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On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

Monsters, prodigies, ill omens, images of raw wildness and chaotic disorder haunt the human imagination and have done, presumably from earliest period of our humanity. Whether manifesting as huge, lumbering beasts, or physically or morally deformed human beings, they have inspire terror and awe through the ages.

Philosopher Stephen Asma here traces reactions to these monsters in the western tradition from classical and biblical times to the modern period. The monsters change over time, and have gradually become secularised from signs of God’s wrath to either genetic flaws (which are now seen as providing important evidence for evolutionary development theory) or zoological or cryptozoological creatures. Once fearsome beasts such as wolves and gorillas are now re-presented as warm loveable creatures.

Whatever form they take monsters remain however as images of the “other”, in which this “other” becomes “the worst thing there is”.

Read the original article at: Magonia Blog

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