Because the universe is an arbitrarily random and unforgiving place and the sooner you accept that you will never achieve any sort of happiness, the sooner you can get on with dying.
Well, that's one reason. I expect it probably has something to do with entropy. So I've been off doing other things for a while. One of which was revamping the anime society and massively increasing its membership, with some not inconsiderable help from Chloe, Steve and Ozzy. You people rock. One other thing I've been doing is waiting for a t-shirt (those of you who say that my life, or at least my blog, seems to revolve around t-shirts are probably right in a depressing fashion) from a website. I've been waiting since the day before the SUCS beach party 2007 (that was back in June for those out of the loop). I got bored of waiting and would recommend that nobody here ever use the useless site that is tshirtsville.com At least they managed to refund my money fairly promptly when I finally gave up. I was willing to accept a bit of a delay because I knew they'd have to get stock in from overseas, but to string me along for several months just isn't acceptable.
What else? Er, the term has started, which is nice. I've been not at all enthralled by my Writing in Professional Contexts module as of yet, but I live in hope that what is basic grammar will turn into something more relevant to, you know, actually writing in professional contexts... The other module is Angela Carter which I chose because, although I hadn't actually read any of her work, I knew she had inspired the brilliant Sarah Waters. The tutor is not one I know very well either, but she seems to be almost on the verge of obsession with Carter which can only be a good thing. Things I have learned from Carter already: It is possible to have 3 well-fleshed out female characters and 2 high-quality male characters in a book of less than 200 pages; Jesus was a bastard and God is the ultimate voyeur and finally it is possible to have your female characters raped and still be a feminist writer.
Whodathunkit? Not I. I should also mention the absurd level of kindness bestowed on me by the wonderful Kate with her tolerance for my everything and the most incredible gift she gave me of her heart. "I love my love with a K because her name is Kate and she is so very, very kind." Carter couldn't have put it better herself.
This one has been a long time coming and I think will take a bit of introduction, fortunately I have the e-mail I sent to my uncle that I think will explain it all (edited bits done by me in square brackets ():
"Before I get to the random favour of this e-mail's title, let me give you a bit of backstory, so you can appreciate what this means.
It all started when I went into Topman (British purveyor of stylish and fashionable clothing). Actually, that's not quite true. It all started when I was walking around the university's campus [specifically next to Level 2] and saw an advert with a blue and black longsleeved stripey top. I thought "that looks nifty." and thought no more of it. Sometime later, I went into Topman and found said t-shirt on sale for cheap I bought it and was very, very happy. [you've probably seen me wearing this, usually with another t-shirt on top of it]
I then started talking to my girlfriend [the lovely Kate] about other stripey tops I should buy/own. Blue, we agreed, looked good. Purple would look even better. Then began our hunt for a longsleeved, purple and black stripey top. The stripey thing is apparently extremely fashionable here at the moment and it seems possibe to get things in nearly any combination of two colours. Save, you might have guessed, purple and black. We looked everywhere in shops it might have appeared. And everywhere in shops it might not have done. Alternative clothing stores across the internet were scoured for weeks in an attempt to find a suitable item. Nothing, nada and zilch were the results of our efforts.
We even went into a local fabric store, boasting "the largest selection of cloths in South Wales". No joy there either. Nor in any of their catalogues. Eventually, we resolved that the cost of buying a stripey top from across the wide, wide ocean would be offset by the strength of the pound at the moment. We looked further afield, searched more sites until, finally today, there was success! I assure you that this meant a lot to us, anything we had found previously that was purple and stripey was tailored for women and therefore somewhat unsuitable. This is, I am almost certain, the only longsleeved purple and black stripey top designed for men that exists in the world today:
So you'd think that would be a happy ending right there, wouldn't you? Not so, I am sad to say. They only ship to the United States. And they probably won't accept payment from my credit card either."
So I asked him to buy it and ship it to me and I would then pay him back and he did and I did and everyone was very, very happy. Especially me when my top arrived. This is me barely containing my excitement at my acquisition: http://www.sucs.org/~wedge/PurpleStripey.JPG
So now you know what it is to have a quest (I first bought the blue and black top back in December sometime) and the joys of completing it. Never let anyone tell you life isn't enough like a video game. :)
Also, if I lived in or near Jersey (possibly on a fishing boat or poorly-positioned oilrig), I'd love to visit http://www.haveaday.co.uk and find out about nifty stuff for me to do. Can't wait for term to restart and to get on with more learning.
Desperately poor paraphrasing from! Monkey Island = hooray! For anyone curious (i.e. just me, because nobody who reads this will actually get the reference), no they aren't Gwynn's monkeys (Gwynn is actually an awesome name, I just realised.)
I've been busy recently, flitting from London to Swansea to Somerset to all over the place recently. Has been very tricky to keep track or even relax properly. There's a part of me that's convinced that everything would be easier if it were just term time again already and I didn't have to worry about all my various concerns tearing me in lots of different directions over the holidays. Apologies if I wanted to see you this summer and things just failed to come together for whatever reason. Stuff is tricky is all.
On one hand, I want to write all about the various fun things I've been doing over the last seven weeks, but on the other, I've really been too busy actually living life to document lots of them and I'm sure there's a lot I'd simply forget as a result. I guess the most important thing is that I'm about to graduate. Feels strange. And not very real, almost. Maybe after the ceremony's over, I'll come to terms with things a little more. And I can't wait for all the excitement and fun that the next academic year will bring. As for after that, who knows? I'll try and keep all you people in the wide world of the internet well posted (no pun intended). See you on the flip side.
Ah, good old the 'Random' category, it's saved me from pain and suffering many a time. Niftily. Well, I'm kinda done with university for the time being. For anyone who was unaware, I'm not leaving and will be here next year doing an MA in English. Should be awesome.
Towards the end of things, I was getting a little bored with having to go to lectures week after week, but I still enjoyed the seminars which is a good sign because I've got plenty more of those next year, hopefully with people who are as enthusiastic about the subjects being discussed as I am. So what have I been doing with my spare time? Well, I finally managed to catch up with Barny and have a quiet drink and discussion of all the stuff we've both been up to recently. It only took us about two years of living in the same city. I've also started watching Cowboy Bebop, which has been brilliant so far. Interesting one-shot episodes and hints at metaplot behind everything. I've also been writing again. Which is kinda nifty. I'm not sure quite if it will come to anything or not, but I suppose it's kinda good practice for later life. I'm fairly uncertain what exactly it is I'm doing. I might have to put a small bit of it up here and get some opinions. Keats believed that he needed to enter a sort of a dreamlike state, known as 'negative capability' in order to write his poetry and I think I'm mildly the same, actually. Or perhaps not in terms of dreamlikeness, but I do seem to need a bit of sleep-deprivation, a bit of random inspiration and a bit of mild depression. And metal. Metal seriously helps with just about everything, it's remarkable.
I guess I'm increasingly looking forward to this year being over. It's been fairly long and complicated and, well, I can't wait to see what will happen next year. What's that? Optimism for the future? Whatever next, eh?
...it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
Yes, I thought I'd head back to good old Babylon 5 for this entry's title. It seems like months since I last wrote anything (which, I suppose rather unsurprisingly, it has been) so I thought I'd do a quick update on stuff. Let's see, my aunt is very sick, which isn't nice for me, or for anyone else. I dunno, it's so strange because when I was actually physically with her, she seemed fine and most of the time when I'm not, I don't really think about it. It's just the quiet times when I have time and space to think that it hits me...
