Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is what I believe.

This seemed like an important day to post this.

I know this is going to seem silly to some of you and like too much information for others, so bear with me. I'm not trying to tell you what to do or how to think, I'm just telling you about myself.

Whether you've known it or noticed or not, I'll tell you that I've been going through some "stuff" lately.
And to be honest, there are times when it seems that my entire life has just been a series of "going through some stuff" moments.
The details aren't really important, and the full extent of these "moments" are unknown to even those closest to me.
There have been times when these "moments", or what amounts to the "contents" of my life, have left me with a kind of sadness that I would not wish on anyone.


I have always found my way out of those times, and I am very thankful for that.

More than anything else, there has been one constant in my life, that, in my expert opinion (as I am the world's foremost expert on myself), has instilled in me an unshakable belief that no matter how dark it is or how bad things seem, there is always a way.
That there is always hope.

For my 28 years, that constant has been Superman.

I've tried, ultimately in vain, for years and years to explain what it all means to me. Not just what the character or idea of Superman means, but what he represents to me.

It hasn't been until these last few months that I've really started to understand what I'd previously only felt.
This is due in large part to the work and words of the first person I've ever heard who I feel like understands exactly where I've been coming from all these years.

I've basically pulled the most personally important (to me) quotes from Grant Morrison's recent interviews with Newsarama and strung them together in the way that I feel my brain has retained and latched onto them. (All bold emphasis is mine, not necessarily Grant's.)
I hope you'll take the few minutes to read it.
Last time for a while, I promise..

I see Superman in this series as an Enlightenment figure, a Renaissance idea of the ideal man, perfect in mind, body and intention.

...if we live by imitation, does it not make sense that we might choose to imitate the angels, the gods, the very highest form of being that we can imagine ? Instead of indulging the most brutish, vicious, greedy and ignorant aspects of the human experience, we can, with a little applied effort, elevate the better part of our natures and work to express those elements through our behavior. To do so would probably make us all feel a whole lot better too. Doing good deeds and making other people happy makes you feel totally brilliant, let’s face it.

So we can choose to be the astronaut or the gangster. The superhero or the super villain. The angel or the devil. It’s entirely up to us, particularly in the privileged West, how we choose to imagine ourselves and conduct our lives.

My own work has been an ongoing attempt to repeat the magic word over and over until we all become the kind of superheroes we’d all like to be.

It’s a pretty high–level attempt by some smart people to do the Superman concept some justice, is all I can say. It’s intended to work as a set of sci–fi fables that can be read by children and adults alike. I’d like to think you can go to it if you’re feeling suicidal, if you miss your dad, if you’ve had to take care of a difficult, ailing relative, if you’ve ever lost control and needed a good friend to put you straight, if you love your pets, if you wish your partner could see the real you...All Star is about how Superman deals with all of that.

In today’s world, in today’s media climate designed to foster the fear our leaders like us to feel because it makes us easier to push around. In a world where limp, wimpy men are forced to talk tough and act ‘badass’ even though we all know they’re shitting it inside. In a world where the measure of our moral strength has come to lie in the extremity of the images we’re able to look at and stomach. In a world, I’m reliably told, that’s going to the dogs, the real mischief, the real punk rock rebellion, is a snarling, ‘fuck you’ positivity and optimism. Violent optimism in the face of all evidence to the contrary is the Alpha form of outrage these days.

I have a desire not to see my culture and my fellow human beings fall helplessly into step with a middle class media narrative that promises only planetary catastrophe, as engineered by an intrinsically evil and corrupt species which, in fact, deserves everything it gets.

Is this relentless, downbeat insistence that the future has been cancelled really the best we can come up with? Are we so fucked up we get off on terrifying our children? It’s not funny or ironic anymore and that’s why we wrote All Star Superman the way we did.

What I hope is that people take from it the unlikelihood that a piece of paper, with little ink drawings of figures, with little written words, can make you cry, can make your heart soar, can make you scared, sad, or thrilled.

That piece of paper is inert material, the corpse of some tree, pulped and poured, then given new meaning and new life when the real hours and real emotions that the writer and the artist, the colourist, the letter the editor translated onto the physical page, meet with the real hours and emotions of a reader, of all readers at once, across time, generations and distance.

And think about how that experience, the simple experience of interacting with a paper comic book, along with hundreds of thousands of others across time and space, is an actual doorway onto the beating heart of the imminent, timeless world of “Myth” as defined above. Not just a drawing of it but an actual doorway into timelessness and the immortal world where we are all one together.

My grief over the loss of my dad can be Superman’s grief, can trigger your own grief, for your own dad, for all our dads. The timeless grief that’s felt by Muslims and Christians and Agnostics alike. My personal moments of great and romantic love, untainted by the everyday, can become Superman’s and may resonate with your own experience of these simple human feelings.

In the one Mythic moment we’re all united, kissing our Lover for the First time, the Last time, the Only time, honouring our dear Dad under a blood red sky, against a darkening backdrop, with Mum telling us it’ll all be okay in the end.

This is what I believe in.
And that's why I voted for Barack Obama.
Because I believe in Superman, and because I believe in him..
I believe in myself.
I believe in hope.
I believe that we can be the people we've been waiting for.
I believe that if we're willing to, that every one of us can make a difference.


Bob Fries III said...

Right on.
I could not agree more.
Without hope, what do we have?

april said...

yes, yes, yes. i am so proud of humanity today. this entry made me cry :)