Posted by: Mark Nielsen | January 9, 2012

Stabbing Frankenstein: A Nightmare Analyzed


Monsters, gargoyles, and the demons of everyday life…

I have kept a private journal, somewhat separate from public blogging, for many years. (Since well before blogging or personal computing existed, in fact… my oldest spiral notebook dates from sometime midway through high school, and I’m presently 46.)

But occasionally something I begin as private work, or seeds for personal reflection and healing, raises my curiosity about what a reading public (yeah, all eight of you…) might find of value in it. That’s the type of post we have today.

At least one prior post about a “nightmare” -a strange scenario where I tried keeping a lion as a pet- sparked some thoughts from others and was a bit of a turning point in my personal “anger management”. I’m not sure whether today’s post will have similar far-reaching appeal, but either way, here goes nothing… Or something:

1/9/12, 7:46am

Awakened in the middle of the night from a nightmare in which I struggled with a sort of monster. We were in a very dark tunnel, and though the creature’s form was that of a man, it was faceless and much larger than a man. Made me think of the classic Karloff movie’s Frankenstein monster – tall, slow moving, green-skinned (if it had skin at all, it seemed more “oozy”). Since I was near a doorway, I had a chance to fight or flee (I think). Somewhat uncharacteristically for me, I chose to fight.

Earlier in the same dream, or in another, there had been a kidnapping. Except my sister Laura was the one trying to find and free me. Both my sisters were definitely in the dream. I was trapped in the back of a semi truck trailer, not unlike several “powerless” women in the *Criminal Minds* episode I watched last night.

Back in the tunnel: To fight, I had a choice of several weapons, like a saw, and a railroad spike sort of thing (but sharper, seemingly with a cutting edge also). I ended up choosing the spike/short blade. As I stepped out into the hall/tunnel again, the man-creature was right there.

It apparently had no feeling, no fear, but embodied pure evil and malevolence, a cold, enslaved quality, or an inhuman one (animal/predator?). Just a will-less compulsion to destroy. Just as our physical contact happened, before any confrontation or blood, I awoke with a start, heart racing.

Then I read this in the Chet Baker bio this morning:

It is always a terrible moment for me, that moment when I have to appear with my instrument in front of the public. It grabs me by the throat, an inexplicable terror, an unreasonable fear…I suddenly see myself exposed to failure, to shame. Only the drug can help me overcome this moment. I return to being the master. I feel calm. The public stops being an enemy, a hostile bunch of adversaries ready to strike me down with their whistles. I don’t have anyone in front of me anymore. I am alone with my trumpet and my music.”

Whistles and “adversaries striking me down”. Seems vaguely similar to the Transylvanian mob looking to kill Frankenstein’s monster with pitchforks and torches.

All because of shame, insecurity, the perceived unacceptability (of the Shadow, or the beast/monster), and because of the doctor’s need (and Chet’s, …and mine?) to prove himself. Of course, Dr. Frankenstein’s actions also had to do with pride, the shiny side of shadowy shame.

I am hearing, dreaming all this on the heels of Pastor Fred’s sermon yesterday, about how there is nothing I can do to earn salvation or grace. It is “just because”, coming from God’s pure love.

I will confess to feeling stalked this year, a very vulnerable year for me, mostly because of the divorce. “Stalked” by alcohol, tv, writing, any addiction that might take hold and numb the pain of my everyday life awhile. Delaying of responsibility, of mature choices, all very tempting. Maybe stalked by more than that, some spiritual monster, but that’s a bigger, more loaded question, isn’t it?

I saw elements of this numbing behavior in the movie “Solitary Man” with Michael Douglas, also watched just last night. Sex, another numbing agent (and Mr. Douglas’ main one in the movie), might be the only one I have kept mostly at bay — though that’s as much from inexperience in dating and geekiness, as from intention. I certainly spend plenty of fantasy time, numbing my loneliness.

My “monsters” are multiplying, my hope becoming de-stabilized. Some stuff is beyond my control. Like I can’t shave fifteen years off my life to be in that age bracket I’d like to be in, where “fresh starts” are more natural, and floundering is easier to justify.

I’ve been mostly in a lost or “under attack” state for awhile now… which makes me think of that dark tunnel, and Frankenstein’s monster. (Who was himself a victim in some ways, if I read the novel and its mythic themes properly.)

I can barely see what I am fighting against, I’m not sure I even want to fight, and not sure I have what it takes to win the fight.

And I’m not sure where God is in all of it, either: why I don’t feel like I have been fought for, saved, or embraced. I take it on faith that I have been, but when the monsters come, and keep coming, it’s hard to keep the faith.


  1. A couple links to prior blog posts analyzing my dreams.

    The first, that serious and dark “lion dream” mentioned above:

    The second, a light, funny and typically surreal dream about my friends, the Jewish Purim tradition, and the Chicago Bears:

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