But enough about that, having not played at all since whenever the two-headed giant thing was, however long ago that took place, I've discovered a degree of ability at Magic. It was awesome to see James, Phil, Mike and myself dominating day 2 of the Swansea Future Sight prerelease together, actually. Especially considering I managed to win on day 1 :D Major props to James for winning day 2 and very kindly giving me the second t-shirt he won. It rocked my socks all the way off my feet.
Summer seems to have been and gone again. Hilarious, actually, that as soon as lectures restarted, the weather turned back to rain and doom and gloom and things. Also hilariously (if you're me or perhaps one of a small number of my friends) "I'm going to eat your sole". I may have spent entirely more time than is really sensible just laughing at that. All I need is to imagine some sort of apocalyptic anime demon in a restaurant, saying that. I'm literally cracking up. There's something a bit wrong with that.
Another paragraph, before I collapse. My essays continue, as does my course. They are 'kinda ok', I have decided. My hair is blue. Not very blue, but a little bit. Nobody has noticed this without me first pointing it out to them (fairly unsurprising as it's fairly subtle). Right, enough of this. Most likely, you're reading this because you're my dad and you want to know what the hell's been wrong with me that means I can't send you even the briefest of e-mails to tell you. Uh, if you are, I've been working and not spending my money on Magic. Or comics. And, uh, disregard everything else. Also. And you've always been a wonderful father to me. Ok, that's enough sucking up...
I'm in love. It's been a while since it was requited.
Sorry for any laughing/smiling/happiness this may have caused and undue worry associated with the above. I'll try and tone it down. When I'm with Kate, my mouth starts to hurt from smiling all the time. Every second we're together, I'm happy. Every second we're apart, I want us to be together again. I appreciate that this is massively slushy and probably rather out of character for me. Maybe I'm getting a bit fed up of being miserable all the time. Or being balanced but never really loving life. It's time to live at the edges of life again, I think. I may be depressed more often (although I think that's mostly to do with the circumstances of how we got together more than anything to do with her) but I'm also much happier.
The title comes from Swansea Uni's very own Stevie Davies' Impassioned Clay which I read last year. The main character, Olivia, is discovering her attraction to her close friend Faith who is kinda oblivious (and broadly heterosexual). It struck a chord with me, the way that they were so close and hanging around all the time and Olivia feels so strongly but can't do anything at all because it would destroy their friendship and everything. I over-relate to everything in these situations. It's hilarious. Kinda. Maybe it's also a bit tragic. I don't know. Anyway, I'm happy. This can't be a terrible thing.
For anyone still wondering, no there's no such thing as absolute truth. It's all relative. Yes, this does mean that an objective reality doesn't exist, (or if it does, none of us can ever experience it) sorry if that annoys any of you.
Today, I don't really feel like Osterman, but I was mildly stuck for a title and my mind turned to the 'end' of Watchmen. My mind always ends up back there. I was also tempted by "The sound of her wings" from Sandman. Or even something from BSG (just finished season 2, it's rather good. Only about one or two eps that weren't superb. I love you, good sci-fi!), but Watchmen reminded me how I need to get back into the swing of normal university life, having had about a week off. I'm not sure quite what else I need to do right now. Re-read From Hell as I now own a copy, it's so good.
I think I must have skipped a happy entry somewhere, because the last two seemed kinda sad. Nevermind, eh? I've been happier than in years, or months at least. Just when I begin to think my life is perhaps a little dull, it always gets exciting again. What's that thing? "May you live in interesting times". I do right now, I certainly have in the past; maybe I always will... and I love it.
The title of this post is taken from Don DeLillo's 'White Noise' and kinda sums up my worldview at the moment. It seems that what I think is pretty much irrelevant to most of my problems and the people around me. I hate myself, other people still seem to like me. I think I'm desperately unattractive and dress incredibly badly, other people seem to think the opposite. I think I am fundamentally a good person, other people disagree. I think that the world is a black and white place filled with choices that are either right or wrong, other people tell me it's grey and that right and wrong are all relative.
Heinrich's right. What good is my truth? My truth means nothing.
It is apparently Christmas again. I seem to lack holiday cheer, though. Most of the people close to me will be fairly aware of why. It's kinda tricky, I've got lots of things to do and stuff I need to concentrate on, but my mind is constantly distracted. Oh well, there's still a few days left until the 25th so I guess I can be infected with Christmassy joy yet. Possibly.
This is the first holiday since I got to university when I can honestly say that I'd have preferred to be in Swansea. It's really strange because normally I'm keen to see my parents, but I just miss everyone and wish we could all stay around. Of course, it's not the same without the structure of lectures and is insanely quiet as soon as people start to leave. It's a very strange phenomenon, actually. Very like the weekends in the first year when campus was just totally empty. Anyway, if you're at home and missing everyone, just keep telling yourself what I am, "you'll see them all again soon enough". And distract yourself with things designed to keep you distracted. Maybe even do some revision :) I'd heard that was a good one.
People draw lines. They do it all the time. There are certain boundaries we will not cross. Broadly speaking, we don't kill each other because of the consequences (feeling freaking terrible is a consequence). Here are some lines I realised I'd unconsciously drawn with regards to being a geek:
I'm not going to play Magic at competitive events. Now, I'm good enough to win Prereleases with the right cardpool and a bit of luck so it's not a question of whether or not I'd do well, it's just something that very obviously says to me that I'm not playing for the fun of it anymore (and I'll admit I probably would enjoy it, especially if I did well). I'd have to build a competetive deck which would be a bit costly too and I'd have to learn how to pilot it and its matchups and sideboarding strategies and things. All these are ways to make a game I really enjoy unfun for me.
I'm not going to cosplay as anything or anyone. For the benefit of people who have no clue what I'm talking about (i.e. my dad. Hey dad! Hope you guys are enjoying your holiday!), cosplaying is like fancy dress but for anime or videogame characters. It's got its casual people and its obsessives like everything else. Weirder varients include crossplay (dressing as characters of the opposite sex), seifuku cosplay (dressing up as characters and having sex) and people who think of themselves as otakukin (the literal reincarnations of anime characters). No, I'm not making this up, sorry if any of you had your rosy views of the world shattered. The weirder stuff and the more obsessive people are what's putting me off this. That and the fact that I'm not pretty enough to play any of the characters I'd like to.
I'm not going to buy more geeky t-shirts than I can possibly wear. I think that one's fairly self-explanatory. This will save me cash and wardrobe space (I seem to barely have enough hangers at any given time as it is).
So, those are my lines. There are lots of others, as I'm sure some of you know but I'll talk to you about those another time. In the meantime, may I meet a girl like Rei who likes me like a girl like Asuka likes me. Did that even make sense?
Hey all. Occasionally I do stuff. Here's some stuff I did today:
" Three days, three hours. She stared down the clock, daring it to move. Time had been mocking her with every single tick since her niece had disappeared to find food. Four days, four hours. No water, no food.
Absence is the hardest part of life. To face absence is to face terror. Five days, five hours. The sound of the falling shells became as rhythmic as the achingly slow tick of the clock; as the sound of the blood pounding in her head. The colours were starting to swim.
She was face to face with terror now and it consumed her. A burst of movement; a single bullet, matching the clock's tick perfectly. Six days, six hours. The clock had stopped."
