My Favorite Golem

(c) Marvel Entertainment – Fair Use

Over at The Philosophical Fighter, Joshua Clements has posted a thought-provoking piece on teaching martial arts. However, his observations also apply to coaching and even classroom teaching.

Clements uses the metaphor of the golem to make his argument that teachers play a vital role in shaping students. In Hebrew folklore, the golem was a creature formed from clay, given life and purpose by its creator, normally a rabbi. Like a rabbi, a teacher imparts much more than rote knowledge to his students. As Clements puts it:

“As teachers and coaches, we also have the opportunity to sow truth and life into our students. We help inscribe emet [Truth] on their minds while simultaneously breathing life into their dreams, their passions, and their growth.”

The golem myth reflects the Genesis account of the creation of Adam, who was also formed from clay. That same myth inspired one of the most complex and beloved Marvel Comics characters, Benjamin J. Grimm, aka, The Thing, whose powerful body appeared to be made of rocks.

As Thing, Benjamin J. Grimm often clashed with the serious, logical Reed Richards (aka, Mr. Fantastic). In contrast to Richards, Thing was emotional, a little crude at times, and haunted by guilt and self-loathing. While Richards the scientist approached problems objectively and dispassionately, Thing was ready to clobber them. Fans often sided with Thing, the down-to-earth (!) everyman, against Richards, the highbrow academic.

The inevitable conflicts among the team sparked some memorable stories. Their personalities reflected one of the four classical elements they represented: Air (Invisible Girl), Fire (Human Torch), Water (Mr. Fantastic), and Earth (Thing). Despite their dissimilar temperaments, they managed to unite and overcome their challenges.

Yet another lesson we can learn from the golem.

Better than Spock

“I feel that if we were a Spock-like species — you know, if we came from the planet of Vulcan and we only did those things that made logical sense, I feel that we would not have prevailed. It is only by virtue of our capacity to allow our minds to freely roam the landscape of imaginative possibility that we are able to innovate in the ways that we have.”

Brian Greene,  professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University

Hexagon Year One Anthology

Hexagon Anthology

Now this is an unexpected surprise. The Year One Anthology for Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine features all 20 pieces from Hexagon’s successful and groundbreaking first year. There are bonus pieces as well, such as author interviews and new cover concept art.

The anthology includes my flash fiction story Mirrors, which was published in the magazine’s premiere issue. I wrote it after re-reading Dr. Lewis Thomas’ book, The Lives of a Cell, which made me realize how an alien species would marvel at how cooperative humans are despite our aggressive tendencies. I was pleased at Didi Oviatt’s review: “Tuggle’s story of an insight about predatory creatures is a thought-provoking read.”

You’ll find the thought-provoking, the beautiful, and the sublime in the Hexagon Year One Anthology.

Writers On Good Manners

Robert Heinlein
Robert Heinlein

I’ve been pondering the deterioration of public discourse. The occasion of Robert Heinlein’s birthday brings to mind this quote:

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Which reminds me of this:

“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”

― Robert E. Howard