Thursday, 11 October 2007

I Dream The Lameness Heroic This post concerns an Umberto Eco essay published in the Spring, 1972 volume of Diacritics entitled Or perhaps this post was an excuse to publish the title of article as printed in the Spring, 1972 volume of Diacritics. (As the Jews say: dayenu.) This essay's been on my mind since I read Scott McLemee's "Good Grief" (about Eco's "The World of Charlie Brown"), as evidenced by the following two dreams: Dream #1: The Lamest Mutant Power Ever Namely, the power to create and pop corn kernels with my mind. Attempts to propel myself into the sky on an ascending slide of popping corn (a la Iceman) failed. My attempt to stop a large object (a Buick) with a wall of popped corn met with similar "success." When my friends disappeared—presumably off to fight real criminals with their real powers—I amused myself by hitting the street and creating, then popping, corn kernels in the mouths of unsuspecting pedestrians. I took great pleasure in watching their faces contort to the tune of bug-in-my-mouth, then relax when the kernel hit their tongue. They had no clue where this popcorn came from, and only one or two broke stride to search for a potential source. The dream didn't "end" so much as "stop" when I became bored with the endless iteration of the same, or what Eco calls "a typical high redundance message [which] informs us of very little and which, on the contrary ... keeps hammering home the same meaning which we have peacefully acquired upon reading the first work in the series." (Or, in my case, from popping the first kernel in the mouth of a stranger.) I took comfort in the known and sated my "hunger for redundance." My complacence prevented me from realizing the potential my power held. Like Superman, who "carries on his activity on the level of the small community where he lives (Smallville as a youth, Metropolis as an adult)," I ignored everything outside the borders of the dream city in which I lived. Because I couldn't fight crime, I felt impotent. The fact that I could conjure food stuff from thin air disappointed me. Not only did I not want to feed the world, the thought never even occurred to me, because "the only visible form that evil assumes is an attempt on private property." Eco pegged the lameness of my unimaginative dream-hero. Dream #2: The Lamest Article Ever Contrary to the claims of Dream #1 and Eco, the Superman myth concerns issues other than the protection of the propertied classes from miscreants who place illegitimate claims on their stuff. In point of fact, the latest big-screen iteration, Superman Returns, is Bryan Singer's allegorical critique of the neoconservative movement generally and the Bush Administration in particular. Such, at least, was the argument I forwarded in an article published in n+1 at times, American Literature at others. As explained to the audience attending my talk, in the article I argued something about planes falling from the sky...

Become a Fan

Recent Comments