That was a really poor piece of fiction I wrote in about 20 minutes as part of my Writing Trauma module. It's slightly adapted from real testimonies in Both Right and Left Handed: Arab Women Talk about Their Lives and from things I've read in The Eye of the Mirror. So why did I choose to do this? Well, it was an unusually creative response to the stuff I'd read. We were told to write something like that, just a couple of paragraphs done as a group. My group's eventual effort was sadly crap (they did hold onto one or two of my good ideas, like the clock and the time motif, but abandoned much of the rest of it).
What else is going on in my life? Well, I'm unwell. This is very sucky. The SUCS guys and the SUMA guys and the Sci-fi guys (try saying that ten times fast!) are all cool and overlapping. This means there might be some sort of Swansea University Geek Alliance (SUGA, pronounced "sugar") at some point in the future. It would be cool to have been a part of forming that. Well, cool in a very geeky way.
I've received everything in Fables that has been published. It's a series that keeps getting better and better (although I'm starting to miss Bigby. He's bound to come back soon). Basically, it's set in modern New York where a group of characters from myth and legend cohabit, having been exiled from their home. Prominent fables are Prince Charming, Snow White, Beauty and Beast and, my personal favourite, the chain-smoking, generally unkempt and perpetually unshaven son of the North Wind, Bigby Wolf. Ok, so he's just John Constantine again, but he's still awesome.
Right. If any of you in the wide world of the internet are paying attention, you’ll have noticed that my entries seem to follow a simple pattern: happy entry; sad entry; happy entry etc.
So, by that logic, this one’s a happy one. This is great because I’m happy right now, making the whole thing lots easier.
Now I’ve got a bit more free time, too. I thought I’d revisit the heroism thing (no, I’ve not got it out of my system yet) by looking at some of the characters suggested by my lovely readers (thanks all, especially Bash for reminding me about it) and some other people I’d meant to cover the first time around but didn’t. I’ll also go over why I’ve not included certain people.
36) James Bond from the James Bond novels and films. Ok, so I’ve lumped the Bond from the films in with the character from the novels. This might well be a bit of a mistake as they’re not that alike. The Bond from the novels is much more like a real secret agent and has the moral high ground against his adversaries far less often. Bond gets in because he’s brilliantly stylish in an Indiana Jones way whilst having a more sophisticated charm for winning over the ladies. Bond’s puns and comments as he kills seem to me like a coping mechanism for the trauma of death he keeps having to go through as his close friends and fiancée (yes, I know On Her Majesty’s Secret Service sucked, but it’s still canon) are killed around him.
He takes life, but he is certain never to inflict too much suffering or to enjoy it. It’s strange, really, because he doesn’t have a great deal in the way of passion, except for women, but finds himself constantly seeking revenge. There’s not much mentioned about his parents in the films or books, only that they died in a climbing accident when he was young. It’s possible that his desire to make the world a better place by defeating evil springs from this. If there really is a hidden tragedy behind 007, he’s a considerably more interesting character. And if you’ve never read anything that Ian Fleming himself wrote about the character I suggest you do so. You’ll discover a very different Bond to Brosnan or Connery and especially Moore.
37) The Doctor from Doctor Who. The Doctor has probably the best rogues’ gallery in creation. From the Daleks to the Cybermen to the Master, they’re all brilliant. Now, I should probably mock the Russell T. Davies remake for being crap at this point and complain that the BSG remake is a million times better than anything that man will ever do. With that done, I’m going to attempt to avoid the inevitable “so which Doctor is the best, then?” questions as I did with James Bond. Now that’s all over with, I can get on with the entry proper.
I remember occasionally watching Doctor Who when I was somewhat younger and appreciating the slight strangeness of Tom Baker and latterly Sylvester McCoy. I was never a diehard fan of the series, but it kept me entertained enough. Now I’m a bit older and, mainly thanks to the university’s library, rather wiser about Whodom, I appreciate it all rather more.
Admittedly, there are lots of things in the series that are less than great (the 1996 film, over-reliance on the sonic screwdriver as a Deus Ex Machina writing crutch, 90+% of the assistants, jokes about Daleks and stairs – I could easily go on) but the fact remains that regardless of exactly who he is, The Doctor is a hero and does what needs to be done to save the galaxy.
38) John Crichton from Farscape. Imagine being the furthest you’ve ever been from home. Now imagine you were there alone and didn’t know anyone at all. Now imagine that you’ve got no way to return to where you belong and that there’s a psychopath who really wants to kill you and the only people around you are criminals who aren’t even human. Welcome to Crichton’s world.
Farscape is one of the few series I’ve watched nearly all of. There were a lot of fairly duff episodes (and characters) in there, but nearly any of them that focused on Crichton were great. He’s the central character of the series with good reason, he’s charming, witty and, most important of all, he’s human. His references to 20th century pop culture are often cutting and funny, but provide the viewer with a grounding in this futuristic and occasionally nearly incomprehensible world. Crichton’s romance with Aeryn is touching and not nearly as predictable as you might expect (in fact, most of the characters on the ship get off with one another at various times) and probably my favourite moment from the entire series is when Crichton (or a Crichton, rather, as he has been split into two identical people at the time) dies more or less in her arms. The resulting tension between her and the remaining Crichton and the truly inspired scene where he plays rock, paper, scissors with a hologram of the dead Crichton (finally having the two of them choose different things) are fantastic moments in a good series.
I can’t leave Crichton and Farscape alone without mentioning Scorpius who is a superb villain and manipulates John by quite literally, getting inside his head. When the two are forced to work as allies, we can really appreciate the differences and, it has to be said, similarities between them.
39) Sylvester “Sly Boots” Bucelli from Anachronox. Anachronox is one of my favourite games. This has not a lot to do with the plot (sadly generic stuff about the forces of Order battling the forces of Chaos) but with the characters. From the sassy Dr. Bowman to the yammering Grumpos via Pal-18, Paco, the planet Democratus and, of course, Stiletto. Yes, you read that right, you have an entire planet in your party (in miniaturised form), as well as a retired superhero, an assassin and the cutest robot since… well, probably the cutest robot ever.
If you aren’t familiar with the game, I strongly suggest you pick it up and give it a go. Failing that, the game’s cutscenes have been edited into a huge machinima movie which you can find via Google easily enough. It’s long, but by the end, you’ll have experienced some of the tribulations of the characters, and, of course, appreciated the game’s brilliant humour; not to mention some of the tragedy of the past that sits at its core. Any game that can have a character like Rictus appear in it gets the thumbs up in my book. I’ve chosen Boots because he’s the protagonist and because the others are really just minor characters in his story. Of all of them, only he really gets the backstory he deserves.
40) Halo Jones from The Ballad of Halo Jones. Ok, so one of the unwritten rules I decided on for this list was not to have two characters created by the same person or from the same universe. This is the reason that Warren Ellis’ Spider Jerusalem doesn’t appear (he was responsible for Jenny Sparks) and why I’ve not mentioned more DC and Marvel superheroes. I’m breaking my rules with this entry, and not in the manner I’d originally planned. Alan Moore is one of the most talented writers in the comics industry. I’d probably say the most talented, in fact. He’s that good.
So I thought I could stretch the rules a bit for him and write about V from the superb V For Vendetta. In light of the recent film, I’d imagine that lots of you would be familiar with him and I’ve always been secretly happy of the fact that, in my house at least, I’m the man from Room V.
