Thursday, November 5, 2009
Up, Up and Away
You’ll not think me a very nice person for admitting this, but if I were Superman, the first thing I’d probably do is destroy the world – or at least every trace of the human heart.
Do I have issues?
Oh, I suppose I have a few.
But, look, it’s not actually about the people, you realize, not at all – it’s more about Superman.
I mean, who the hell is Superman?
Who but a mad man would acquiesce to having his identity so completely erased, masquerading as human – super or not?
Who else but an orphan shot into a cornfield, raised by two aging aliens – half his life having become an act of timidity – the other a universal power trip.
Superman knows his heritage very well, after all – what else is he doing in that cathedral of ice – other than surfing the Kryptonian internet his father left him, fixating on images of his world crumbling down – like some 9/11 junkie?
What else could he possibly have to dwell upon so resolutely – that sleep would come as no release?
Of course, I’m presuming a Superman sleeps likes the rest of us – an Ambien rooster pecking at his bedcover.
For all I know, he might spend the night watching the heavens through his ceiling, focusing in on distant worlds, people watching in distant galaxies, looking for bad things to happen – Jimmy Stewart poised restlessly at his interstellar rear window.
So, you see, I can only but conclude that he is well aware of what he is doing in swearing to protect his adopted race from itself – a chore surely topping the to-do list of any atmosphere-crazed Florence Nightingale.
Ignore what the sun has done to Superman’s physical strength, his immune system, his speed, his vision, his hearing, his sense of taste and smell (one must suppose) – what I want to know is what has it done to his mind? His conscience? His nerves?
Madness is both the super hero mythos and its ethos, especially when fashioned by those with a psyche torn in two, their hearts as flat as paper dolls – the grinning, square-jawed mannequins – the jovial supermen and wonder women of the four-color printery – heading to the office each day under an assumed name, complete with the knowledge that a circus costume waits in some secret covey, an out-sized ego they will hurry themselves into – before leaping or flying through the nearest exit – racing across rooftop and sky in their lunatic clothes, announcing themselves officer and savior, displaying their genitals in pronounced glory – porn stars and stunt men all – dipped in the bright colors of emblem and flag.
The short capes, the cuffed boots, the masks – it all seems so much more suitable for some precocious child on a Victorian stage – a fey jubilee sprite lingering before Lewis Carroll’s camera – than for an adult with an obsessive-compulsive need to be of assistance to others – to right perceived wrongs, to follow the highly subjective decrees of nationhood – battling for truth and justice and liberty – notions one and all – notions men in costume have died for since civilization began – the insanity of the ages in bloody evidence.
Superman, as king of these people, is surely the maddest of all.
That is why, if I were he, I would destroy the world.
If I were Superman – if tomorrow I awoke to hear every mouse leaving its hole, every cheese being sliced, every rattrap coming down – I’d be inundated with sensory input – frozen – Clark Kent standing naked before the mirror.
Don’t tell me I could selectively channel what I wanted to hear, for wouldn’t that mean I was missing some grave injustice, some clarion call of “evil”?
I would linger in my vaudevillian bachelorhood, a victim of super-paranoia, crushed by the mantle of Godhood bestowed upon me.
I mean, seriously – how would I ever get my job done? Let alone save the world?
In order to spare my sanity, there is only one thing I could do.
I’d have to destroy every man, woman, and child – lest I be kept forever glued to my station, inert within my superior state, useless to anyone but myself – Speedy Alka-Seltzer on a treadmill, Mr. Clean in a darkened room.
And, yes, I realize that’s paradoxical, that after the horrifying carnage I’d be left all alone, no one to serve, the sole agent of life on a devastated planet, biding my time, expending extravagant energies born of the yellow sun – mourning my dead parents and their dead world.
But, really, what choice would I have?
Even a “super-conscience” wouldn’t spare me from a planet’s worth of guilt.
I’d be more Atlas than Kal-El – burdened by my deed – the self-serving culling of a species having set the weight of a world upon my back
There is, of course, one other option.
I could spare everyone my troubles – by simply leaving the Earth.
Now wouldn’t that make me a truly super man?