Monday, January 16, 2012

The Struggle for Perfection

“The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” Chapter 5, Page 54.
This passage stuck out to me as a very raw and basic concept of human nature in response to challenges. When faced with a problem, are we actually concerned with the answer, or is the exciting part searching for it? In my opinion, human nature is the desire to quench a thirst that is unquenchable. By this, I mean that I don’t think people are ever really satisfied. This is why technology is constantly changing, which is more prevalent than ever in present day. Making the impossible possible has been the goal of scientists for hundreds of years. This simple fact can be applied to something far fetched such as bringing a dead body back to life, as we see in Frankenstein. It can also be applied to technology we use constantly in present day. A great example is something that we see everyday: The Iphone. After years of working on the project, the developers of Apple discovered how to combine a cell phone with an Ipod, and thus, the Iphone was born. The brilliant minds who solved the puzzle probably momentarily celebrated this accomplishment, felt fantastic, and then woke up and found a problem. The work was continued, and they improved upon this device making it smaller and adding more features, until they came up with the model we see today; the Iphone 4s. And have they stopped? Absolutely not. As I type this passage, they are hard at work improving upon technology that will never be as perfect as they want it to be.
People think they want to solve problems, but they really just want problems to solve. Victor thought that what he wanted to do was create life from death, but when he succeeded, “the beauty of the dream vanished.” It was not the end result, which he so desperately desired, but the obstacles along the road, which he had to overcome. When he completed his project, he was not delighted, but horrified. His creation was not beautiful, as he had envisioned it for years, but terrifying. Disappointment is inevitable in human nature because nothing will ever be as perfect as one imagines it. It is the idea that is perfect, and the product will never measure up. Perfection is never attainable, but people will never stop trying. Some might look at this view and see it as depressing, but I think it is inspiring in a certain way. Maybe perfection will never be reached, but the quest for it is how progress is made, and how new questions arise. After all, the mystery of life is the exciting part. 


  1. Alex-

    I enjoyed the colloquial, relatable tone and style of writing you used in this blog post. However in terms of revising this into an A paper I would suggest trying to form your opinions about human nature into a solid thesis based in contextual evidence. You have included a lot of thought-provoking concepts about relating the themes of technology found in Frankenstein to the contemporary technology of the Iphone, but I would have liked to see more about the story as evidence for your assertions. You have some interesting ideas about human behavior but have used very little critical analysis to ground your thoughts to the point where they mean something besides just being interesting. Basically, if you found a more concrete thesis and text examples, this blog would immediately be ten times stronger. This is a really good start, though!

  2. To reiterate and build upon Alison's comments: the idea that Frankenstein is concerned with the idea that "People think they want to solve problems, but they really just want problems to solve," is certainly a very interesting one, and it's certainly not wrong (although also less than obvious) to approach this through contemporary issues and technologies. In principle, the approach is fine. But in practice, as Alison points out, there's not much in the way of evidence here. Here's what I see.

    1) A concept of human nature which is very focused and opinionated, but also totally unjustified and unexplained (see my description of the pitfalls people fall into with this prompt)
    2) A concept of Victor Frankenstein's behavior which is, again, potentially interesting, but also requires lots of work to make it work. If life or human nature is all about wanting problems to solve, then why does Victor abandon scientific inquiry after his creation of the monster? Why, furthermore, doesn't he try to solve the problem of the monster until the monster tries to murder his family? In other words, Victor Frankenstein appears to be far more passive than this understanding of human nature would allow him to be - which may not be an insurmountable problem, but is certainly at least some kind of problem for your reading.
    3) Your discussion of the iphone is entirely conventional and not terribly accurate, even as such (there was hardly a process of "discovering" how to unite an ipod and a phone. Smartphones were around for years before Apple, and many of them (all of them?) even played music. Apple did lots of things with the iphone, but your description of how it played out is entirely inaccurate. How can we take an argument seriously, when you can't even be bothered to google something like "history smartphone." Casual generalization will usually get you in trouble.

    So - the concept is fine, but the execution has serious flaws.