A golem is a man of clay brought to life through the power of the word – the written word. Of all the legends and stories of golems, perhaps the most famous is the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem of Prague. Rabbi Loew, as the story goes, in the 16th century during the reign of Rudolph II, in Prague using secret practices from the kabbalah, brought to life a clay man to defend against anti-Semitic attacks. This story has resonated for generations and has been retold many times in a variety of media. What truths are there in this story, how did this Golem come to be?
Tonight’s talk will look into the mystical practices of Judaism that are at the heart of the legends. We’ll see how this story evolved over time, through a telling of the earliest legends and, to understand the enduring nature of the story, we’ll screen clips from Paul Wegener’s 1920 film The Golem; Duvivier’s 1936 Le Golem filmed in Prague and in the Altneu synagogue; and clips from Loss of Sensation R.U.R a 1936 Soviet film based on Karel Čapek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots, essentially class war with robots.
And perhaps, as well, see what we can learn from these tales in this time of robotics, drones, and artificial intelligence.
Brian Cotnoir is an alchemist, artist and award-winning filmmaker. Author of The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy, The Emerald Tablet, a series of Alchemy 'Zines, and his latest Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter published 2017 by Khepri Press. He has presented seminars and workshops around the world on various aspects of alchemy.