monster will be to flee away, our mind will usually stay hooked to it. Why? I think the reason is that monsters are passages to unknown territories. With a monster, our imagination will travel instantaneously through vast distances to locate the place where it may come from. Many years ago, those places were usually remote lands beyond the known oceans. Today, monsters usually come from outer space, remote galaxies, and they populate our films and video games.

Finding a monster is the proof that there are things which does not fit into our map of the world, into the “normal”. It obliges us to reconsider, rethink and reinvent the normal. Monsters are powerful not because they can be incredibly huge and strong, or they can harm us. They are powerful because they can put our theories and our present order against the ropes. They can trigger paradigm shifts.

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Featured Image: Hieronymus BoschThe Garden of Earthly Delights Right Panel, Detail Butterfly Monster

3 comments

  1. […] Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born in Germany, she fled the country during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. In 1961, Arendt attended the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a German Nazi SS lieutenant colonel and one of the organisers of the Holocaust. Arendt was struck by the fact that Eichmann was not a menacing monster. […]

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