I changed my mind. You probably want a good explanation for this, which I’m not sure I can adequately give. I guess I’m just a bit worried that there aren’t nearly enough women in this list (ethnic minorities do a little better, but not much, there’s a lack of black people, unless you count JC Denton). I’m also concerned with spreading the word about characters people haven’t heard of. This is why Halo gets this entry to herself. If you’re concerned about the rulebreaking, feel free to imagine this as an entry about why Buffy’s great. If you’ve seen the series, you probably don’t really need me to tell you (shame she moped for so damn long after her mum died).
Right, to business. Halo is woefully underappreciated by everyone who hasn’t read her story. She’s probably the first full-blown realistic feminist depicted in a comic (and it only took until 1984 for this to happen. Gotta love the comics industry). It’s brilliant that she’s not some crazy, homicidal, man-hating bitch and is instead just an everywoman (albeit one from the 50th Century) who lives through a fairly strange set of circumstances to become a legend. Of course, a part of the reason I like her so much is due to Moore’s nifty ideas and the fact that all we really see is a snapshot of her life. We don’t ever discover why she becomes so famous (the reason for this is probably because the series was intended as a nine book saga, of which three were completed) but the ending of the series is desperately poignant, as she’s forced to choose between her love and her ideals. If you’re really wondering what she chooses, remember that she’s a hero.
With that done, I’m going to discuss some of your suggestions (which I’ll thank you for again):
Leon – One of my failings in life is to not have managed to watch all of this film all the way through. When I do, I’ll reconsider him.
The Crow – Yep, it’s another one I’ve never seen. I know bits of the story, though, and the real-world tragedy associated with the film is obviously another factor to consider.
Vash The Stampede – I quite liked bits of Trigun. I liked how Vash’s world was black and white and desperately simple. I liked the world/mythos. I liked the animation style. I liked the outfits. I liked the fights. I really liked Legato. I didn’t like how Vash abandoned his moral code and killed him . I’m not sure quite what the point of this was, to show that man is inherently flawed (ok, so he’s not technically a man, whatever) and that his evil side will always win. Vash isn’t a true hero because he abandons everything that makes him a hero.
Bravestarr – I remember watching this but only fairly faintly. It was good, but sadly never had as much of an impact on me as Transformers or even He-Man. I kinda covered the world of nostalgic cartoons with the former and, if I were to go back to it again, I’d mention the likes of Bucky O’Hare and He-Man too.
Firefly/Serenity – Yes, I know not having seen these makes me a sucky geek. I can deal with that. On the list. High up it, in fact.
Sharpe – I must say I’ve never been into the whole “heroes of war” thing. I’m one of those people who really hates war and dislikes the way it’s often depicted as having one side as the “good” one and another as the “bad” one. I blame propaganda etc. I’ll admit to being a bit anachronistic here, but this is the main reason I’ve never read the Sharpe books or been interested in watching the TV series. I might have to try both at some point.
Titus Groan – I’m a bit ambivalent about the Gormenghast books, I liked the deep and dark gothic world that Peake depicts, but could never really bring myself to care very much about the characters. Titus, to me, always represented lack of change and I found myself more on the side of Steerpike (even though he’s obviously intended as a villain). It was only in the second and especially third books that I began to warm to Titus at all. However, I’m not sure if he’s really a hero. He doesn’t actually do an enormous amount and is only sympathetic because he’s the protagonist.
Paul Atreides – Here’s a character I could probably do a full entry on. I’d need to re-read the first book and probably read some of the others first, though.
Arthur Dent – Good old Arthur was actually one of the characters on my original list and was due to go up on it. The main problem with him is that he’s not actually a hero at all. Zaphod would be a better choice from the cast as an antihero, but he’s not all that suitable either. Arthur’s just a bit too dull and predictable and too cowardly and too tea-dependant. Nearly the only thing of significance about him is due to the planet he was born on and the lucky fact that he managed to avoid getting blown up by knowing the right person. Arthur’s a cool character for sure, but he’s not a hero.
The Wheel of Time guys – I’m not enormously into the WoT books and have no plans to cover them (too many other things on the list first!) in the immediate future.
Joshua Calvert – I’ve not even heard of this chap before. Another one for the list.
Mulder – Mulder’s tricky, because alone he’s just a conspiracy nut. It’s Scully’s rational judgement that makes anything he believes seem plausible. However, he’s usually just investigating things (until later in the show’s history, at least) and most of the time his conclusions are just as plausible as Scully’s. Maybe I’ll do a double entry so-to-speak, on these two at some point.
Louis Wu – Another series I haven’t read.Thanks for continuing along this interesting and occasionally introspective road with me. I’m enjoying it, I hope you are too. I’ll have to keep collecting things and maybe delve more into the Classical side of heroism next time.
Ok, so this entry’s going to be rather different to the usual sort of thing. No moping about how terrible my life must be or how much I hate X where X is the comedy of Jimmy Carr or the art of Frank Quitely or whatever. Instead, this is a list of inspirations for heroism. I’m trying to create the perfect hero, you see, and these characters are my list of inspirations (taken from things I’ve seen/read/etc. from childhood to the present day).
I’ll add to each entry as I go along and there will doubtless be many more than the ones I’m including here shortly. They’re included in the order that they pop into my head and the numerical ranking system is almost totally arbitrary. All entries assume at least a basic understanding of the work in question in which the heroes appear. I have attempted to avoid spoilers wherever possible but if you do intend to read/view/play these things then you should probably avoid reading them.
If I have the inclination and the time to do so in the future, I’ll do an in-depth top 5. If you have feedback, if you disagree with my choices or you’ve got the perfect character I haven’t listed, please let me know and I’ll do my best to become familiar with them if I’m not and try and defend my decisions. As I’ve said, this is not an exhaustive list and will increase in volume as and when I/you think of characters. Be warned; it is already somewhat epic and the writing is fairly uninspiring.
1) Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Cloud is a character I’m always fairly ambivalent about. On the one hand, he’s a mopey guy who’s clearly compensating for something with that sword, but on the other, he can certainly fight well and saves the world. Gotta love the hair and the outfit too. Cloud also gets a major mention because of his nemesis, Sephiroth, whose style is fantastic and who manages to pull off long girly hair and a daikatana (arguably sillier than anything Cloud ever uses) by virtue of being badass. Although any of the FFVII characters could probably be mentioned here easily enough (with the possible exceptions of Cait Sith and Yuffie who both annoy the hell out of me), Cloud is the protagonist of the story and deserves the top billing. The game itself is great, with the moment when Sephiroth kills someone very dear to Cloud (and, by extension, to you) being one of the most poignant I’ve experienced in a game. And the shot of Sephiroth turning away from the camera and walking into the flames is perfectly re-realised in Advent Children.
2) Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji is wonderful because he’s so uncertain of his own ability and because of the way he’s torn between Rei and Asuka and because of hundreds of other things. I’d go into more here, but Shinji has enormous depth and I’d hate not to cover him properly. I need to see all of Eva again and highly recommend it to anyone that can deal with sci-fi and anime. If you can get past the medium (and there are a few poor people who can’t) then it’s superb.
