the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


A Hero’s Journey: Superman & the Ordeal

Challenges & Temptations revisited: the Ordeal

Challenges & Temptations revisited: the Ordeal

I will admit this selection is probably not an obvious one.  This scene from Superman III is near the middle of the movie, and is not especially set up well for a Monomyth interpretation by other story elements.   I think it is easier to understand, however, from the ideas explored in the previous movies.

Juxtaposed images of Superman and Clark Kent

Juxtaposed images of Superman and Clark Kent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The original challenge and temptation was the love of Lois Lane.  In both her discovery of his identity and his decision to become mortal as she, it was a Refusal of the Call of sorts.  Although his return to the Fortress of Solitude (see Superman & the At-One-Ment With the Father) led to atonement with Jor-El, Kal-El was not fully reconciled with his dual roles as Superman and Clark Kent.  Having failed the original challenge, another Ordeal was required.

The junk yard fight had a physical element: a human-synthesized kryptonite did not weaken him in the same way as the true fragments of his home world.  Instead, it left him vulnerable to mortal vice.  Perhaps this is one element why Superman has been compared to Christ: Kal-El had not fully experienced mortality until briefly succumbing to its fallibilities and shortcomings.  And it is not Superman who triumphs, but Clark Kent, who subsumes him; and then the Transformation is complete, as Kal-El is fully ready to be champion of the people of Earth.

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JJQ #33 Your Fortress of Solitude

As seen at the VOX Journal Jar In Exile. Please come and visit us. We’d also be pleased to have you participate.

My answer is here instead of there because I think it’s of a more personal nature.

Did you have a childhood hide-out? Where? Describe it.

I don’t think I really had a hide-out, per se.  I’ve always been a loner of sorts, and so my alone time was not always confined to just one space.  My “Fortress of Solitude” was my bedroom, really, and to a lesser extent, much of the downstairs rooms in the old California split house.  For a time, it was known to be neater and tidier than any other room in the house.  I was so obsessive that I would make my bedsheets so tight you could bounce a quarter on them, even with blankets and bedcovers, somewhat.  One of the covers was a quilt that had remained in excellent condition since I was a baby.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to go back to that house someday and find that the tie rack was still mounted in the closet.

Some things moved in and out of that room.  The weight bench and weight set my father used for a brief time came in.  I wanted him to do more of it with me after he got me started, but I lifted alone.  My stereo system moved out to the den in later years when I wanted better sound from the TV (but the set didn’t have stereo ouputs).

The “lesser extent” included the downstairs bathroom, which was decorated and furnished to my tastes.  Sometimes I camped out with a sleeping bag in the room because it was the darkest spot in the house to take a nap.  It also included the utility room, where the family dog stayed for many years, as well as the clothes washer and dryer.  I had been taught to do my own laundry, so I suppose it was a natural extension.  I mentioned the den, which as I said, became a new home for my sound system (home sound was a small hobby of mine) and it also was where the family computer was located.  Naturally, the computer was another place to escape, which worried my folks to no end– I think the only other family member that used it much was the middle child of my three younger sisters.

The neat freaking deteriorated a bit and I got a little slobby, I think because I realized that no matter how neat and tidy things were, the abuse and emotional incest didn’t stop.  The family dog moved to a pillow bed upstairs.  No one at that time really cared about my computer or sound system hobbies.  Tensions increased.

Although my college and university years were bumpy and involved four different institutions, the process of moving out began.  My baby sister moved in at times, but left most everything untouched (too afraid to dare change anything).  After I started university, I was pushed to take summer courses– most likely so I’d maintain residence there.  But after a year there, I got married, so it became a moot point to go anywhere else until I graduated.

My parents eventually decided to downsize to a smaller house and thus this chapter was more or less permanently closed, save in memory.