Tuesday, November 30, 2010

frosty the golem

“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” - Psalms 139:15

There seems to be a significant amount of strange and supernatural phenomenon in childhood entertainment, from the Brothers Grimm and Harry Potter to the Disney classics.
I think it is lovely, for it guarantees that there will always be dark little thoughts formed alongside all of the faux wholesome tripe that is constantly forced down the throats of the child fortunate enough to be a scion of these times. Balance, you know, is so important.
Pondering these noir childhood entertainments, combined with the balmy weather, makes me think about the season that lies six or so months from now, it gives a new perspective on the Ho-Ho-Holiday stories that we all take for granted in the winter months, and nothing says "supernatural vengeance" like a mass of unliving natural materials animated and set on a path of justice by those who have suffered at the hands of others.

Frosty the Snowman, the sanitized Rankin-Bass television special aside, is a Golem in the traditional sense.The famous seasonal song immortalized by Gene Autry holds much clear evidence as to Frosty's origins and ultimate purpose. The lyrics of the tune are easy enough to interpret correctly. Frosty is in actuality a creature of Old Testament-style power created by Kabala-worshiping children to correct the inequities they suffered at the hands of the citizens and from the horrible pogroms of the anti-Semitic town in which they reside. Lacking tools or anything that could be used as a weapon the desperate and faithful children build a Golem of legend out of the only material they could easily manipulate and gather: Snow.
By placing a hat (very likely a yarmulke) imbued with powerful magic upon a humanoid form fashioned of inanimate matter, a Golem is brought to a semblance of life by a vengeful God in answer to the children's anguished prayers. Dubbed "Frosty"by the innocent and non-ironic children, the creature is sent from its birthing place in the forest armed with a "broomstick" (rather, a huge club of some sort) into the village on a mission of vengeance. Song scribes Steven "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson do not even attempt to hide the terrible descriptions of the Snow-Golem's murderous spree of righteous retribution to be found in the lyrics of the song.
The phrase "Thumpety thump thump" is repeated several times during the song, succinctly describing not the martial tune of an impromptu parade of happy children following an imaginary character into innocent play, but rather the continuous blows of icy fists made hard as granite by the bitter cold against the flesh of those who would oppress the innocent. Frosty's first target of retribution upon entering the village is a "police officer" who is actually the symbol of racist, intolerant government and authority. Just as in the classic legend of the Golem, once the ice creature completes it's mission it departs and returns to its previous state of lifeless, inanimate matter, promising to "be back again some day" if needed to mete out swift punishment against evil-doers.
While it is true that the Golem is merely a weapon that acts as the instrument of God's will sometimes not all of the missions end in large scale destruction and death. On occasion God is merciful and Frosty the Golem is set on a path not of destruction but enlightenment.
In the story adapted from ancient legends for the 1954 issue of Dell Comics "Frosty the Snowman" the Golem is summoned by a victim of intolerance and battles racism by the simple act of patrolling a village. Frosty the Golem appears harmless and even helpful in the all-ages version of the tale, but doubtlessly the very presence of the creature forced the terrified citizenry to re-think their intolerant ways and accept the cultures and people that do not act, think, worship or dress as they do.
Earlier audiences were treated the with “The Snowman,” a 1932 classic from Ted Eshbaugh. This is the cheerful story of a jolly little boy and his jolly pet seal who live above the jolly arctic circle, having a jolly old time with all the other jolly animals until one day when they build a snowman who comes to life and becomes a horrible flesh eating monster. Grrr.
Yeah, well, this is the same Eshbaugh who gave us “The Sunshine Makers”, so you knew the ride was gonna be a little twisted. No telling how many baby boomers sought therapy in their middle years as a direct result of multiple childhood viewings of this golden oldie.
There is supposed to be a real golem in Prague. It lies waiting. Inhuman, both protector and destroyer. All he needs is one word to be brought to horrifying life. The origin of this unthinking giant can be found in an appropriately macabre place; its creator lies buried in the oldest Jewish cemetery in all of Europe. The cemetery was established in the mid 1400’s and was part of Josefov, the Jewish Ghetto, an area created as a way of oppressing and controlling the Jewish population of Prague. With only a tiny plot of land on which it was legal for Jews to bury their dead, it was a crowded affair from the very start. Used until 1787, it came to contain the skeletal remains of over 100,000 Prague Jews. Graves were layered one on top of the other like pages in a book, reaching up to 12 deep. No doubt over time the simple coffins have disintegrated and the skeletons have drifted into complex three dimensional patterns of bone. The Old Jewish cemetery in Prague a wonder to behold. A stone forest of over 12,000 slabs grows from the mossy earth. The ground rolls and undulates through the cemetery and the massively weighty gravestones lean against each other at odd angles like a group of old drunks. One coffin along the winding path through the cemetery stands out from the rest. The large bed-shaped headstone is the resting spot of Rabbi Judah Lew ben Bezalel, or as he is often known, the Maharal of Prague. While he was an important Jewish figure for a number of reasons, he is remembered for one thing above all. His hands were the one that brought to life that proto-Frankenstein, that original man-made monster, the Golem of Prague. In 1580 the Jewish community was under attack, and was about to be accused of a ritual child murder, a common way a arousing public hatred against Jews and inciting a mob to anti-Jewish violence. It was also an excuse often used to expel the entire Jewish community from a city. Worried, the Maharal asked God what to do. That night in his dreams he was given instructions on how to create a Golem: a creature made of clay. Even for the holiest of men creating life is forbidden by Jewish law, but in this case an exception was to be made. The task would be a dangerous one. He was to use the “Shem Hameforash”, the true name of God, a word so powerful that it could easily kill its speaker. After purifying himself, the Maharal went to the river, and by torchlight sculpted a giant body out of the river clay. After performing the complicated rituals from his dream, he wrote the word Emet, meaning God’s truth, across the muddy forehead. The Golem’s fiery eyes snapped opened to his master. The Golem is soulless and unintelligent, a brute enforcer. It is said the Golem successfully defended the Jewish community against its aggressors, but that as it grew larger and larger it began attacking Gentiles and terrifying Prague. In some tales the Golem turns even on the Jews and its own creator. Eventually the Maharal was forced to destroy the creature by wiping off the first letter written on its forehead, changing the word from Emet, or God’s truth, to the word Met or death. However the body of the Golem was to be stored in the attic of the Synagogue in Prague. Perhaps the Golem still resides there today, waiting for the word, waiting to be summoned.
Can a golem G.I. Joe action figure be far behind? Hmmm... Until then, here is a little article from some magazine called the "New York Times" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/europe/11golem.html?_r=1
Monster Piss
1 1/2 oz Absolut® lemon vodka
1 1/2 oz Captain Morgan® Parrot Bay coconut rum
4 oz pine-orange-banana juice
2 oz Sprite® soda
Mix everything in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and pour into glass. Add the sprite to the glass. Grrrr.

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
zeitgeist, particular friend, perky libertine, animated trickster, iconoclast, rabble-rouser, object of worship, provocateur, capricious damp enchantress, idiosyncratic beloved reptile, whimsical saucy booze hound, bellwether, luminary, stoic, pensive illicit paramour, aloof, engaged, intuitive, curious, perplexing deranged mastermind, passionate, lasciviously adored offspring, amorous, sultry flamboyant charioteer, scholar, scribe, exalted thespian, voracious, considerable chieftain, impaired, cynical colleague, dreamer, procrastinator, loathsome glutton, artist, oppressed peasant, dainty heathen, narcissist, self-loathing...renaissance man