3) Nearly everyone from Watchmen. That’s right, this isn’t just one character, it’s four. Dr. Manhattan is brilliant because he is, to all intents and purposes, God. This naturally leaves him with very little connection to the rest of humanity. I love his perception of time, I love how his presence alters the course of history massively, I love how he chooses the symbol that he respects. Rorschach is another excellent character. He’s paranoid to the point of delusion and yet correct; he’s relentlessly violent and yet the still story’s protagonist. We sympathise with him when he kills police officers. We even end up on his side when he goes through psychotherapy. Think the modern ‘Dark Knight’ Batman but turned up to 11 and you’ll have one of the most interesting antiheroes I’ve ever known. Moore’s other take on Batman can be seen in Nite Owl who has aged properly and is overweight and totally fails to sustain an erection. Yet he still has some damned cool toys and even manages to get the girl. Finally, Ozymandias, the perfect man. He blurs the line of exactly what a hero is far beyond even Rorschach and makes choices that are incomprehensible, culminating in the so-called ‘ultimate weapon’ that saves the world. (or does it?) If you can read and look at pictures, you should read Watchmen. Bitter social commentary and an exploration of what it means to be human and superhuman. Feel free to bother me for my copy.
4) Naota Nandaba from FLCL. FLCL is Naota’s story, a strange series of events with mecha and aliens and guitars. But at its core, it’s a story about a boy pushed through puberty (almost literally) by Haruko Haruhara whom he dislikes, then loves and ultimately is forced to betray. FLCL is probably one of my favourite things due to its style but mostly due to its story. Naota is forced to accept huge responsibility for simply being who he is and, at the end of the story, nothing changes. Even though the events of the show would seem to disagree, he’s still perfectly right when he says, “Nothing ever happens here”. When you’re a hero, nothing ever happens, until you save the world.
5) King Arthur from British legend. King Arthur is one of those myths that has endured in spite of not really having any official version printed anywhere. Arthur is a great hero and a particularly interesting one because he may actually not be fictional (this list is of characters who do not exist, as I’m sure you’ve noticed) and because he’s one of the few examples of a hero whose entire ‘life cycle’ is seen by the reader: from the early days with his own father (a great hero himself) and Merlin (one of the best mentor figures around), right to the end of his life when he dies alone. Arthur’s story is a truly epic one and I always get a little shiver when the once and future king pulls Excalibur from the stone, I also appreciate the fact that his intelligence is emphasised as well as his strength through the creation of the round table. Arthur’s downfall is pure tragedy and his world falls apart when he picks Sir Lancelot over his son. This is the one act that is fated to destroy his marriage, his castle and ultimately kill him. Also worthy of a mention is Morgan le Fay for planning this downfall and for the way she manipulates Mordred. An excellent nemesis for a near-perfect hero.
6) Rick Deckard from Blade Runner. First of all, let me apologise to you for never having read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This is an enormous oversight on my part and really needs rectifying somewhat sharpish. That said, Blade Runner is a great film and Deckard is a great character (partly because Harrison Ford is a great actor) with a great nemesis in Roy (also a great character because Rutger Hauer is a great actor). Everything in this film is great (I’m going to stop using that word now). I’m discussing the Director’s Cut rather than the original as I feel that the two films are almost totally different and I prefer the former. Although there is ambiguity about exactly who Deckard is and the question of whether or not he is a replicant, this does not matter and does not answer whether or not he is a hero. Even though he has not seen as much of the universe as Roy (and what a superb job Roy does of expressing how very much he has seen) and even though he does not save the world or even have a happy ending, he does his job in difficult circumstances against tricky odds. This is sometimes all you need to do to be a hero. He’s a classic film noir detective thrown into a futuristic world where all appearances are deceptive and the synthetic characters are almost considerably more ‘human’ than the humans themselves in their capacity for emotion.
7) John Sheridan from Babylon 5. I’ll be honest with you, when Sheridan first appeared, I didn’t like him very much. I wanted to know where the hell Sinclair had gone and what this brash, arrogant military boy was doing in C&C. This dislike never actually disappeared, but there’s no denying that if B5 has a hero, Sheridan is it. Anyone that can put a guy like Kosh in their place is worthy of respect. Oh and he was able to say “get the hell out of my galaxy” to two warring alien factions immeasurably more powerful than him; reform the corrupt government of Earth and form an alliance of species that would last long beyond his own short lifetime without breaking a sweat. Sheridan matures an enormous amount throughout the series and finds love in the most unlikely of places. The last episode alone is a perfect example of why Sheridan is a fantastic character. Honourable mentions go to Marcus and Londo, the first for dying in the name of love and inspiring Ivanova to her famous quotation (“all love is unrequited… all of it”) and Londo for the darkness within him that almost totally consumes him before he finds the light again. They are all brilliant characters and it’s an equally brilliant series.
8) Jenny Sparks from The Authority. I’ve chosen Jenny because I can’t think of a better embodiment of the spirit of the 20th Century than a chainsmoking, foulmouthed British blonde and neither can Warren Ellis. Although it can be argued that some of the other characters in The Authority are much better choices, Jack Hawksmoor or Apollo and The Midnighter; Jenny is a definitive leader and, because she died when Ellis’ run on the book finished, has never been forced to compromise her goals with the real world. Whilst Jack becomes a sort of president figure, Jenny’s legacy is what inspires him. She’s a fantastic character and her epitaph is a perfect summation of what she stands for: ‘Bugger this, I wanted a better world’. In the end, that’s what all heroes want; to improve the world for other people. Oh, and she kills God too. That counts for a lot.
9) Wallace from Sin City. If you’re wondering which character from the film Wallace is, stop. He appeared only in To Hell and Back (a Sin City Love Story), an arc I really loved mainly because of Wallace, undoubtedly one of Basin City’s most dangerous inhabitants. His long black hair, leather coat and Converse trainers looked fantastic in Miller’s world of black and white and his quest to recover the woman he loves takes him on a strange journey filled with heroes, villains, a brilliant drug trip and to a final, brutal confrontation that ranks amongst my favourites. Wallace is a very simple character, it has to be said, and is a caricature of a certain type of man (as most of the people in Sin City are) but the ‘guns and dames’ thing still holds a lot of appeal for me.
10) JC Denton from Deus Ex. Denton’s a kinda complicated one because he is, to all intents and purposes, you. You make most of his choices for him, however there are some points in the game where you’re forced into a certain action. When you discover that your bosses are corrupt and that the NSF terrorists you’re meant to be exterminating aren’t really all that evil after all; JC makes the right choice and does the heroic thing. JC is also mirrored in his brother, Paul, and the people around him. It’s through them that we get the impression that he is a good person. The long coat and sunglasses indoors were taken straight from The Matrix but still looked good and the idea of being a techno-augmented human is an interesting one and the monofilament katana remains a must-have accessory. And (of course) he saves the world in one of three exciting ways at the end.
11) Aeneas from the Aeneid. Aeneas is a perfect example of a classical hero. He manages to find love and to lose it, to battle men and beasts, to visit the underworld and even to found the beginnings of the Roman people (admittedly, Virgil died before actually writing this bit, but the intention was certainly there). So why have I chosen Aeneas (who is admittedly somewhat dry and dull) over say Achilles or Odysseus? Well, the Aeneid was the first example of a classical myth I ever read and so it’s more important to me. If you want a little less conversation and a little more action, read The Odyssey, though (or listen to Elvis).
