Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam by Carl Boese & Paul Wegener (1920)
A short article today, in order to link four narratives (coming from science fiction or not) which shares a common link in which they express the power of the word or/and the sound.
The first one is the myth of the Golem (which much later inspired Mary Shelley to write her Frankenstein), this creature who, from a model of clay became alive when his creator, Rabbi Loew inscribed the word Emet (reality in Hebrew) on his face. When later, the Golem went berserk, Loew simply erased the first letter of the word and thus killed him (Met means death). This episode is illustrative of the Kaballah, this branch of Judaism that dedicates all its efforts to the research of God through the esoteric holy scriptures and their mathematics.
Battle of Jericho by Jean Fouquet (15th century)
The second narrative is the battle of Jericho as described in the Bible. As I recalled in an old article, after the exodus in Egypt the Israelites took back the fortified city of Jericho by making its walls fall thanks to the sound of trumpets. In this regard, you can listen to the radio broadcast that Radiolab (NPR) dedicated to this biblical episode and questioned it in a scientific manner.
The third example can be found in Dune written by Frank Herbert published in 1965 and adapted in a film twenty years later by David Lynch. The weirding way described by Herbert and Lynch is a technique of combat that allows oneself to canalize the body’s energy and to express it in the sound of a word. The word thus becomes literally destructive and the Fremen army can be assimilated to a choir whose voices provokes the death of their opponent.
I have been writing about the fourth narrative before in an article that I entitled The Declamatory Porcelain Architectures of Serge Brussolo. In fact, in Aussi Lourd que le Vent, French science fiction author Serge Brussolo dramatizes the materialization of porcelain monumental volumes when the main character screams words. The main paradox is that those evanescent porcelain architectures are as beautiful as the word pronounced is vulgar, making their creation process appear as a litany of bad words and insults.
There are probably many other narratives that could join this article and I invite whoever thinks of one to write it in the comments…