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Daniel Papke Portfolio » The Hero Discussion
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The Hero Discussion

30 April 2008

Part two of the response to Jeremy Tuckers questions:

- Are the ideas of the Hero in society born from the accomplishments of the individual?

In so far as I understand it, yes. And within that idea lies the danger of separating the individual’s actions from the collective whole of a society. This is not to say that actions of an individual necessarily separate that individual from a group, or to say that even if that were the case that it is inherently harmful for ones actions to be perceived as individual, but is meant to alert the reader that within this train of thought lies the road to the belief we can judge one by ones accomplishments without taking into consideration that individuals motives and situation. In other words, we have all accomplished heroic deeds in our lives relative to our situation. My concern is to whom goes the responsibility of deeming an accomplishment societally heroic?

- Is the importance of defining a hero to give strength to the group, where otherwise weakness would disable their function?

In situations that have included a group’s triumph over a difficulty, via the inspiration brought by a specific heroic action or chain of events, this is absolutely true. In all honesty, I believe this is the most beneficial role of a hero. This takes the solitude and alienation of imposed individuality out of the deemed hero and redefines that hero’s role as an important part of the greater good of the whole.

- Could society survive without hope, and could it be that the hero is no longer needed in contemporary society?

I don’t think it’s possible to do anything but survive if you are without hope. Hopelessness breeds stasis.
And to answer the second part of this question is why I took on this concept for an art project. I don’t know the answer, but I would love to find out.

Note:

As a reminder, I have set up this dialog with the hope of encouraging you to join in on the discussion. This blog is set up so that you can post on it as well. As stated, I am not an authority on this topic. I took it on as a concept because I am curious about it. Any input from you would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to post questions, answers, responses, resources, etc. I, and anyone who reads this, await your words.
Thank you.


  1. What defines a hero? Is one person’s or group’s hero another’s anti hero? Does being a hero for a moment bestow the title of hero for a lifetime? If so why or why not? Is there more than one type of hero?

    jeremy tucker May 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm
  2. What defines a hero is one aspect of this project that interests me so much. It seems that the definition is malleable to the need(s) of those defining the hero, which is where my suspicion of the term derives from. As defined in a dictionary sense, see this webpage - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hero.

    And one person’s hero is inevitably someone else’s anti-hero. If for no other reason than the physical world must balance itself with opposites. And, that there is only so much “stuff” in the world. What gives to one takes from another.

    Hero for a lifetime might exist in history books, but rarely, it seems, in one’s own lifetime. When a heroic deed is achieved in one’s youth, it is difficult to associate that deed with the aged, hunched elder before you. Or else the hero is exiled for deeds that once seemed heroic yet later tyrannical. Or else the hero, crushed by his/her social expectations, razes the heroic stamp and runs to a life of normalcy. Or else a million other things, for if there is one constant in life, that constant is change. Nothing lasts forever as it was at one singular point.

    There are at least as many types of heroes as there humans who have a word for hero. And again, this is the reason I question the word’s validity.

    Daniel Papke May 7, 2008 at 11:16 am
  3. referring back to the question- “Could society survive without hope, and could it be that the hero is no longer needed in contemporary society?”

    I believe that survival could be achieved without hope, but only on individual level. Its seems the concept of society would require hope to maintain itself. each individual of the society must have at least the basic hope that the other society members hold the values that provide everyone with a sense of security within the group. if there is no hope within the society as a whole, the individuals cannot trust that the “others” hold their own goals and safety as utmost importance. if all society members live in a state of constant fear, the society will erode. the individual on the other hand can survive without having to place trust on others. though, in the current state of society, most humans could not survive on their own, without society’s packaged food and manufactured shelters.

    the hero is needed in contemporary society. the hero serves the function of inspiring the individual to do more than merely survive. if anything, the hero is needed more in contemporary society than in the past, because for most humans (not all humans) the ability to survive in society has become a thoughtless and effortless problem to solve.

    prior to the industrial revolution, and the advent of processed/packaged food, air conditioning, indoor lighting and sweatshops to make our clothes, humans had a significant daily problem to solve…how to survive. survival was the only goal. merely surviving was so difficult that there wasn’t much time in the day to ponder achieving many other goals. now most basic needs are met by going to the convenience store. we no longer spend 18 hours a day foraging for food. ALL OF NATURES CYCLES HAVE BEEN SUBVERTED. humans can passively survive, and as a side effect of this, its easy to live a life feeling unfulfilled. societies constant striving to make everything in life as fast, easy, and convenient as possible should spur the desire to have more time to pursue other interests, something more than passive survival. instead, our conveniences have bred weakness and apathy.

    the hero does more than just passively survive. as stated previously, the hero is different for everyone. for some, the hero is the human goes back to active survival by leaving behind the convenience of city life and society. for others, the hero is the one that takes advantage of the resources of society and the convenience of living, and focuses their life on creative output and self realization. and for many the hero is the person that devotes their life to helping other humans survive.

    The hero is necessary today, and has always and will always be a part of society. the “hero” doesn’t need to be an actual person either. the hero can be, and often is, mythical. the only real qualification is that the hero lives a life that appears more fulfilling than yours, so as to give you something to aspire to. in actuality it can just be a perception that the hero is living a more fulfilling than the rest of us. maybe the hero has achieved a goal that seems unattainable to the rest of society, or has performed some heroic deed in a moment of crisis, but does the hero live everyday that way? doubtful. so it is the one deed or great achievement that creates a perception that this human is living a life that we should all aspire to.

    In contemporary society perception is the basis of hero status for most. the media and the hype that is built by strategic advertising can elevate anyone to hero status, by merely creating the perception of a life to aspire to. the hero doesn’t actually have to achieve anything or perform any heroic acts, but if they have the right marketing team, hero status can be achieved very quickly. this marketing creates a facade that the person is a hero, but behind the facade there often is a vast emptiness and nothing inspiring to behold. there definitely are modern heroes worthy of their status, but they are not generally found in the most common place that today’s society is looking for them…on the television.

    Could it be that the hero is no longer needed in contemporary society? i don’t believe so, but we may find out if it is possible, if society continues to worship empty, false, fake heroes.

    garrett price May 19, 2008 at 7:28 am
  4. Everyone needs a hero to discover to hero within. One person can provoke that in many. I’m not sure which came first the hero or the society of individuals where heros are now born. But perhaps the hero is from something far within where no matter the situation they are devinely a hero. I don’t believe though that humans are inately heroic, but selfish. The person who has the ability to become selfless IS the heroism. It is not the id that holds the hero rather the ego. A realization occurs in the ego that allows the self to think of others as greater. That ability to reach selflessness requires a threat to self or to others who cannot fend for themselves in order to spark the transformation. So in contemporary society a hero is needed more than ever. We live in a time where selflessness is not rewarded but rather individuality. A hero is required as an example to the rest of us to think outside of our own desires even nessesities. It is not always the needy who provoke this in those who are not threatened but the hero who opens their eyes.

    Lindsay Kirk October 19, 2008 at 6:48 pm
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