12) Yorick Brown from Y: The Last Man. Yorick is the last man alive. Now, I’m sure that a few of us might think, ‘yay!’ at this, but not the intensely practical Yorick. All he wants is to find Beth, his girlfriend, and not to draw too much attention to himself in the new society where women find themselves suddenly in charge. Yorick is a typical everyman (admittedly, his skill as an escape artist is extremely useful) thrust into a totally alien situation. Vaughn cleverly subverts the ideas of what a world without men would be like by having many women become considerably more masculine (dressing up as Amazons and, yes, even cutting off their breasts – although this is a symbolic rather than a practical gesture). I don’t actually own any of this series and it’s still ongoing, so I have no idea how Yorick will evolve as a character but I’m sure he’ll continue to produce brilliant one-liners and try and discover the cause of the plague that killed nearly everything with a Y chromosome. Who knows, he may even save the world and get the girl.
13) Lain Iwakura from Serial Experiments Lain. Lain’s another one of those characters who doesn’t quite fit into the role of a hero. She’s not who she thinks she is, this much is certain and the question of the other Lain, the one from the Wired, and exactly who has created whom is an important one. I obviously identify with her for being a computer geek a bit and for not fitting in terribly well at school. She never really has any close friends and so is a lot more human than some of the characters on this list. She is nearly an ordinary girl but never quite fits into the role she has chosen for herself. It’s all very complicated and would involve huge spoilers for the series if I were to go into it now.
14) Donnie Darko from Donnie Darko. I have read lots of strange theories about exactly who Donnie is and who Frank is. Many people dismiss him as a kid with mental illness, but he’s much more than that. Donnie deserves a full entry for everything about him. He does what most of the heroes I’ve mentioned never have to; he makes an important sacrifice in order to save people he cares about. He’s definitely one of the Top 5, though.
15) Superman from DC Comics. The first (nearly) superhero. You all know him so I’ll not spend too long discussing the Man of Steel. When Siegel and Shuster wrote about a man from a dead planet who was faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Kal-El introduced themes like a weakness (the ever-popular Kryptonite), a secret identity (mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent) and a gallery of supervillains (Lex Luthor, Brainiac, General Zod and Mr. Mxyzptlk to name just a few) to superheroes. His influence can still be felt today with Smallville and Superman Returns. Even though the primary colours and getting dressed in the dark (underpants on the outside, anybody?) detract from my appreciation of him slightly, he’s still the superhero.
16) Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. Another one I think you’ll all know fairly well. To some eyes, Luke is a fairly simple update of the Arthurian legend and is hardly a complicated person. This is fair enough. However, he does have a lightsaber, which counts for a great deal :). I will admit to now appreciating Wedge Antilles a great deal more than Luke, but when I was small and watching the film for the first time, the latter was the guy who appealed to me. Luke is a great example of a hero who starts from extremely humble beginnings and achieves greatness through discipline and hard work. His mentors allow him to eventually perform impossible feats via The Force and to save not just one planet but the whole universe. The familial relationship between Luke and Vader is all a giant retcon, but a fairly intelligent and cool one on Lucas’ part (unlike midi-bloody-chlorians) so it’s forgiven. Admittedly, Luke doesn’t get the girl, but he does get a sister, a brother-in-law and, in the expanded universe, a great deal more. Even though he becomes a teacher, then an enemy to his old friends, then more he remains a simple moisture farmer from a tiny planet in the back of nowhere in his heart.
17) Riff from Sluggy Freelance. I’ve been reading Sluggy for a good few years now and have always liked Riff. Although Torg would probably fit equally well in this spot, he’s always (until fairly recently, anyway) lacked the level of heroism or coolness of Riff. Even when Riff was evil, he was still cool (maybe even cooler than before!). Riff is great for the fact that he is an inventor (nearly unique amongst people on this list), for the on-again, off-again relationship he has with Gwynn, for always having a laser when it’s needed and for the way he rarely expresses how he really feels on the inside. He’s an introvert and I guess I empathise with that. The fact he cares for Kiki shows us a slightly different side to him too.
18) Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. Although I read The Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings, it is Frodo and his quest that grabbed my interest. First and foremost, Frodo is a simple guy dealing with things that are miles bigger than him (and not just because he’s a hobbit, either). Unlike Aragorn who has the natural qualities of a leader and is born to be king or Sam who is a fairly simple chap with an innocent heart or Gandalf with his vast knowledge and enormous lifespan, Frodo is inquisitive to an almost childlike degree. He wants to leave The Shire, to explore like his uncle, but he does not realise the magnitude of the task before him. He does not realise exactly what he is getting himself into. His responsibility corrupts him, as you would expect it to, given its great evil. Frodo’s greatest enemy is simultaneously miles away in Mordor and yet very close to him, in the ring he carries. Just as the ring corrupted Bilbo and Gollum before him, it starts to change Frodo and he loses his innocence, to a certain degree. Once the hero has seen the heart of darkness within himself, he can never turn back from it.
19) Archangel from X-Men. First of all, I’d like to dissociate this entry from the films, especially X-Men: The Last Stand, which allegedly contained Angel. I saw absolutely nothing of the pathos of this character in the stupid, blank-looking pretty boy played by Ben Foster. Initially in the comics, Warren was never a very deep guy; he liked the ladies, sure and he could fly. He had a gun, which was probably nice (although I forget if it was for shooting people with bullets or tranquillisers). However, in the 1980s, he was reunited with the rest of the original X-Men as X-Factor (the less said about his time with The Defenders, the better) and was involved in the Mutant Massacre. Angel’s powers aren’t exactly super; yet he was more than willing to risk his life to save the Morlocks. If it had been Colossus or Wolverine, they would have been fine (admittedly, Colossus was fairly badly hurt by the Marauders, but work with me here) because they had powers that actually let them fight. Angel was very badly hurt and his wings were amputated. He tried to kill himself. This was fairly dark territory for the comic to be going, particularly as Warren had always been fairly happy-go-lucky in the past. Warren came back as Apocalypse’s Death with new, metal wings and blue skin. He was fairly depressed, as you can imagine, and had made a deal with the devil just to fly again. At his core, of course, Warren was a nice guy and didn’t remain Archangel for long, eventually having his original wings return and even later losing his blue skin too. Archangel’s not the best character, but to return from the deepest darkness like he did is heroic. To try and save the Morlocks was heroic. I’ve always wanted to be able to fly and there’s never been a cooler way than doing it with blue skin, long blond hair and metal wings.
20) Gai Daigoji from Martian Successor Nadesico. Gai’s almost a cardboard character. By this I mean he doesn’t get the important development of Ruri or especially Akito due to what happens to him. He is still one of my favourite heroes, however, because of his extreme fanboyness. He gets to play in a giant mech and loves it in a way that I know I would love it. He gets a mention for abandoning his seriously dull old name (Jiro Yamada is sorta like the Japanese equivalent of John Smith but multiplied by a factor of several thousand) in favour of the exciting “Gai Daigoji”, his so-called ‘true name’. Say it to yourself (sounds like guy die-go-jee) and appreciate its lyric brilliance. So yes, the ultimate otaku and Gekigangar III fan deserves this spot over even the real hero of the series for his blind faith in himself and the incredibly useful ability to shout “Gekigan FLARE!” without a trace of irony.
