Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 22:22:17 -0400
Subject: Re: HEROES, DEMISE, (AND IS IT BRAVERY IN DEM EYES?)...
Straight from the better (extremely) late than never department..... :)
It's interesting, your comments on the fear people have of mortality and the need for our heroes to have immortality. Similar thoughts have gone through my mind the last few months, first with the death of my grandfather in February, and now last week with the death of another close relative. Here's something I wrote back in February:
You die. Someone dies, and everybody else scrambles about, filling one role or another. Meanwhile the dead one is just lying there, a non-entity. Their body becomes a mask, and once that's gone...
"So, death. You know, death isn't about Heaven. No guy with a scythe or girl with an ankh or any of that. I mean, forget what happens to them--they're dead. I'm talking about us. For us, we the living, death is just . . . absence. It's a hole in the ground or wall or anything. It's a lack of presence . . . more than lack, it is a non-presence. Because the person you know is gone. It's not a fishing trip or re-assignment or jail sentence . . . and nothing . . . is all you're left with.
Not true. They say--they being those omnipotent sages that wrote the unwritten book on life, the universe, and everything--that if you remember someone, they're not really dead. This, of course, fuels the fire for all the freaks and lunatics who just can't let go or, at the very least, forces one to acknowledge the validity of the fact that Elvis is truly alive.
(I wonder, what will happen in another 20 years or so when Elvis will be past his rational time span and there could be no real excuse to believe in his clandestine existence. Once even the generation that lobbies for his immortality have passed on. What then? When Elvis becomes synonymous with Beethoven and Mozart. No absence there. No, Elvis lives, still, and probably always...)
As always, your insights about V are fascinating. I think I'm still trying to get my brain around your ideas regarding Delia and Finch and V. I do agree, V would indeed make a lousy friend. :) And I agree, I don't think V would willingly give his life for just one person . . . but by the same token I don't think we should make the mistake of saying V would never sacrifice himself for anyone. If anything, V was willing to die for EVERYONE (can you say Christ-figure?)
After all, if you look at V's philosophy, the IDEA is always more important than the BODY. That lesson is so central to V's way of thinking he had to torture Evey to understand it--I don't think anyone could ever understand the concept for real unless they're in such a position. One must be willing to die for Ideas, to admit that their body, their life isn't important. (Ironic, since V seemed to be so pro-individual, and yet, like Susan, we would be willing to sacrifice much so the needs of the many could be met.)
(These ideas are being formed as they're written, so forgive me if they seem incomplete.)
Delia, and Finch . . . Finch is an odd one. He forces his own artificial (literally, as he injected LSD in order to achieve it . . . but wasn't V's transformation drug induced as well?) I think Finch is you're Everyman, at least in V's world. Finch manages to break free of the prison of his life, but I don't know if killing V was necessary for him to do so . . . no, I take that back. You're right, he did have to kill V, and it did help him take that last, necessary step to leave his prison. But, again, we must ask ourselves: did V really die? "You can't kill ideas. Ideas are bulletproof." V, the person who first was V, died, yes. But his ideas live on, and Evey picks up the mantle s the physical embodiment of those ideas live on.
(Gee, could you say that V was just the physical host for a sentient Viewpoint that, like some sort of symbiotic vampire, travels from host to host, using the body to feed and grow and live, then, once the body has done all it is capable of, the Viewpoint jumps to another body to continue living? Or maybe this one's going just a bit too far... )
But then again, Evey did reach this state. Evey WAS willing to die rather than compromise her ideals. But is that the pre-requisite for facing ones death? True, Delia never seemed to willingly take responsibility for what she had done. . . she should have (perhaps). Hence V died. Finch though, like you said too little too late, did accept what he had done as wrong. But he seems to have internalized that responsibility. He quits. He leaves the old world, the body of the Ear, Nose, and Mouth, the Head . . . and searches for his new direction. Finch has learned, he has changed, he knows the old way, the old world, is no longer the one to be in. Does that mean he has a responsibility to fight for others? Or is he ultimately responsible for just himself?
Again, I think this brings us back to the purpose of V, as a larger than life character. Was his "death"--at least the physical death--heroic? I think that depends on how you view V. If you maintain V knew he had to die so the next step could be taken--one he knew he could not make--then, yes, his death was heroic. He sacrificed himself, the one, for the rest of the world, the many. His life was not as important as the rest.
If you think that V was a manipulative, single-minded madman (which l think, it's safe to say, we both admit that he was) then his death wasn't heroic. It was egotistical--just one more step in his Master Plan that no one could argue with. He was the John Proctor of the late 20th century (though in truth I think Arthur Miller's Proctor was one of the mot noble characters ever written; but I think we can leave a comparison of Vendetta and The Crucible for another time...)
Whew. I think that about covers all your comment on V. Very soon I must look over our total correspondence and start preparing it for my website. You have given me so much to think about regarding Vendetta; I think what we've written can go a long way in prodding other people to give their opinions as well.
As for your closing thoughts on Dark Knight... I think your description of Wayne as a "touchdown runner" is dead on. Miller's version of him was nothing if not relentless, obsessive. He never would quit until he reached his goal. But I think that could be used to describe V as well. Even though Bruce doesn't die and V does, consider this:
Oliver tells Bruce he'd have to be dead for the government to leave him alone. So Bruce "kills" Batman, "a crime fighter whose time has passed" in order to carry on with his greater mission. Same ends, different means. V, realizing _his_ time is done, dies, but lets the symbol, and the ideals, live on in Evey. So though his time is done, his work is still carried on. Same ends, different means.
Hope this was worth the wait. Thanks again for those 1984 quotes. Hope all is well with you otherwise. I look forward to your responses. Hopefully it won't be another two weeks before I can give you mine.