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Man of Steel

man of steel
A note on the relation between power & the human being

The few who see Superman throughout the story seem to agree he indeed cannot become known, or else mankind will change. This would seem to confirm what his father said of him – for humans, he would be a god – though, not among his own kind, apparently. What do Kryptonians know about people & gods to make him think that? Apparently, that they could not hurt him. They must then fear him. There can be no political association between them, there being no equality or mutuality.

Why doesn’t anyone think maybe Superman can be our friend? He is not like us, but he never need harm us, so we might share in whatever good things can be shared. But what good thing could come to Superman from humans that he cannot acquire by himself? – Would people be inclined to worship Superman? Is that how he could become known to us, as a mysterious god?

We must learn something about the origins of Superman. He is & is not a product of Krypton. He is the only son of Krypton, born of man & woman, but also in some sense charged with all future Kryptonians. But he is not made to serve Krypton: Krypton is a perfect planet. Justice requires that men do those things for which they are fit, those things which they can do well, because doing is properly speaking doing well. So on Krypton all children are designed for a specific job, for which they are perfect.

This is a scientific imperative, specialization. Krypton has the power of which human beings dream. But Krypton self-destructed. The end of Krypton reveals the difficulties of rationality in politics. Enlightenment, the application of scientific reason to nature & to human affairs, eventually destroys the planet, as if the ground of human life – both life & non-life – cannot bear the weight civilization places on it. Maybe science eventually mutilates or destroys all wholes.

The political rulers, a council of elders, disagree with their younger friend, the scientist. Krypton is apparently an aristocratic republic, or a tyranny of the wise. The scientist & the young general alone foresee & want to act to prevent the destruction of the race. The scientist will not destroy the council. The general sees that this means he will let the council destroy the planet & the race.

There is a deceptious scene, where Superman’s father, a scientist, defeats a general in combat, then is killed by deception. Maybe the art of war can never dispense with killing. Why should the general want to kill some Kryptonians? Why should he want to murder humans? Why is murder the path to perfection? You can trust people to act in fear…

A very impressive story. Go see it.