Skip to main content

Golem and a Little Girl

Article in the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM

Helene Wecker

I know a woman, a very deluded woman, who believes in the natural wisdom of children. To her, they are oracles who speak and act in holy innocence, free of the failures that accrue to us like clay as we grow older, the acclimatizations and indoctrinations, equivocations and cynicisms. Our children could repair the entire world, she says, if only we would let them, if only we would listen. She says this as, through the open window, we can hear the shrieks of her own boy and girl, the latest skirmish in their war.

We're afraid for our children, of course. We worry that this time, in this generation, we really have gone too far: The monsters we've created will run amok at last, loose among the children. So we create stories in which the innocence of children, their blamelessness, is their saving grace. Once upon a time we pitted them against slavering wolves in spinsters' dresses, and crooked witches with empty cauldrons. Then we wrote tales in which they had to escape the earth itself, after we, their guilty forerunners, transformed it and bent it to our will, with only the best of intentions.

I know why we tell these stories. They have power to give us solace, and even plan a way forward. But sometimes escapism can shade into self-delusion, a moral failure to tell the truth. The monsters we have built will not be toppled by innocence. I look at my own children, and I pray that they will fight the monsters and win. But I also wonder about the monsters that they themselves will create in the attempt.

Helene Wecker is an US-American writer. She worked for advertising and communication agencies before deciding to study creative writing at the Columbia University. Her first novel, The Golem and The Jinni, was published in 2013. Its sequel is scheduled for 2018.

Filmstill from the movie The Golem, How He Came Into the World by Paul Wegener: girl in front of the golem

The Golem, How He Came into the World (Filmstill)
Directed by Paul Wegener/Carl Boese
Written by Paul Wegener/Henrik Galeen, Germany, 1920
Photograph, 10 x 8 cm
Deutsches Filminstitut Frankfurt a.M./ Nachlass Paul Wegener - Sammlung Kai Möller

Citation recommendation:

Helene Wecker (2016), Golem and a Little Girl. Article in the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM.
URL: www.jmberlin.de/en/node/4701

Share, Newsletter, Feedback