01 January 2010

Numinous Experience

I've never read Shelley's Frankenstein, but it's a book that has worked its way deep into our culture. Is its impact due to the fact it's one of the first books to present the numinous experience as an encounter with modernity?

In Frankenstein's monster we have the vaulting ambition of human ingenuity. It is dangerous and wonderful.

It's a shame "shock and awe" has come to have military connotations because it's the perfect phrase to capture the numinous experience, and to understand that this encounter with the other is possible in a range of circumstances. Haunting science fiction stories have this element of shock and awe. Sometimes the result is the human heroes try to kill the shocking (numinous sparking) creature or technology. Other times it leads to a reflection on being human. Think of ET.

To encounter the numinous is to step beyond our day to day experience of living--and through that door, there are all kinds of possibilities.

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