A kinship that transcends time and culture

I’ve been doing a deep dive into the lives of the young Mary and Percy Shelley and their contemporaries. It’s all part of preparation for our forthcoming immersive VR theater piece about Mary Shelley’s creation of Frankenstein.

One outcome of that research has been a growing awareness that young intellectuals from 1816 were really no different from young intellectuals of today. Being in one’s late teens or early twenties, while being a wicked smart rebel, pretty much remains the same experience down through the ages.

Finding myself face to face with this knowledge has been giving me existential shivers. It has forced me to confront the strange alternate timeline of subjective human existence.

On the one hand there is the linear timeline that we all learn in history class. On the other hand there is the strange and inexplicable parallel timeline of each individual’s journey through life — from childhood through adolescence and beyond.

However old we may be in any given year, each one of us is bound up with all the other humans who have ever been — or ever will be — the same age that we are now. It is a kinship that transcends time and culture, and there is something about it that is ineffably beautiful.

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