Thursday, August 2, 2007

Reflections: Heroes


The contemporary cinematic and video game fixation on comic book Super Heroes seems to me to be symptomatic of a subconscious, global hunger for the real thing. In the frailty of our fleeting, often isolated, existences, we desperately wish for a Superman – a force for Good--out there somewhere--ready to swoop down and apply his perfect and inevitable justice against any and all evils which threaten to render our anxiety-prone lives as terrible as we fear they may one day become. It is these Super Heroes—these dumbed-down, mass-produced avatars of Nietzsche’s Übermensch —which prove how far out of touch with the Transcendent our culture has become. Our hiding of our herky-jerky eyes behind the fantastic reality of a comic book, or in the pixilated virtual depths of a video screen, is symptomatic of our inability to place our faith in either real human heroes, with their Achilles’ heels, feet of clay, and fatal tragic flaws--or in Eternity. We are able to love neither Fate, nor Father.

You may have guessed that I am not a fan of comic books. And I haven’t seen even one of the Batman flicks. Not even the nearly nude body of Angelina Jolie can lure me into a theater where my head will be overwhelmed by a soul-numbing mixture of too loud sound, too fast quick-cut editing, and too little real meaning. I can’t humble myself before an ersatz god. Have a blast, but deal me out.

So I have no heroes today, whether tragically flawed, but human--or super. I am as afflicted as the next guy by existential nausea. But as a younger person, and not yet so thoroughly acquainted with the frailties that the flesh is heir to, there were three men who, I must admit, each served a stint as hero in my life. In the next few days, I will briefly expound on each of them.