This week I read a little more of a book called Do the Gods Wear Capes? by Ben Saunders, an English professor at University of Oregon. Saunders’ basic premise is that comic books, far from being mere entertainment, or perhaps because they are entertainment are a good way of exploring moral and ethical questions. Comic books embody a certain religious ideal that in older times would have been occupied by campfire stories or even religious stories. Sometimes parables, sometimes just stories for fun, but they always include godlike characters. The difference between what is and what we desire is the driving force, according to Saunders, of all storytelling, philosophy, and religion. Superheroes, with their rather blind ethical sense (in the era that he profiles) have a lot in common with gods, more than in just the powers available to them.
In which I say I’m going to keep a regular schedule…
I am finally getting an idea of what blogging is supposed to be about, particularly because I noticed that I get the most reads on days when I publish a post. So I will start keeping a regular schedule and write at least one post a week on Friday. I used to be really puzzled and irritated by people who apologized for missing their scheduled blog posts, as if the whole internet is hanging on every word of this person I’ve never heard of. I would think “go ahead, don’t blog for a week, I won’t miss it.” But now that I notice why people should keep a regular schedule, I will try it.
What does Sauron really mean for Middle Earth? What does Voldemort want?
I was browsing the Youtube Channel Write About Dragons the other day, and came across Brandon Sanderson discussing villains. At the beginning of the discussion he mentions a problem that has plagued me since I was a child, and more as I’ve read fantasy as an adult: what do villains want? It’s easy to understand villains with short-term motivation, like robbing a bank and flying to Venezuela, or getting revenge, but what’s hard to understand are creatures like Sauron, Robert Jordan’s Dark One, and Emperor Palpatine. Jordan actually deals with this question in the later Wheel of Time books, and especially (in collaboration with Sanderson) in the final showdown between Rand and The Dark One. Palpatine is easy to understand as a dictator, who uses political power as a cover for making himself a kind of living god. The problem does remain: what does a wrinkled old man want? Food? Sex? Yuck. What could Sauron possibly be going for when he doesn’t even have a body other than the power to gloat and watch Hobbits suffer? Continue reading “In Defense of Villains”