Saturday, March 11, 2006

truth, justice and the American way...

Watching those old episodes of George Reeves' 50's television Superman gave me an intense longing for something that I wasn't sure what it was.

I don't think I ever thought I was Superman. I was too weak, too aware of the many ways in which I couldn't fly, I wasn't as powerful as a locomotive and couldn't leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was shy and slow and very afraid of standing out. But it was part of my dream. One evening my dad came in to tell me that Superman was dead. He seemed to relish the news and find it very funny. I said, how could Superman be dead? Bullets bounce off his chest, he can walk through walls and change the course of mighty rivers. He killed himself, my dad said. Then I was confronted perhaps with the first intimation of .. perhaps not mortality, which normally would not exist in any meaningful sense in the mind of a six year old, but of the world being wrong. Of our heroes being fallible people, as full of weaknesses and contradictions as ourselves. Of the world itself being made wrong, unfair, based on the dialectic of the survival of the fittest, of my own dysfunctional family in the periphery of the Western world, what 'truth and justice and the American way' really meant for us out there in the wider world... all that would be in the future, but perhaps the first tear of the curtain may have been that night when I was 6, with my dad reading out an evening paper headline about some b-movie actor in California killing himself.

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