Where’s Adam?

In Rose Piper’s Eve and the Serpent, she’s managed to construct an interesting adaptation and one that was entirely new to me. While the main theme presented in her painting was immediately and easily identifiable I feel that it’s noteworthy that she’s incorporated more elements than adaptation alone. She’s utilized intertextuality in the title of her painting to include Dem Bones (Gonna Rise Again), an old African-American Spiritual song; Dem Bones tells the story of Adam and Eve. By incorporating the song and the story of Adam and Eve she’s essentially created a visual bricolage, melding the original story and an adaptation of it together, creating her own adaptation in the process. Interestingly Piper chose to paint her adaptation minus Adam. With Adam being a central figure to the story I found it a curious decision, at first.

Then I stopped to consider who Rose Piper was. She was an African American woman that was born in 1917 and grew up in the Bronx, NY and drew upon influences from blues music in the 1940s and ’50s, during which time she painted some of her most notable works; Ackland has one such piece in circulation titled Slow Down, Freight Train. So it appears that Piper frequently drew upon music as the inspiration for her paintings.  It might be assumed that as a woman and an African American woman growing up before & during segregation,  and civil rights & women’s liberation movements, she felt marginalized.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason that she chose only to depict Eve and selected elements of Dem Bones to highlight some social issues that she had to deal with. In this way, her painting, Eve and the Serpent could almost be considered a parody as well. Piper seems to have masterfully taken multiple elements & sources and blended them together to create a truly unique adaptation to the story of Adam and Eve.

I think that the way in which Piper has chosen to incorporate the tree, snake and Eve into her painting and how she has portrayed the snake, in particular, is an interesting and refreshing adaptation on a story many know so well.

Frankenstein: A Film Adaptation for the Modern Day

Mary Shelly’s immortal Frankenstein deserves a modern-day adaptation that brings her story into the 21st century and introduces it to an entirely new generation of viewers. While there have been numerous film adaptations to date, they generally have fallen upon mixed reviews, to be generous. Diluting the story and themes, as in 2014’s, iFrankenstein; Victor’s Monster has inconceivably become some type of action hero. Therefore, I purpose that we embark upon a film adaptation set in the modern day, taking into account modern-day social/societal dynamics & challenges, politics, technology, burgeoning innovations and ethics. With so many themes that can be expanded upon from a new adaptation, there would be more than enough content to develop multiple films.

I have made an attempt to draw upon Shelly’s original works in an attempt to identify some of the key structure of her story that can be easily adapted to captivate audiences of today.

For starters, who is to say that a modern day Frankenstein needs to be constrained by Victor’s monster and its’ physical characteristics so extensively and nauseatingly repeated over and over in film adaptations (E.g. the patchwork of body parts, grotesque appearance, lumbering physical characteristics, etc.)? Instead, the focuses should be on current attempts to develop AI and human collaborations. utilizing robotic limbs and lab-grown/manufactured organs, anatomical components. Think actorLogan Marshall – Green’s Grey Trace in the recent film Upgrade or 2014 remake, Robo Cop’s Alex Murphy, both have undergone some type of metamorphosis and become new characters.

In Shelly’s novel Robert Walton, who takes up Victor Frankenstein’s quest to find and kill the monster but never does, remarks on how nothing is impossible in their current age, how knowledge and progress are inherently good.

This theme that knowledge and progress are inherently good allows for an intertextual representation of Frankenstein. A new film adaptation should not feel constrained to the physical construction of a monster, a story set forth in modern day could and should explore current philosophical debates that connect consciousness and AI and the increasing connection between man and machine.

Furthermore, where Shelly chooses to focus on the impact that the monster has on Victor and those he loves, a modern-day adaptation should focus on the impact that the introduction of a modern day monster has on the world that it has been introduced to. Tackling philosophical issues like what constitutes a human being, what differentiates AI from human thought, and at what point does a machine become human and human become a machine.

There is also another avenue that could be approached one in which the application of real-time theories and current scientific research is used to develop a monster that is far more plausible than Shelly’s original and far closer to the horizon then the story than 2015’s Ex Machina.

I suggest drawing upon current events such as the recent news of Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan and his team, reanimating pigs’ brains. Sestan managed to pump the brains with artificial blood using a system called BrainEx, and they were able to bring them back to life for up to 36 hours (Curtis, 2018). Basing an adaptation upon real-time science and event would add to the believability. I would also suggest that the new film is shot documentary style so as to add to the realism, a la The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield.

By creating an adaptation that focuses on these key points a new film would captivate and provoke thought for an entirely new audience.


Curtis, B. (2018). Scientists reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/scientists-reanimate-disembodied-pigs-brains-but-for-a-human-mind-it-could-be-a-living-hell-95903

Friday, a Complex and Complete Character

Friday doesn’t need help, in reality, he’s a more complete and complex character in both Robinson Crusoe and Foe than any other character. Even as Daniel DeFoe and J.M. Coetzee create the illusion that they white European heroes in each of the stories know better than Friday and that their stories are more compelling than his, it can be argued, neither stories protagonists know best;  in spite of the rampant white savior complex and promotion of colonization ideology.

In Defoe’s writing, we see how Robinson Crusoe tries to impose his beliefs and views upon Friday. For instance, when he attempts to teach Friday English instead of learning Friday’s language, it never occurs to him, it may have been easier and more efficient to learn Friday’s language. Crusoe relies heavily upon Friday, much more than Friday relies upon him. Due in part to Cursoe having saved Friday, that act puts him in a position, in his mind, that his decisions and beliefs carry more weight than Friday’s. Crusoe has laid claim to the island and is gracious enough to let allow Friday to live under his guidance. Undoubtedly, Cursoe views himself as a benevolent leader who has improved Friday’s existence from the moment he rescued him. Afterall no longer was Friday running for his life about to become the other savages’ meal and Cursoe had fed him, clothed him and taught him English. Comparatively, the British and most other European countries of the period, likely felt the same way about the colonies and the indigenous populations that they assumed control over.

Even Coetzee’s Foe paints an illustration of Friday as a bit character, always in need of shepherding. Friday’s inability to speak prevents him from being an active participant in the story and he’s relegated to being at the mercy of Curso and Susan’s plans/actions. Cruso declares that “perhaps they wanted to prevent him [Friday] from ever telling his story, who he was, where his home lay, how it came about that he was taken” (Coetzee, pg. 23). By this measure Cursoe has decided that this is Friday’s reality. Susan continues this pattern when she assumes that she’s interpreting Friday’s needs and desires and that what she’s doing is best for him when she decides to send him back to Africa. Susan feels that she is looking out for Friday. She goes so far as to say the “Friday has grown to be my shadow” (Coetzee, p. 115), further implying that it’s Friday that need her help.

On the surface, both of Defoe’s and Coetzee’s stories depict a character in Friday that needs to be saved, but there is ample evidence that would suggest that Friday is far from in need of assistance, after all neither Cursoe or Susan kill a bear as Friday does in Defoe’s novel. Furthermore, Friday can be viewed as a more complex and vibrant character than the protagonists in either story. We witness first hand the joy and range of emotions that he has when he’s reunited with his father in Defoe’s story while that story’s Crusoe never comes close to experiencing any type of emotional connection or bond with his own family. We also, read of Friday’s expressiveness when he dons the robe and dances infront of Susan, tranforming from a flat character into a three dimensional one.

Foe’s Friday further cements his characters depth as he dances despite everything he has endured, in such a manner that we never witness Susan or any other character in Foe, able to enjoy moments in perspective.