24 December 2022

Identities, identities ...

 A diverting piece by Ben Macintyre in The Times last week informed us that Superman is Jewish. His Creators were a couple of Hebrew immigrants into North America (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), members of the Huddled Masses. Superman's own name, Clark Kent, is indeed exactly the sort of name often chosen by Jewish immigrants when they wished to elide their former identities.

The suggestion has been made that Superman's iconographical identity should be semitised. I heartily concur. There are far too many WASPs around. A prequel portraying his Bar Mitzvah would also be in order. Is it true that his uncle was a rabbi? Ashkenazi or Sephardim?

How wonderfully varied American society is. I heard the other day that somebody visited Washington DC and returned with an account of how, in that great city, there are loads of sad old gents stumbling around mumbling "I'm Irish, y'know".

Can anybody supply verification of this?

A very happy Christmass to all my readers. And a prosperous New Year.

And a Thank You to all who have sent me cards.


Expeditus said...

In his Gifford lectures Tom Wright mentions attending a Jewish ceremony that was more Bar than Mitzvah!

frjustin said...

@Expeditus: at least it wasn't more Bat than Mitzvah! (for a daughter)

Arthur H said...

Merry Christmass to you and yours, Father!
In the North Country, the blizzard is on, windchill of -15F, and while we here in Carthage have dodged the lake effect machine so far, the forecast is for it to settle over us, out of the west off Lake Ontario, and dump 3 feet/meters/metres of snow over the next day. No problem with my old 10 horse snowblower, but you have to get out there every few hours to keep ahead of it.

Getting around is no problem in my 4WD F150, and I keep a strap, shovel, etc. behind the seat for pulling people out of the ditch. If we get socked in and the roads are impassable by the time of Midnight Mass (10PM), I'll strap on the snowshoes and head over to church. Luckily, Father Pastor lives in the rectory attached to the church.

In the north country, the joke is, when you move here, or are born here, you don't sign up just to know everybody's business and have them know yours, but to be related! If you aren't part of the hearty bunch, then you probably won't stay.

armyarty said...

No, Superman is not Jewish. He is the "other" The unattainable. Clean cut, strong. In fact, not really human at all. Certainly not Jewish. He does not hustle for a living.

Superman is the embodiment of what White, Protestant America projected, and which Jews, like everyone else on the planet, admired. Chastity, patriotism, strength, all with modesty, and a smile.

Sadly, modern depictions of Superman are much less in the Greco-Roman ideal, at least in his phallic attributes, which are now comically exaggerated.

At least he seems to have escaped the decent into sado-masochism a la Batman and Robin. But I am well out of date on my comic book knowledge. Maybe he has.

But, yes- he is the product of two talented young Jewish men, viewing the world around them, and what it once admired.

Grant Milburn said...

Nietsche: conceives the Űbermensch or Superman in terms antithetical to Christianity as he understands it.

Nazis: develop the concept in a ruthless antisemitic direction.

Across the Atlantic, in the 30's, even as the Nazi menace grows, two young Jews redeem the concept by imagining an Űbermensch who is still a Mensch, a Superman who is brave, modest, chivalrous and kind, in a manner reminiscent of Arthurian romance in which heroic and Christian ideals are fused.

Thus is born the fashion for superheroes, which continues to this day, producing works sometimes wonderful, sometimes dismal.

Kent's real name, Kal-El certainly sounds Hebrew, although ostensibly coming from an alien planet. El, of course means God, as in so many well-known names, Mi-Cha-El, Who-Like-God, Jo-El, The LORD is God.

armyarty said...

Old gents telling you that they are Irish?

Sounds like the H.A.C. Mess at Armory House in London.

DCLAw said...

Former denizens (or descendants) of the eminent Matt Kane's News Room and Bit of Ireland, now you can find them towards the back of Kelly's Irish Times, hardly ever the Dubliner.