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[livejournal.com profile] qamar posted recently on Creativity and Education, as a followup to a 20-minute talk by an academic from TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.)

She opened with "All children are born artists. We don't grow into creativity, we're educated out of it." Which prompted a response by [livejournal.com profile] morgan303 in the comments and on her own journal - the full contents of which are behind the cut:

It's Not A Hobby. It's A Life. )

The word 'artist' (like the word 'hero' and a great many other things) has no currency any more, and we're poorer as a culture for that lack of respect. I don't say that because of how I make a living, I say it because it's obvious enough that I can draw you a flow chart on the subject.

A world in which nothing is respected means nothing is taboo.

A world in which nothing is taboo means it's a world in which nothing is sacred.

Living in a world without anything sacred means we never raise our heads.

All of which is an excuse for me to post this: the afterword to Christian Read's The Witch King, which I wrote back in 2005:


Nowadays the word ‘hero’ is practically devoid of meaning. You’re a hero if you save a baby from a burning building; you’re a hero if you get paid six figures to kick a ball in the right direction; you’re a hero if you accidentally leave the safety off your Steyr and wind up killing yourself and wounding two squadmates. Everyone’s a hero. The word has no worth.

The traditional comic book hero is designed to be your physical, intellectual and moral superior. A Fifties dad. A hair-ruffling G-man. A Bob Dobbs posterchild for steroids and conformity. A superman, for Christ’s sake. All buff, all male, all right, all the time. Hell, villains are more honest with themselves than that.

There’s something else heroes are: artefacts. Spandex-clad yes men were meant for an age when authority was to be trusted. Nowadays such notions become less relevant with each passing broadcast. Give me a King Mob, a John Constantine, a Gavriel, a Spider Jerusalem, a Bogart. Give me someone I’d be glad to buy a beer. Enough of the spin, the easy answers… enough of what we had last week, last month, last year.

People like that don’t walk a line between good and evil. They tourist on either side because they know that line doesn’t really exist. They are people like you and I, in extraordinary situations taking blows, making mistakes, living and dying and doing it with a style born of what I can only call honesty. They both succeed and fail, rise and fall. They are full of contrast, and therein lies their depth. When someone like that decides to do something you see the mechanism of that decision churning beneath their skin. They are real as you are real.

I believe the best anti-heroes know themselves, if only unconsciously. No matter how bad things get, no matter what or who they lose, they always have that one thing in themselves they can trust. Be it a black humour that sees them through, gleeful smarts or, as in Gavriel’s case, the quiet certainty that they have been underestimated. It is the immovable object they brace against when faced with an unstoppable force.

Which quite often results in them getting flattened. But, like Coyote of American Indian legend, they just as often pick themselves up afterwards, dust themselves off, and keep on walking… into whatever comes next. Their survival is their defiance. It is truth to self that keeps them going.

If you’ve ever kicked against the pricks, ever fought for the right to become the person you are, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about, and what this book is talking about. You can look into the eyes of these characters and see the writer looking back at you.

“Hate is nothing more than a sign that people are threatened by whatever you are,” Gavriel tells his brother.

The social mindset that has made the word ‘hero’ worthless is precisely what makes our anti-heroes so valuable: they’re not normal. They show us another, more intuitive, prouder way.

We must pay a price for them and we must pay a price to be them.


Cameron Rogers. October 4th, 2005. Melbourne.



EDIT 1/8/08: Updated with text of 303's post.

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