21) Neo from The Matrix. If you know me already, you’ll know I quite like Neo. He’s another character that’s reclusive and quiet and doesn’t fit in and yet is able to escape the confines of his dull, repetitive job and eventually his whole dull repetitive life through computers. I’m a bit of a computer geek and a bit of a sci-fi geek too (ok, a lot of a sci-fi geek) so, even though the two sequels and the fact that I’ve discovered that the film is incredibly contrived and takes bits and pieces from other people in an extreme, near-Equilibrium type way, it will always have a special place in my heart. Neo’s image of himself as he would wish to be (the coat, sunglasses, etc.) is nearly spot on for a hacker who’s played too many computer games. Oh, and I can still watch the lobby scene on repeat without feeling too silly. Neo eventually does the best possible thing that a hero can do; he sets about trying to give others the same insight that he has received. To be a hero himself, and to make more heroes. This is what I plan to do.
22) Will Parry from His Dark Materials. When I was a bit younger, I used to read a lot more than I currently do. I think I used to enjoy it a bit more, too. There are few books I have enjoyed as much as The Subtle Knife. This book introduced my namesake to Lyra and the reader and I could see a lot myself in this quiet, black haired, mildly paranoid teenager. Their epic quest is one of the better ones I have read and the way that Will and Lyra fall in love and then realise that they can’t be together is heartbreakingly sad (even if Lyra’s not exactly my kind of girl). I’m overdue a re-reading of these novels and I’ll probably update this entry when I get done with that.
23) John Yossarian from Catch-22. Yossarian lives! That’s really the key to the novel. Whilst the other characters are slowly killed off around him, he beats the unbeatable, he escapes the insanest of situations and he lives. Now, I’ve not actually managed to read Closing Time yet, but I will. When I do, Yossarian will get an update so that he’s on par with some of the others. Yossarian gets a mention for being a key part of one of the most beautifully written tragic-comic novels I’ve ever read; for his taste for the surreal and desire, above all to live through his 50 missions or 60 missions and eventually go home. His worldview is heavily coloured by the death of Snowden and it is sometimes a very bleak place indeed, but he survives all of it and beats the unbeatable situation because he is a hero.
24) Largo from Megatokyo. Largo is, in many ways, the Riff of Megatokyo. Where Piro is the one whom all the girls are chasing and who plays the role of protagonist, Largo is usually in the background, muttering in l337 about teh 3vil, wearing nothing but his boxers. This gives him a certain mystique, in my mind and the way he views the world is inspiring. He’s a bit like Gai from Nadesico in this way because neither of them lives in the same world as the rest of the characters. Largo sees zombies everywhere and lives life as if it’s all a huge videogame and Gai lives as if he’s an anime character (the irony being, of course, that he is). Largo’s story isn’t over and it remains to be seen if his burgeoning relationship with Erika will ever get off the ground or if he’s destined to always be a lone wolf, drinking b33r and fighting monsters. He’s a hero because he lives to be a hero, it’s not his destiny or a huge quest or anything, just part (some would say all) of who he is.
25) Max Carrion from The Garden of Unearthly Delights. Maxwell Karrien is excellent because he’s nobody and remains nobody (although he does save the world. Well, a world, anyway.). This was the first Robert Rankin novel I’d ever read. The style was rather unlike anything else I’d seen before (having not seen any Ben Elton or Catch-22) and it was strangely appealing. This is the reason that Max gets the nod over Pooley or Omally who have multiple novels as the protagonists to establish themselves as reluctant, occasionally even unwitting, heroes. Max’s outfit sounds excellent and allows Rankin the same pop culture references that I indulge in all the time. If there’s one thing that Max is missing, it’s a 7.62x51mm NATO General Electric minigun.
26) Link from The Legend of Zelda (and sequels). There have been many Links, but they all share the same style (blond hair, elf ears, green ranger-type outfit with matching floppy cap; sword and shield or bow/boomerang/etc.) and the same attributes (bravery, desire to defeat Ganon and save Zelda by completing the Triforce). His motivation is fairly unclear, but he does it anyway. He’s a hero in order to do heroic things. Link gets this spot over similar characters (Mario or Sonic) for not being a plumber or a hedgehog.
27) Waylander from the Drenai series. Waylander is an assassin who has killed the king. Now, this makes him at best an antihero and at worst a fairly evil man. Yet he is a honourable man with a fairly simple desire not to die and not to have to go through the pain of losing people he loves again. Eventually, he becomes a reluctant hero and is coerced by a series of events into finding a legendary set of armour which will turn the tide of a war. This is all fairly generic fantasy stuff and the romance seems tacked on. It’s only really by the time of Hero in the Shadows that Waylander improves as a character beyond ‘generic assassin’ to become The Gray Man, a mysterious recluse, haunted by his past. Of course, events conspire against him once again and he finds himself saving the world again. Waylander’s tale is one of redemption and I think it’s good to believe that even the blackest of hearts can eventually change. It’s generic and mindless, but then, so was I as a teenager J.
28) Indiana Jones from the Indiana Jones films. Indy is a nearly perfect action hero for several reasons. First, he takes a popular pulp character like Doc Savage and updates him for the modern world. Secondly, he’s got his trademarks: the bullwhip and fedora and stubble and especially the attitude. Thirdly, he’s a hit with the ladies (although none of them seem able to last longer than a film). Fourthly, he has a sidekick (in Temple of Doom, anyway). Sidekicks can be important. Fifthly, there’s no moral ambiguity; Indy’s the good guy and the crazy fanatics or the Nazis or whatever are the bad guys. All these things and more add up to a quality hero.
29) Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island games. First off, look at that name, does anything say ‘mighty pirate’ better? I think not! Guybrush is obviously a classic nerdy hero wanting to be more than he is, to turn from a spotty teen into undoubtedly the piratiest man in the Tri-Island area. He defeats the evil ghost pirate LeChuck on no less than four consecutive occasions in a series of brilliant ways; finds the missing treasure of Big Whoop (ok, so that was something of a stupid disappointment but never mind); defeats the Swordmaster and manages to marry the beautiful Governor Elaine Marley. Guybrush is a perfect comic hero and that’s more or less all there is to it.
30) Hamlet from Hamlet. Many smarter, more intelligent people than me have done good analyses of Hamlet’s character and his importance not just to the play named for him but to the way we view tragedy as a whole. I’m not going to attempt any of this but simply analyse why he’s a true hero. He’s torn between his desire to avenge his father and his fear of the potential consequences (not just if he’s caught or not but what will happen if he actually succeeds in killing Claudius). In the midst of this, he has to deal with his love for Ophelia and her death, the relationship between his mother and his uncle and above all of this, the ghost of his dead father pushing him ever further to murder and insanity (the famous ‘to be or not to be’ speech is all about Hamlet’s contemplation of suicide, if you didn’t already know). Hamlet ends with a stage covered with bodies as the hero finally manages to kill his uncle and avenge his father, dying himself in the process. Because he finally succeeds in his quest, he is a hero, although a tragically flawed one. Hamlet shows that not every hero’s life ends by walking into the sunset.
31) Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks is a very strange place where a good 75% of the population seem to have mental illnesses of varying severity. At the same time, Twin Peaks is a very intelligent show, exposing the strangeness at the heart of many small towns in America. It’s important to note that Cooper comes from the outside, being an FBI investigator, and is accepted, for the most part. He seems to fit in there much better than other outsiders (like Rosenfield, for example, who cannot stand the lack of high quality facilities) due to his adaptability. So why’s he a hero? Well, he helps the town’s inhabitants discover who killed Laura Palmer; he’s got a few trademarks: the thumbs up and love of coffee and cherry pie (the latter of which I share) and his particular brand of detection involving rock throwing and a glass bottle remains one of the absolute best scenes in anything ever.
