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Oedipus dup(e)licated:(Re)producing children in the postmodern world of hyperreality

The Letter, Issue 36, Spring 2006, Pages 113 - 125


Ray O' Neill

The words induced me to turn towards myself. And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; if they had, my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. I had never yet seen a being resembling me or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.[1]

The questions Frankenstein's creature in Mary Shelley's novel asks of its own being, its raison d'etre, are questions all humans must address or confront. Why am I? How am I? What am I? Who am I? Questions of existence and being lie not only at the heart of every philosophy, theology, religion, and psychology, but indeed all science, scientific quest, and reason; "Of what a strange nature is knowledge!"[2]

From Descartes' "I think therefore I am"; to Lacan's contra- indication: "Where I think, there I am not"; to Gubar and Gilberts' feminist "The creative I am cannot be said if the "I" knows not what it is"- philosophers have proffered answers. But Frankenstein's creature's realisation 'Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money,' that coinage is the first location of identity, being, or lack thereof is identified by Baudrillard in his own postmodern, hyperreal existentialism: "I consume, therefore I am."

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