|Image Credit: Goodreads|
Note! Spoiler Warning! If you are interested in reading The Golem and The Jinni, you may want to avoid this post. I am only a third of the way through the book, so I can't at this juncture offer an opinion as to whether my musings here are a spoiler or not. This is not a book review, but rather a desperate attempt to write something in my blog, long overdue a post, and taking the cheap and dirty way of copying and pasting a comment I made at the book club. There should be a dumb post warning on this as well.
I am reading The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker for my book club at Goodreads this month.
Amazon.com, The Golem and The Jinni, Helene Wecker
As a matter of explanation for the post that follows, a Golem is a being from Hebrew myth made of clay that will serve its master and can only be destroyed by its master. So in this book, near the turn of the 19th to 20th century, a man seeks a perfect wife and goes to an evil failed rabbi wizard and asks for a Golem to be made but seeking a companion, specifies that the Golem should be intelligent and curious. For a sum, the wizard creates a near perfect female Golem of clay and instills in her intelligence and curiosity, but no free will as she will be under her master's control. The Golem has two basic commands one that will wake her, and one that will destroy her. So the man takes his still inanimate Golem in a crate and heads off the New York on a steam ship. Along the way, consumed with the fear that the wizard cheated him, he wakes the Golem against the advice of the wizard. She is fully functional, however the man immediately dies of a burst appendix, and the Golem is left masterless. Having no master she is receptive to all the immediate desires and wishes of those near her and it is driving her a bit mad. Also having no master she appears to have free will and a sense of morality. She arrives in New York and is aimlessly walking about. She is involved in a minor theft, stealing a treat from a rich man and giving it to a hungry child. A retired rabbi happens by the gathering crowd demanding that the woman be punished for the theft. He recognizes her as a Golem and takes her in. Rabbi Meyer is old and frail. He fights a moral battle of whether he should destroy the Golem, little good comes from Golems, and yet Meyer grows fond of the Golem because of her intelligence, morality, sensitivity, honesty, and kindness. Yet he worries that she may as all Golems do, eventually go bad. So this is the back drop for the comments that follow.
|Does a 57 Chevy have more soul...|
|... than a Prius?|
|Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter getting their asses kicked|
by IBM's Watson on Jeopardy.
|Reductionist's view of the human soul?|
So getting back to Chava the Golem. If she indeed passes a Turing test for human like qualities: intelligence, free will, moral agency, love, hatred, greed, fear, or perhaps distilling it down to what I have read in my new age flakey readings, the two elementary basic emotions, love and fear, which she seems to possess, does Meyer have the right to destroy her? This business of only God being able to create a soul, well let's put all the men on one continent and all the women on another continent separated by a vast ocean, and let's see how many human souls God creates. So in that way is the Golem being made by man any less of a creature than a human child? Does the circumstances of a human child's conception ranging along a vast spectrum from sacred loving intent, to hot loveless (perhaps drunken) lust, to cold and evil rape in any way affect the quality of the soul of the conceived child? Does a child born of rape have any less of a soul than a child born to parents that were lovingly trying to conceive?
But what of the Golem's dangerous qualities, extreme strength, the tendency to run amuck, should she not be destroyed before its too late? But then are we not destroying her based on unrealized potential? Who among us is born incapable of murder?
So what are your thoughts, is Chava any less of a being than we are? Does she have a soul?
57 Chevy: Wikipedia, 1957 Chevrolet
Prius: Wikipedia, Toyota Prius
IBM Watson: Wikipedia, Watson (computer)
Synapse: Wikipedia, Neuron