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Essay: On Superpowers - A Recovering Physicist's Apology

About Essay: On Superpowers

Previous Entry Essay: On Superpowers Jun. 1st, 2006 @ 08:26 pm Next Entry
Another of my essays fresh from the maddness of my mind.  This one is a long standing theory of mine dating back to my Bright College Days.

We all have superpowers.  They are, in all likelihood, not particularly useful, at least on the surface of things.  Yet we should not deny that we have them.  One of my superpowers, for example, is the ability to bleed easily via the nose.  You see?  It is not particularly useful; I could not fight crime this way.  Nor is my power particularly glamorous or sexy; like say being able to fly.  I bleed, through the nose.  I am sure all of us bleed from the nose, from time to time, but I do it with such startling proficiency and regularity that how can I not deem it a superpower?  It is mine.  It is my responsibility and my burden to carry.

What we have forgotten in our ho-hum dum-drum lives is just how remarkable our ho-hum dum-drum lives really are.  We experience superpowers every day and don’t even take the time to acknowledge this remarkable fact.  We have been tainted by comic books and movies to not see the real superpowers all around us.  I have a friend that can literally fall asleep anywhere, is that not as remarkable as the ability to bend steal girders bare handed?  It is certainly more useful.  How many times have you been someplace that you just needed to fall asleep?  Now how many times have you needed to bend a steal girder with your bare hands?  See, falling asleep is far more useful in the real world.  Yet given the choice between the two superpowers, I would expect most people would think that the super strength was a better superpower than super falling asleep. 

One of my friend’s superpowers is he can detect cut peppers at extreme distances.  Compare this observational prowess against those of the “Greatest Detective in the World,” Batman, and Batman wins hands down.  Sure Batman has the ability to solve any riddle no matter how dubious and dastardly, but I don’t like peppers that much so my friend’s power makes perfect sense to me.  That is the remarkable thing about superpowers, they help friendships.  I don’t like peppers; my friend can detect them.  That is a wonderful alliance.  We are our own Justice League: only we fight for culinary purity rather than law and order.  But is one somehow more noble then the next?  Probably not.  One has just been beaten into us that the pursuit of justice is more sacred than the pursuit of knowing if there are cut peppers.  Once you know your friends powers, you can deepen your appreciation of them and their unique talents.  This only strengthens your group of Avengers, Teen Titans, or X-Men.

Another friend has the ability to attract large quantities of lint on his clothes in the washing machine.  Certainly Magnito’s manipulation over the electromagnetic force is a far more staggering ability, but in this case it isn’t about staggering it is about suffering.  Isn’t it nice to know that somewhere out there my friend’s clothes are absorbing all the lint so that yours are left relatively unmolested?  Isn’t it nice to know that in all likelihood you only have to deal with normal amounts of lint, while my brave friend toils with super proportions?  I think it is.  Like Buffy dying so that Dawn did not have to, it is nice to know that there are heroes making sacrifices for the innocent.  In the end, isn’t that exactly what separates the superhero from the supervillian?  The hero has power and is willing to sacrifice, the villain is not.

There is a secondary class of superpowers.  These are the powers that have specific effects on the individual.  Just as Venom does not trigger Spider-man’s Spider Sense there are those whose powers shine only in relation to another.  I have a friend that can make me happy even when I am very sad.  Is that not a miraculous power?  Certainly that is as valuable a power as other superpowers out there.  If I am near a volcano when it is about to erupt I need someone with the ability to drown it out using a glacier.  Yet how often have I been around a volcano that was about to erupt?  Don’t get me wrong, we need people out there that can hack off a nearby conical section of mountain and drop it into a volcano to plug the hole, but we also need the more “mundane” powers as well.  When I am feeling sad or isolated I need her friendship and simple smile just as surely as I need the Green Lantern’s quick thinking and magical ring when I am about to die in an eruption. 

Admitting you have a power and figuring it out is important because it helps make you stand out.  You have to let go of your preconceptions about superpowers and not expect super strength or X-ray vision.  You may, at first, even be disappointed with your power.  All waver in their resolve when it comes to our powers.  Spider-man has walked away from his mask more times than can be easily recalled.  Yet he always wall climbed his way back.  Certainly it has to do with his sense of morality, certainly it has to do with his sense of duty, but it most certainly also has to do with the fact that it is an admittance of who Peter Parker is. I could have surgery that would cauterize my nose and leave me powerless.  I could deny my birthright.  Yes, my power is a annoying and slightly off putting, but is that any reason to get rid of it?  To have the surgery and stop my nosebleeds, wouldn’t I be no better than Superman in the Superman III?  When Superman became simply Clark Kent, he lost a part of himself.  When Clark Kent is in the bar and a thug hits him he falls to the ground a weakened bleeding normal human.  I certainly pity him then.  I even partially hate him for abandoning his true self.  If that same thug hit me after my own “normalization” I would no longer bleed.  Yet it would be just as poignant a reminder of all I had lost.

Go out there and find your superpower.  But, above all, remember to use it for good, not evil.


Mood Data: sleepy100%WishingMyPowerWasSleeping
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From:djstomp
Date:June 1st, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC)
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But now from the shadows strides a new breed of superhero... and a new front in the battle against mundanity!
Narcoleptor!
Capsico!
Lint Man!
and the Bleeder!
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From:obie_in_exile
Date:June 2nd, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
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here here! i raise my glass of not vintage wine but of simple orange juice to the mundane super powers i know and treasure.
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