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Freedom is Situated

To say that this freedom is "situated" is to acknowledge that we're all born into a world already brimming with buildings, ideology, poems, commerce, dental hygienists, mythology, bacteria, and hats."

I finished Batman and Philosophy but don't feel clever enough to write about it. It did turn out to be more of a book about Batman than a book about philosophy, but I'm not disappointed. Even though I meant it as a joke, my favorite chapters really did turn out to the be the ones comparing Batman and Superman.

Think about it like this: Superman is a demigod trying to earn people's trust. As such, in his dealings with the public, he has to downplay his distance from them. Therefore, he acts like the Boy Scout, and everyone (with a few notable exceptions) loves him. Batman, on the other hand, is an ordinary human trying to do extraordinary things. He has to create a myth around himself that serves as part of his armor. ... Batman must likewise distance himself from the citizens he protects. It's not enough for criminals to find Batman mysterious -- everyone has to, or the jig is up. Naturally, this creates a lonely, isolated life that is in large part self-imposed.

They had chapters on who is better and on how each of them views friendship (Superman along Aristotelian lines and Batman more like Nietzsche). There was a great argument that Batman is the better "superhero" because he knowingly puts himself into danger and potential death with every deed whereas Superman goes into things knowing he is impervious and unlikely to die; therefore, Batman exhibits greater bravery, and bravery is "superhero trait."

Furthermore, Superman can depend too much on his powers and not on ingenuity. He can underestimate people because he is so much more powerful than others, and he never uses all his strength or abilities against someone because he would do more damage than needed. (My bad summary.) Anyway, the point is Superman would hold back and Batman would not. Also, Superman wouldn't want to hurt a friend, but Batman could (they say). Consequently, in a fight Batman would win. This amused me, because I know people can come to blows over this type of Hero1 versus Hero2 discussions.

There was also a neat Tao-esque chapter discussing, among other things, the effect of Batman's shadow. As Lao-Tzu wrote, "The use of the pot is precisely where there is nothing. When you open doors or windows for a room, it is where there is nothing that they are most useful to the room." Nothingness can be more important than substance, which Bruce uses to "strike fear into the hearts of criminals," as he likes to say (endlessly, I'm afraid).

Comments

madladyred
Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
symbolic in the 30s perhaps, just fruity now!

I'm reading a bunch of Flash comic books from the 1950's and being awed by how much things have changed since they were written. My initial reaction was amusement at the datedness, but after 300 pages I'm starting to get used to it. What *is* still bothering me is his girlfriend Iris. She keeps mocking Barry Allen as a slowpoke and saying how wonderful the Flash is. If I were the Barry i would man up and dump her! LOL! :)

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