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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Deconstructing the Hero

Summary

Obviously, if you're going to be doing something new, then to a degree you're destroying – [Laughs] – whatever preceded it.

Alan Moore

But by my love and hope I beseech you: Do not throw away the hero in your soul! Hold holy your highest hope!

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Our identities as individuals and as groups are shaped, in ways both subtle and profound, by our heroes. If our enemies (and the other “villains” in our psychic narratives) help give us a sense of who we are not, of what we stand against, then, conversely, our heroes help tell us who we are, what we stand for. Indeed, as Heidegger recognized, the heroes we choose focus our sense of what is most important in life, shaping our feel for which battles we should fight as well as how we should go about fighting them. Thus, those who chose Martin Luther King Jr. as their hero, for example, pursued very different goals, and pursued them in a very different manner, than those who heroized Adolf Hitler. Despite the obvious differences, however, in both cases the chosen hero functioned like a mirror, reflecting back to the group an idealized image of itself, an ideal concentrated and so given an almost superhuman form.

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Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity
  • Online ISBN: 9780511976605
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511976605
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