Ayn Rand’s Favorite Child Murderer

Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer.  (The whole essay linked is well worth reading; this blog post only contains the barest summary of it.)

Ayn Rand was obsessed with a serial murderer named William Hickman, and based a hero in one of her early novels on him.  She thought of him as a noble rebel against a pathetic and mediocre society.  In praising her Hickman-inspired hero, she described what we now call “sociopathy” or “psychopathy” succinctly:

[He]is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.

Hickman kidnapped a banker’s child and held her for ransom, taunting the family with awful ransom notes; he managed to rig her mutilated corpse to appear to be sitting up and alive in the car next to him when he picked up the ransom, and he sped off and pushed the corpse out the passenger door when he was given the money by the father.

This was the sort of person who Ayn Rand admired.

American conservatives, particularly Alan Greenspan, the man who has been in charge of our economy for the last couple decades or so, admire Ayn Rand and what she stood for (with the exception, for many of them, of her contemptuous atheism).

Is it any wonder America’s economy is in a state of apocalypse?  The ideology followed by the best and the brightest in the world of finance is that of an unrepentant Raskolnikov turned cult-leader.

But maybe I’m too kind in blaming it on Ayn Rand.  This sort of thing went down in the 19th and early 20th centuries as well, without her help.  Perhaps unrestrained capitalism has always been a playground for the sort of personalities who are admired and encouraged by the same people who admire and encourage those who abduct, murder, and dismember children.

(via a comment in Kung Fu Monkey, via Terminal Velocity)

Flex Mentallo vs. Watchmen: Bet On The Muscles

A few months ago I happened upon a torrent of the comic _Flex Mentallo_ by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It’s a mixed-up, trippy, postmodern superhero fable, twisted and kind of beautiful.  I enjoyed it.

Not until reading this essay did I consider that it is also a kind of rebuttal of Watchmen, the Dark Knight, and all such Dark, Gritty Superhero Comics.

As Comics for Serious quotes:

“Only a bitter little adolescent boy could confuse realism with pessimism.”

-The Hoaxer

I dig Watchmen, I do.  I’m gonna have to go see that movie, despite the fact that I virtually never see any movies.  But in the back of my mind is going to be Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery.

The thing about Flex Mentallo is that acknowledges all the cynicism, it faces it squarely — reading the endnotes in issues 2 and 4 gives as a history of the fictional Flex Mentallo comic as cynical and messed up as anyone could possibly come up with — and it walks straight through it with a smile on its face and hope in its heart, to the other side.

I’m actually not a huge comics dude.  I probably know multiple people who have literally read hundreds or thousands of times more comics than I have.  I haven’t ever written or drawn my own superhero comics, in the main, but I have come up with many superheroes, because one of the roleplaying games I played a lot as a kid was Villains and Vigilantes, one of the earliest superhero RPGs.  And reading Flex Mentallo, and watching it name-drop dozens and dozens of nonce superheroes, gave me that feeling of the excitement of coming up with characters and villains for V&V and Champions back in the day.  There’s something special there, some kind of magic creating them.

I’m thinking of the self-consciously cheesy/retro game Jim and I ran in college, my character Phantom Fighter with the ability to phase out like Kitty Pride, and his martial arts telescoping staff/nunchuks…  The Villainous Doctor Crime…  and back much earlier, when I was in high school, maybe even middle school, my brother’s streetwise martial artist, Archangel ….  I remember getting out How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way from the library, and drawing endless heroes, animal-powered, semi-robotic, flying, diving, armored, armed, magical, mutant, scientific, alien, interdimensional….  All that stuff came back to me reading Flex Mentallo.

Maybe it’s the traces of fever I think I still am running today.  Or maybe there’s really something there.