Etymologically, the word golem means “shapeless mass” and signifies a body without a soul. It is believed that in order to awaken the golem one must construct a body out of clay and then write the Hebrew word “emet” (meaning truth) on his forehead. In order to deactivate the golem one would erase the “e,” or aleph, leaving “met,” which means death. Once the golem was “born” they would perform certain tasks often to protect Jews from the Blood Libel. Since they are built incredibly strong they would often provide some form of physical labor. The golem is the response to anti-Semitism and threats of terror.
Although the golem is considered a body without a soul, his presence within the Jewish community seems to have protected them from those who see them in a similar light. Jews invented this giant creature as a defensive response to the offensive invention of the blood libel, which only promoted real violence towards the other (Jews) in response to the imagined violence believed to have been inflicted on them. This is why turning the Jew into the source of terror, the monster, can be highly problematic as it too can be used as an excuse for violence. The body without a soul can also function as a metaphor for that which has been captured in the sense that both funnel out all the being’s internal organs and complex nature of its own.
Above is a photograph of the statue of the golem in Prague. How does commemorating and memorializing the past function as a process of capture? How do statues particularly act as apparatus of capture? What is the difference between a statue and a ghost? A golem and a ghost?