Thursday, January 19, 2012

Me, My Strange Brain & I

I just happened to catch "Perchance To Dream"; an episode from Batman: The Animated Adventures, that surrounds a situation where Batman is given a chance to have 'the perfect life' via The Mad Hatter - via a dream. And I found myself thinking, after I finished watching, how much that show meant to me as a child/youngster/teenager, even if I couldn't then articulate it.

Unlike the Catholic Church that I had so far interacted with, it didn't say that I was somehow blessed due to the dysfunction in my family, or that it was a test or trial of spirit - it said simply that my pain was part of who I was. It made me me. I hadn't asked for it. I didn't necessarily want it, but it helped form me, it was a part of my foundation. Without it, I wouldn't be me, I wouldn't be who I had become and was becoming.

It said that being me was OK. Being me, was truth.

I joke a lot of the time that I belong to The Church Of Batman. And thinking about that episode, writing about it now, the joke seems less 'ha ha, tease' and more philosophical actuality. Sometimes it feels like everything I learned about surviving in life and how to be a good person, was pretty damn much directed by Batman*.

He will always be my hero for taking his pain and loss and directing it towards protection. For being an example who knew loss would define him, but chose how. Who reached out to others feeling similar pain and isolation and offered direction and guidance, or just a sense of purpose, and who created his own family. Batman didn't give up on having family, closeness, nearness, it's just in a perhaps unexpected, untraditional paradigm.

Someone showed me a page the other day; Wonder Woman shooting guns. I think they said Guns of Eros, or some such. And after I had my moment of eyerolling, I did end up wondering what story that told; story as in aesop's fable, moral folktale, ethical framework. Do people even realize that? Even though they themselves may often call the Christian Bible - The Greatest Story Ever Told?

Stories to live your life by. Stories to guide your perspective in the world; how you treat others; how you treat yourself.

The current crop of comics writers and execs and artists; are they story-tellers? Is there a story they want to continue with the characters? Something that builds on what drew them into that world?

Recently I caught up to Written World, by Ragnell and caught her late 2011 early 2012 OMGWTF over Captain America implicitly condoning torture and was reminded of Box in The Box, oddly enough. He has a theory that the current crop of writers detest heroes; Don't believe in them and thus do not create or perpetuate them.

And now I wonder, what goes through the minds of those who joke to themselves that they belong to 'The Church of Captain America'. How do they deal with someone like Cap walking out to let others torture for information? Is it like losing one's faith in a more traditional religion? Is there a sense of emptiness and loss, and crushing betrayal and despair? Do the writers of that tale; were they ever members of that Church? Or are these actions some odd kind of Cold War, an anti-evangelism? Or are they the types who think it's worth nothing but mockery to speak of these things in terms of religion, spirituality, ethics, personal templates?

Though if they did, would they still roll their eyes at concepts like diversity, intersectionality and social justice; cause those fit the mission of a spiritual philosophy very well.

All I know is for myself, and that suddenly it makes sense why I was both so happy to rediscover comics several years ago, and why I ended up walking away. I lost them because of being in an unfamiliar land and not knowing quite how to get back into them. It was like not knowing how to get to church, realizing you had no idea the name of your faith to even ask about the building. And then I found them again many several years later and had to face what they'd become... and were still becoming.

Heh, corruption in the church, I suppose.

But it does make sense to me, why I'd walk away and hold on to my memories, and the lessons I'd originally learned and not try to fit what was being displayed into the framework that helped make me part of who I am. Maybe some people can. I can't. I may not honor Hera or Thor or Pele or Kali Ma and my fondness for Mary may be vestigial. But I realize, I do honor Diana the Wonder Woman, Batman, and on occasion Superman. Funny, how so many call them 'The Trinity' and yet....

Maybe one day someone will explain to me how and why others hold on and pay money while hoping. Or perhaps why they believe DC and Marvel and the like hold exclusive rights to interpretations; can hold their honored figures hostage.

PS: It probably also explains why, for me, my personal iconography; Superman or rather Clark Kent remains a seeming Asian American adopted by two well meaning white folk in Kansas; why Bruce Wayne was a white mask for black Batman, and why I always wonder why Diana isn't brown and Greek enough on the paper.

* For the record Dad, you've always been my Batman, or rather Batman's always been my fictional Dad. You both had 'protecting the innocent' in common.