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The Monster’s Doctor

Mary Shelley’s horror story, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, is a classic examination of the ‘science vs. religion’ debate. Written during the Industrial Revolution, Doctor Victor Frankenstein is so taken by the technological achievements of the time he forgets the soul of his creation; his Monster, and ultimately loses all he loves as a result.

Scientists conducting electrical experiments at the time certainly provided much of the inspiration for Shelley’s maniacal doctor, but one man is cited as a possible model for the theme of her novel.

1673 – 1734

Johann Conrad Dippel was born in Castle Frankenstein in south central Germany in the region of Hesse. As was the custom of the day, he acquried Franckensteinensis or Franckensteina-Strataemontanus as a surname and became forever linked to the place of his birth. He received a Master in Theology in 1693 at the University of Giessen where he also studied philosophy and alchemy and gained a prominent position among Europe’s intellectual elite.

Influenced by the Age of Reason while remaining a fervently religious man, Dippel authored several controversal theological papers under his nom de guerre; Christianus Democritus, a name that represented the duality of his views. In them he called for the demise of the traditional church organization and a rejection of the Bible as the literal word of God in favor of a more personal approach to faith. They were widely circulated throughout Europe and earned him both praise and criticism. One enthusiastic follower, Emanuel Swedenborg, later criticized him as a cultish opportunist who was “bound to no principles, but was in general opposed to all, whoever they may be, of whatever principle or faith…becoming angry with any one for contradicting him.” Swedenborg also accused Dippel of being the ‘most vile devil…who attempted wicked things.’ This opinion was surely based upon his suspected experiments in alchemy. In his Maladies and Remedies of the Life of the Flesh, Dippel announced his discovery of the ‘Elixir of Life’, as well as, a method to exorcise demons through potions produced from the boiled bones and flesh of animals. Even more alarming to the public were rumors of his attempts at ‘soul-tranference’ on human cadavers, where he was viewed as playing God on desecrated corpses.

In the end, it was reported by his contemporaries that after having been thoroughly trashed by the religious leaders of the day Dippel gave up his faith altogether, directing all his energy to his experiments in alchemy. He never backed down from his arguments or the experiments that he felt supported them and may have even actively encouraged rumors that he was in league with the Devil, having sold his soul to become a dark sorcerer.

So, in the end, Mary Shelley may have used this real-life ‘mad scientist’ as inspiration but the moral lesson she provided her Doctor Frankenstein was lost on Johann Conrad Dippel.


My Favs: The Dude Speaks, Man

My favorite quotes from ‘The Big Lebowski’

(in no particular order)

1)   The Dude:  Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

2)  The Dude:  Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!

3)  The Dude:  This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you’s. And, uh, lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head. Luckily I’m adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regimen to keep my mind limber.

4) Malibu Police Chief: Mr. Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. You don’t draw shit, Lebowski. Now we got a nice, quiet little beach community here, and I aim to keep it nice and quiet. So let me make something plain. I don’t like you sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behavior, and I don’t like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?

The Dude: [after a pause] I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.

5)  The Big Lebowski: Are you employed sir?

The Dude: Employed?

The Big Lebowski: You don’t go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?

The Dude: Is this a… what day is this?

6)  The Dude:  The Dude abides.

7)  The Dude:  What I’m blathering about – new shit has come to light, man. She owes money all over town, including to known pornographers, and that’s cool… that’s cool, and of course they’re going to say that they didn’t get the money, because… she wants more, man! She’s got to feed the monkey.

8) The Dude:  Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

9) Mr. Lebowski: I cannot solve your problems, sir,only you can.

The Dude: Oh, fuck it.

Mr. Lebowski: Yes, that’s your answer. That’s your answer to everything. Tattoo it on your forehead. Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski! Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski! Condolences! The bums lost! My advice to you is to do what your parents did! Get a job, sir! The bums will always lose! Do you hear me, Lebowski?! The bums will always lose

10) Maude: My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

11) The Dude: We dropped off the damn money.

Mr. Lebowski: We?!

The Dude: The royal we. You know, the editorial.

12) Walter:  Nihilists. Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of national Socialism, Dude. At least it’s an ethos. And also, let’s not forget let’s not forget, Dude that keeping wildlife, um, an amphibious rodent for, um, you know, domestic… within the city…that ain’t legal either.

The Dude: What are you, a fucking park ranger now?

Walter: No, I’m just trying…

The Dude: Who gives a shit about the fucking marmot?

Walter: We are sympathizing here, Dude.

The Dude: Fuck sympathy. I don’t need your fucking sympathy, man. I need my fucking Johnson.

Donnie: What do you need that for, Dude?

13) The Dude: You know, Walter, you’re right.There is an unspoken message here. It’s fuck you!

14) The Dude: What is that, yoga?

Maude: It increases the chances of conception.

The Dude spits his drink out.

15) The Dude to Walter: You fucking asshole! Everything’s a fucking travesty with you, man.

16) The Stranger: How have things been going?

The Dude: Oh, you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs.

17)  The Stranger:  ‘Course I ain’t never been to London, and I ain’t never seen France. And I ain’t never seen no queen in her damned undies, as the feller says. But I’ll tell you what – after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I’m about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin’ every bit as stupefyin’ as you’d seen in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin’ like the good Lord gypped me.


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