On my other blog, Lucky Otter’s Haven, I used a Superman meme showing Christopher Reeve as “Superman” from the movie — his red cape flowing in the wind as he looked over the ant-like humans far below, as he declared, “…and I’m in awe. I’m in such awe of you, all of you.”
I was curious about what this quote referred to, so as I do with a lot of things these days (thank God for the Internet), I consulted Google.
What I found immediately struck me as apropos for this blog because to me, in this comic, Superman serves as a metaphor for a narcissistic (or any person otherwise disconnected from the Self) individual dawning into self-awareness and personal transformation (even though Superman is not a narcissist and has plenty of empathy). The superpowers and red cape represent the Ego, or the False Self, meant to set him above everyone else (and in his case, they really do set him apart). These trappings turn him into a fantasy creature. But his difference–his superiority–has a downside. It makes him feel empty and lonely inside.
In this strip, Superman has lost his powers (narcissistic crisis), and as his True Self (Clark Kent) he realizes what it feels like to be cold, alone, and vulnerable. He reflects about his feelings of emotional distance and difference from others. He looks upon the human race (denying that he is in fact one of them), in all their frailty, smallness, and vulnerability, and realizes that in spite of these drawbacks, he’s in awe of them — their ability to survive and even thrive in spite of their fragility, and (although it’s not said here) probably their ability to connect with, support, and love one another as well. Superman’s awe is tinged with envy, but what he doesn’t realize is he is one of them too. He could have pitied them, but no: instead, he’s in awe of them because he realizes their vulnerability is actually their greatest strength. For some reason, I found this incredibly moving.