Never bought a comic

As a child, I never bought or read a comic and I have continued this abstinence into adulthood (to the extent I have reached that state).  I have not even essayed a graphic novel.  I do not believe this makes me better than you (though obviously I do believe this for other reasons), it is probably just something path-dependent and I have clearly not prioritised overcoming my upbringing (or natural inclination) in this area (and given that things I have prioritised can still remain undone after two decades, I fear my lifespan may have to be quite extensive before I make good my lack).

Despite my brain offering this rather unpromising soil, once again I find the seed of a screen superhero has germinated (and even flourished) there.  Perhaps I should move my first assailing of the comic or graphic novel further up my entirely fictional “to-do” list?  This latest blight on the previously pristine intellectual green-belt which occupies the space between my ears (and if you believe that, frankly you aren’t safe to be using the internet unsupervised) has been the Netflix production of Daredevil.  I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to give it a whirl, other than its availability and newness – perhaps residual positive feelings for Charlie Cox from his appearance in Stardust?  I may be the master of my fate and captain of my soul (to paraphrase W E Henley), but frankly my motivations are frequently a mystery to me – someone in “here” may have free will, I’m just not entirely convinced it’s me.

Suffice to say, Daredevil is really very good indeed (well worth several months of my Netflix subscription) – despite its rather unpromising appearance: a Marvel superhero, very dark (both in theme and lighting) and really quite violent – all of which I like to imagine don’t appeal to me.

Daredevil is an odd superhero in that his only superpower(s) are just a replacement for quite ordinary powers that even I possess, viz eyesight (in my case, augmented with some help from my glasses).  The enhancement of his other senses is, I believe, even something that has been known to happen in the real world through the natural plasticity of our brains.  In fact, despite the fact that I view my hearing as pretty useless – it is of little help when trying to find a ringing mobile phone in my very modestly-proportioned flat and is certainly not worth any investment in expensive audiophile equipment – my ears can boast a very modest superpower of their own.  As a frequent cyclist, I find I can often identify a motorist behind me about to engage in a manoeuvre which may place me at risk purely from the input to my ears – a skill which has proved very useful on a number of occasions.  So, unusually for a superhero, one’s belief does not need to be suspended very far.

Belief is further supported by the fact that our hero frequently takes a major beating and takes quite a long time to recover – in one episode, he spends most of it hobbling very uncomfortably around his apartment (an experience which the middle-aged gentleman gymnast can sympathise with).  This does mean he requires a fair amount of medical care and so we see quite a lot of Charlie Cox’s bare torso covered in pretend wounds, contusions and stitches and I suspect this has not just caused the character pain, but the poor actor as well.  Based on his stubble and forearms, I would guess that Mr Cox has much in common with Esau (and I don’t mean a pair of Hittite brides and issues with his brother).  As a result, the poor chap’s chest must regularly have to be waxed to within a millimetre of its life – and I can’t help but wince in sympathy.  I’m afraid that neither vanity nor my desire to support a charitable cause would be sufficient to make me wax any part of my (relatively) modestly hirsute body (though the stray hair that collects around the flat would suggest that I am in fact a gorilla) – a disinclination to pain which also effectively rules out cosmetic surgery (well, that and a distrust of doctors with knives).  So ladies and gents, what you see is what you get with the author – nothing has been artificially enhanced beyond the occasional application of moisturiser.  As a result, when the dating strand of GofaDM kicks-off potential partners are advised to follow my own principle and avoid the use of glasses or contact lenses when gazing directly at the son (of my parents).

Given its almost thirteen hours of running time, the series offers a much broader spectrum of well-rounded characters than typical superhero fare and the added bonus of a decent script.  Even the villain has nuance and in some ways an admirable agenda, though as a follower of Kant (among others) I could tell he was a wrong ‘un (using people as the means to an end is never a good sign).  I suspect I may be in a minority in viewing the series through the lens of Kantian philosophy – or perhaps not?

In the comments section of a webpage, you know that things have gone too far when a comparison to National Socialism is made.  In GofaDM, I feel the equivalent is when I start talking about philosophy – and that seems to have begun.  So, I shall merely recommend Daredevil for your consideration – and, in its support, should perhaps mention much better critics than I have reviewed it positively and it also has the dubious honour of being the most pirated show other than Game of Thrones (despite its dramatically lower levels of both soft porn and dragons).

Where’s Tufty?

I know what you’re thinking – well, obviously I don’t (and wouldn’t it be disturbing if I did?), unless it’s “Doesn’t he have something better to do with his time?”, but I know what I’d be thinking if I were you – does the world really need a series of books in which the viewer tries to find a myopic squirrel, wearing a stripy jumper and bobble hat, in a crowded scene?  Whilst I don’t know the answer to this question, I am concerned that I would be transgressing the intellectual property rights of at least one person (either corporeal or corporate) should I go ahead.  Lacking the funding for the legal protection of a super-injunction, this blog will try to steer clear of such obvious plagiarism.

When I was a nipper, the teaching of road safety was entrusted to the paws of Tufty the squirrel and his woodland pals.  After all this time, I don’t recall if Tufty was a red or grey squirrel, but given the amount of my childhood which was in black and white, I suspect he may have been grey (whatever his species)  We are, of course, going a long way back – in those far off days, there were only three TV stations and days in the week and the human eye had yet to develop cones.

Tufty – who was a bit goody-goody for my taste – was very keen that we should find a gap in the parked cars (which in those days, did not require many miles of hiking) and look right and left and right again before we stepped out into the road (I think he was probably also quite keen that if we saw an oncoming vehicle whilst looking, then we should wait rather than stepping out regardless).  Squirrels, however careful they are with the traffic, have but a limited time upon the earth and I think Tufty was later replaced by Darth Vader (if nothing else, definitely not too goody-goody – and a man you’d think twice before crossing (a principle which should also be applied to roads)).

I was reminded of Tufty, and my early road safety training, by the tendency of pedestrians in Cambridge to walk out into the road without looking at all.  Indeed, they often seem to walk down the middle of the road without an apparent care in the world, spurning the empty footpaths provided for their benefit.  I have wondered if they hail from foreign climes where wheeled transport is unknown (though this must be in ever diminishing portions of our crowded planet) – but have had to reject this theory.  Even rabbits – not known for their intellectual prowess – have sufficient wherewithal to get out of the way of an oncoming bicycle or motorised conveyance (even if they are not always successful). Having recently listened to an episode of  “In Our Time” on the subject of free will and the nature of determinism (not helped by quantum theory, I’m afraid) I wonder if the denizens of East Anglia have been gripped by a sense of fatalism.  If everything has been determined, and there is no free will, then why apply even basic common sense when crossing the road?

Whilst I find determinism very persuasive, I think I am a compatibilist and so will continue applying such basic common sense (the least common of all the senses) as I possess to my everyday activities in the fond hope of prolonging the suffering of these reading this blog.