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Technology, the Scottish Play, and Pop Culture

Jerry Salyer suggests an intriguing connection between Shrek, Twilight, and other modern writings on the one hand and society’s greased toboggan ride into technological disintegration on the other. All of this he traces back to Macbeth and the misuse of creation by both the witches on the heath and that notorious usurper of the throne.

Bits of a dismembered Creation fuel the cauldron, which radiates infernal energies that may then be channeled for the witches’ purposes. So the cauldron is an appropriate representation of the Baconian dream, because for the Baconian the goal of science is not so much to comprehend nature as “to dissect her into parts,” thereby “extend[ing] the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe.” To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently unnatural technology is indistinguishable from witchcraft; as Clarke’s countryman C.S. Lewis observes, said similarity is not entirely coincidental.

We’ve come a long way, it seems, from the motion picture Frankenstein in which the doctor “playing god” is rightly feared and attacked.

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