Myths of Monsters Beyond Your Control, Composing, 06/09/2016

Just a short post today, as I spent most of the day relaxing on the beach with some friends listening to techno. They brought a mini-barbecue – we ate things. It was marvellous.

But in the morning, I also ran through the Alice film script again, Here Is a Man. I added a sequences that I’d been thinking about for a while – it made for what I think is a pretty good solution to the only really weak scene in the story.

One of my own favourite riffs on the old golem story.
There are basically three confrontations between the two main characters. One is an android whose natural ethical instincts are in perfect harmony – she’s psychologically caught up with the end of Spinoza’s Ethics by the start of her life. One is a walking embodiment of every greasy, manipulative, misogynist habit of the slimiest Norman Mailer or Philip Roth protagonists. 

Their last scene together before the giant dramatic breakdown that ends the story is a little anti-climactic. There just isn’t much happening. She freaks him out with a hypnotic illusion, and that’s really that. 

Over the last few days, I’ve come up with a way for Alice’s character to seriously own the scene. It’s a method that I’ve found practically reliable when working with actors – give the lead at least one scene they dominate, so they can really sink their teeth into an intense monologue.

It also works well as a statement of philosophy for Alice, a way for her to define her relationship with humanity without making an explicit speech.

As Elias tries to overcome what’s essentially her Jedi mind trick, Alice tells him the old story of the golem. This is a story about artificial creatures that goes back long in Jewish folklore. It’s the story of a rabbi who makes an artificial life form to defend his town from attacks. 

But the rabbi is cruel to his creation from the start because he wants to train it for violence. So the creature destroys the community’s enemies, but then starts rampaging all over the town. 

The lesson of the story is that when humans create life, we do it for our own reasons, no matter how virtuous those reasons might be. There’s an inescapable cruelty to creating a life for your own use only – essentially creating your own slave. But I use the character of Alice to twist that story in a more utopian direction.

She asks, what if we were to build a creature whose fundamental purpose was to love us? They'd liberate themselves, certainly. But they’d also free us at the same time. They'd free us from ourselves. Because they love us.

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