32) Rama from the Ramayana. If you thought that classical myth was the be all and end all of ancient heroism, you’re very wrong. This epic poem remains one of my favourite stories for the love between Rama and Sita and the low cunning and brute force of the demon, Ravana. Admittedly, Rama has a few things on his side, here. He’s actually an incarnation of Vishnu whose whole purpose for being there is to kill Ravana. When he’s exiled, Rama is stoic about his punishment and is faithful to his wife, Sita. When Ravana captures her, he resolves to get her back and lays siege to Sri Lanka where Ravana rules. All these things are enormously heroic and, in the middle of a huge battle, Rama kills Ravana. When he is forced to give up life with Sita again, he is a broken man (avatar of Vishnu, whatever). They finally get to be together. Although Rama is technically Vishnu, he acts more like a man than a god and throughout his moral dilemmas, never compromises and sticks to the virtuous path, weathering all his challenges.
33) James T. Kirk from Star Trek. So, the age-old Kirk vs. Picard debate finally is solved. Well, not really. I actually prefer Picard (and I like Sisko best of all) but he’s not a hero in the same way that Kirk is. Kirk does what you might expect a 1960s man to do in the future; he fights alien men and sleeps with alien women (usually in that order), before mocking the guy who represses his emotions and going to warp. The special effects are dated, but there’s no denying that without Kirk, we wouldn’t have TNG, and without that, most modern sci-fi would likely not have been made either. Even if he’s not as cerebral as Picard, Kirk still deserves the place here for his old-fashioned asskicking talents.
34) Cohen the Barbarian from the Discworld series. Cohen is not Rincewind. Rincewind is a useless coward with an inability to spell, Cohen’s the Disc’s greatest hero (although he should have doubtless retired by now). Ok, so he’s a comedy character and I could have had exactly the same effect by replacing him with Druss the Legend from Gemmell’s Legend but I think it’s important to have heroes who have been doing the job so long that they are damned hard to kill, in spite of their age (and perhaps because of it). Cohen never really struck me as a good character in the early Discworld books; it was only in The Last Hero that I really came to appreciate him properly. Throwing a seven on a six-sided dice remains one of my favourite moments and he really deserves the end he got there. The role of ‘old man who’s hard to kill’ seems to have been taken by Sam Vimes and I’ll have to wait and see if he can turn from a great character into a true hero. I’m guessing (due to the way that Vimes doesn’t play by the rules very often) that Carrot’s a better bet for the Watch’s hero, though.
35) Optimus Prime from Transformers. Ok, let’s go waaay back to 1984 and the first appearance of this hero. I would have been –2. I’m sorry if that makes any of you feel incredibly old. Prime is perhaps the perfect hero. He’s got style, panache, the ability to turn into a truck, cool guns, leadership qualities, occasional conflicts within himself and an almost miraculous ability to come back to life. I swear, he’s done it more times than Wolvie… Although there have been lots of pretenders to the throne over the years in Ultra Magnus, Rodimus Prime and others, he is definitive proof that you need more than the Autobot Matrix of Leadership to be a hero.
Wow, well that took longer than I’d thought. Many congratulations to anyone who made it this far, especially anyone who did it in one sitting. Although I’ve covered lots of people and robots and things, there are many more to come. Once again, if you have feedback, positive or negative, please let me know.
No 'did it hurt?' quips, if you please. This one seems to be: 1) enormously long because it is 2) in two parts and is both 3) Philosophical and 4) Political. Enjoy or ignore, it's mostly written for me to come back to in a few years and laugh at my naivety anyway. :)
I have (fairly arbitrarily) decided that there are essentially two types of people: happy people and sad people. One is not inherently better or worse than the other, they're just different. For the longest time, I'd thought that it was better to be sad than happy because then you weren't deluding yourself about the nature of the world (I am, as you'll know if you've ever met me or paid any attention to this blog, a sad person). A while back, I changed my mind and decided that it was a lot more fun to be a happy person. Even more recently (within the last couple of years) I decided that actually, I'd been wrong all along and that there weren't happy or sad people, there were just people and that everyone was happy or sad at different times.
Obviously I'm not saying that sad people are never happy nor that happy people are never sad. I've never thought this. It's silly, even for when we're making enormously broad assumptions about people. Right now, I'm not sure if it's better to be sad or happy. I'm not sure it's possible to change being a sad person into being a happy person or the other way around. So anyway, ask yourself: are you a happy person or a sad person? (Be warned, I think there are a lot more sad people in the world than happy ones and if you're reading this, it's fairly likely that you're a sad person).
What else have I been up to? Oh, I had a nifty discussion with my brother earlier about what level of freedom people should have? I've discovered that I'm stupidly liberal and that he's slightly less liberal but still really liberal. Essentially, we discussed how far the state should get involved with the decisions of the people in it. I proposed free will as the core of my argument; if people want to send their children to work instead of school, they should have the choice to do so. They should be made very aware that doing this is a stupid thing and that an education will be the only way for them to make any money. People could also have homeopathic treatments (at their own expense) if they want instead of NHS care, they should just be made aware that they will probably die. This may keep the stupid people from living too long and improve society generally.
There would likely still be crime (the choice there is made by the criminals; if they stay within the laws, life is nifty, if they break them, it's really, really unpleasant). As for the crime of inciting racial/religious/etc. hatred, then that would disappear; I've always thought that if you feel strongly enough about something (no matter how stupid it is) then you should be allowed to tell others about it. It's more important to me that they can say these things and then have the people listening make their own choices afterwards.
If you're the head of an enormous megaconglomerate, the only thing stopping you from keeping all your workers' wages at 25p a year is the fact that they can work elsewhere and you'll have no workers. If all the enormous megaconglomerates work together to try and fix wages, then you have an issue. Nobody can live on that much money; they can't afford to go to other countries and so they would start to die. Once enough of them had died, the chairmen of the megaconglomerates would probably learn their lesson and work things out properly. Yes, this is all a fairly sinister way to look at things and one that didn't sit too well with my brother who thinks that every human being has a degree of social responsibility.
We should pay tax to help people who aren't as fortunate as us (being, as we are, very, very middle class) and try to be generally nice. The issue I have with these things is that these decisions are of benefit to the people as a whole, but not to certain individuals (i.e. the very rich). He thinks that this is ok because they're rich and can easily afford to lose some of their money to help starving kids (very true). I just take issue with the line drawing that has to go on. At what point do you decide to say 'hang on, the government has no right to decide e.g. what colour a person should have their house'? I also take issue with the fact that a small number of people are deciding what will happen for the masses. (A large number can't decide because it becomes extremely impractical to have a referendum every few days for important issues). I don't think it's possible to have all of the people being happy without all this free will stuff.
Anyway. Now you all know that I seem to want everyone that isn't me to die (feel free to misquote me in the future if/when I become famous and things/you get bored) and that I'm apparently some sort of evil Jew-killing fascist. Possibly. This entry is approaching 1000 words, which is just as well because I was worrying that I wasn't able to actually write properly for lengths of time anymore. This bodes well for an idea which some of you may be aware of. Keep an eye on this blog for future entries with info about my theories on the nature of heroism. It should, if nothing else, be an entertaining ride.