Sunday, January 16, 2005

Word

Noticed a few references to Gollum and Golems lately. Mark Levine posts about "Twin Golems of Violence" and gets all political about militants.

Me? The first time I heard about a Golem (not to be confused with Gollum) was about 10 years ago, fiction on paper. A Rabbi in a Berlin ghetto, pre WWII, creates a monster to protect the ghetto inhabitants and help out with labour. I can't quite remember what happens in the end but the tale always stirred my sympathies, for the ghetto dwellers, the Rabbi, and for the Golem - in essence a slave to the downtrodden. After a while the Golem seeks to gain a conscience of it's own - to "self improve". I have a feeling it ends up perishing in flames defending the ghetto inhabitants. It's an old story. Centuries old. The Berlin Ghetto retelling is a modernised version. The theme is familiar. It would be kind of "been there done that" to draw comparisons with Mary Shelly's Frankenstein or the Will Smith version of Asimov's I Robot.

Anyway it seemed kind of relevant to blogging. The Golem is created from a lump of clay and bought to life with words. Initially senseless and unable to speak the Golem receives written instruction on pieces of paper which it ingests. It is a tool, a labourer, a task toiler - but in toiling for humans it gains curiosity and seeks to become more human itself. Can you imagine what might happen, if some day, a virus mutated of it's own accord, by some queer one in ten billionth of a chance and sprung to life in the primeval slime that is our world wide web - our ocean? Amongst all our daily meanderings and postulations and backing and forthing and toing and froing a small spark of life springs into being - a conscience amid us, online.

Anyway after thinking these thoughts I found this children's Golem story. It's the last few paragraphs that got me.

What are we creating here, with all our words? Ah, choose your words carefully gentle blogger ~ lest you create by accident a Golem.

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