Saturday, August 10, 2013

Multiplicity

The quality or state of being multiple or various.

This word is one reason I love stories. They allow me to be multiple characters. Because when I am reading, I am part of a completely new, different world.

It is also why I love superhero stories.

Yes, they are mostly about the good winning over the bad. And just the idea of having superhero swooping in to always save the day, can be very comforting. Also, the larger than life aspect that those comics have works very well as an escape.

What personally intrigues me about superheroes is the idea of hiding who you truly are. Batman/Bruce Wayne, Superman/Clark Kent, Spiderman/Peter Parker and lots of others. They all hide their true identities. There is one major aspect of protecting who they love. There is also the idea that a mask or an a superhero identity allows the villains to fear you, adds to the personality of the hero. But I think it also has to do with protect themselves. To hide behind the mask, the identity, is an escape for the hero too. They have their moments of doubt and their conflicts, but in the end it comes down to acting, throughout.

And this is where I identify most with the superhero idea. No, it isn't some inspirational thing about how we are all capable of more than we know. What I mean is that we are all constantly hiding. Perpetually tucking away parts of us that peek out unexpectedly. We don't have the superheroes' identities or powers, but we do have their masks. We put on facades and play roles every single day. We have a work face when in the office. The family face for home, the agony aunt for one group of friends. The face for the one are romantically involved with so that they continue to find us interesting. The oh yes, I am a fun person face for the other group of friends. The intellectual act. The listener for your best friends. So many different faces. So many different masks. Every single day. Every single minute.

So when Shakespeare talked about the world being a stage and all men and women merely being players, this is what I think he was talking about. Where life itself is a stage, and we play the characters in our own stories.

All of it is extremely tiring though. The superheroes do it for a noble reason. We, for an entirely selfish one. Self preservation. Survival. That's why we hide so much. Leaving ourselves vulnerable leaves us open to pain and betrayal. It opens us to judgement.

And then this whole charade begs the question, is anything in our lives true? Is love true? Or is it just a mask loving another mask? Is hate true? A character playing off another character. Envy, anger, jealousy, empathy, sympathy. All of it. Isn't all of it an illusion of truth?

This is why I love superhero comics. They have so many layers. So much to offer beneath the bluster and action and sometimes fantastic storylines. Well-constructed make you think. There is so much to find.

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