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Fruits of My Labor
February 22, 2008 - 1:28pm


My sincere thanks to everyone who’s visited any or all of the three rings of this week’s Churm circus. The contest entries are great, and I appreciate every comment and e-mail. Why didn’t somebody tell me coming out from behind the mask of pseudonymity would be this much fun? Last night I ran across one person I’d written about long ago in a dispatch, and she scowled and barely spoke. On the other hand, the daughter of a very nice Chair of another department of English, whom I’d once mentioned, wrote me a delightful note just to say hello and thanks.

Then there was this guy, who wrote me an e-mail responding to our comment exchange at LitPark:

So what about Aquaman? I have always considered him…more of a loner, more of a "Batman" type. He lives where others don't; his closest allies cannot communicate with any other hominid. He had to fly with Wonder Woman – humiliating, wouldn't it be, for a superhero to be so dependent on another, and to be paired (triaded?) with the "Wonder Twins" for such degradation? Add to this that Aquaman had his own main squeeze(s), which I think was unusual for members of the J. League…how uncomfortable for him to be aloft with the buxom Amazonian, stranded high above the seat of his powers. His wife's death, and his strained relationship (as I understand it to be) with his son, only intensifies what I sense to be a portrait of a man estranged against himself as well as the rest of the world.

Aquaman is a king, and with that status goes a noblesse oblige , an aristocratic self-separation from a society that depends on his guidance and support but in which he cannot fully immerse himself, if I may be allowed the figure of speech. It only makes sense to me that he would be taciturn—briny, crustaceous, submerged within himself as well as in his environment. He is more of an enigma than most of the other superheroes, most closely aligned, in my view, with the Silver Surfer, who—unlike Superman—never adopted his new world but just decided to protect it as a resident alien. Aquaman, too, is alien, but an alien on his home planet. I think I'm going to cry.

Thank you, Dan. Meeting you is reward enough for revealing my real name. Also, you scare me a little.

Finally, I was interviewed two other places this week, covering much of the same ground for different audiences. Thanks so much to Chris Maier at Smile Politely, and to UIUC's College of LAS Office of Communications and Marketing. I’m told the piece on me is second in hits only to an article on happiness. At least I’m way ahead of “Argentine Ants Devour and Conquer.”


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