tearonthefire: (me)
[personal profile] tearonthefire
Why do I always ruin my 'super hero archetype' characters with deeply complex flaws that usually end up with me writing them into a nervous breakdown that would make any normal person stop trusting them with their lives.

I want to make my characters believable, yes but I think there's another reason, a deeply woven psychological condition I hold. I think that it must cost someone to do the right thing and the more righteous that things is, the more painful it should be. Like having to choose between the love of your life and a bus full of innocent children.

New aged fairytales, and the retelling of old aged ones, try to tell us that doing the right thing always feels good. That telling the truth feels better than living with a lie. But in practice that's never the case. When you tell the truth, you're usually punished. When you do something noble like fight for your friends 'in the fox hole next to you', you're left to fend for yourself by your government. If you remove an abused child from their situation, you're charged with custodial interference. Even thirteen years after the world trade centre attack, those that were injured and/or got sick while risking their lives to help others still aren’t getting any real medical support.

Hell, I've heard of cases where someone's been sued for saving someone else's life. But something persists in humans, something deeply programed into our genes that force us to sacrifice our own comfort and well being for others. Most people would not sacrifice their own three year old child to save two or three other three year olds from drowning but there are some who would weigh the situation in their heads and take that split second decision to hate themselves for the rest of their lives and let the many out weigh their one. But again it's rare and no one can really blame someone for valuing their own kin over someone else's.

I really don't want to get into a self debate about this whole thing, especially when I thought this brain belch would be a couple of lines at most but I think it's not much of a leap to consider someone who is completely self sacrificing for others to have some kind of metal disorder that would manifest itself in other ways. And of course I think life is utterly unfair, so those people would have to be perpetually punished for their sacrifices.

I feel an unexplainable need to make my super characters sad, to hurt in place of everyone that they save. My new character is the epitome of this, she's a military officer who's also a Jainist. Jains are basically Buddhists on cerebral overload. They take the philosophy of non-violence to an unbelievable extreme, they wear masks over their mouths to stop themselves from accidentally swallowing a bug and they morn the regrettable need of harming mico-life while pulling a carrot out of the ground.

My character justifies her need to kill another being by comforting herself with the thought that she's saving hundreds of others by doing so. But as she's in a war where the casualties are high and the defining line of innocents and guilt is blurred, she starts to develop an intense psychosis. Although she has no inclination to believe in anything supernatural, she develops a duality whereby she believes that she is the avatar of Kali, the Hindi goddess of death, and that her actions to take a life are forced and not by her own choosing.

This culminates when she's faces with the decision to kill someone who is at that moment innocent but may become a violent serial killer in the near future because of a genetic metal disorder. Further more she has to either spare the person's mother from killing that person, by killing them herself, let the mother commit suicide because she's unwilling to kill her child, or let the mother kill them. My character of course can't bring herself to let any of those things happen because at heart she's still a Jain and does what she does to protect the greater good but it also breaks her thin veneer of transferring her responsibility to a construct. While she's been fairly miserable throughout the storylines, at that point she feels the complete weight of her guilt and snaps, tumbling into a psychotic breakdown. Not one where she kills everyone, which is the common trope, but where she protects everyone and has to be talked down from holding everyone hostage so that they wont hurt themselves.

Sigh, maybe I should write less and get a better sex life. And shut up! The sub-title's funny.

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tearonthefire

February 2014

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