This week’s guest on my podcast, Dr. Robert Romanyshyn, is an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute where I believe he taught for more than 20 years. The Pacifica Graduate Institute is Jungian-oriented program in Santa Barbara, California. It’s the place I recommend when people ask me where they can go for solid, depth-oriented graduate work. And Dr. Romanyshyn is a Jungian through and through but not at all doctrinaire about it. His approach to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein circles around the topic in a fashion that is often typical of the Jungian school, like a dog searching for just the right place on the carpet.
One of the things I find most remarkable is that Mary Shelly was only 18 years old when she wrote this book. The tale is so nuanced and deep that it has fascinated filmmakers, philosophers, psychologists and writers for nearly 200 years. One has to wonder if Shelly didn’t so much construct the story as channel it. Little wonder that Robert’s take on it is to wonder if it isn’t at heart a set of prophecies.
Robert’s reflections on the tale leads him to structure his book around eight questions, each of which is cast as a hypothetical prophecy about where technology is taking us.
Of course the seeds of todays technological world were already present in Shelly’s time, the excitement about the wonders of science, the ascendance of reason over faith, the beginnings of a mechanist view of the universe, down to our very bodies.
Robert shared with us that he spent 15 years working on a previous book analyzing the Frankenstein story. It’s interesting that after having invested so much of his thought, time, energy, and talent he still couldn’t let it go. Or, it wasn’t ready to let go of him. Like the Frankenstein monster, itself, the tale has become alive, an autonomous entity that challenges us to wake up from our sleep walking embrace of technology. We are called to awareness of our flesh and blood, embodied selves, to break though our layers of denial, to stop the blind march of unintended consequences.
In the face of the dying species around us, the melting polar ice caps, the evidence of our imperiled planet, Robert sees in the Monster’s tale seeds of hope. One being love and the other a poetic sensibility that is fully open to the wonders and gifts of nature.
If you haven’t read Mary Shelly’s book, Frankenstein, or haven’t done so in a long time, I highly recommend you do so and then follow it up with Victor Frankenstein, The Monster and the Shadows of Technology: The Frankenstein Prophecies by Robert D. Romanyshyn. The combination will give you a new set of lenses to regard this dream we call reality.
Another option you might want to consider is to take a 10-session online on-demand audio course with Robert, titled The Frankenstein Prophecies: Jungian-Archetypal Reflections on Ecological Crises and the God Wars. Use my discount code DRDAVE on checkout at JungPlatform.com/courses