Sunday, 22 September 2013

On the Subject of Superpowers

by Nathaniel Charles

If you had a choice, what would your superpower be? It’s a question that is regularly asked by me and the answers have ranged from ‘shape shifting’ to ‘complete power over potatoes’ (the potato thing is actually quite useful when you think about it*). Now this question may not seem particularly important in the grand scheme of things but I’d argue that it is one of the great outlets of imagination in western culture.

This idea sounds a little far fetched, after all, how do superpowers compare to art or sculpture. Firstly I’d say that while not everyone has the inclination to take a heavy hammer to a rather solid piece of rock every person can answer ‘what would your superpower be?’ To answer the question you have to use imagination and draw upon your hopes, aspirations and personal nature to deliver one pure shot of vague longing and wistfulness.

It is not just in our modern times that superpowers are popular, looking back through history they have been the object of fascination, Greek myth and the Illiad created stories involving gods and demi-gods such as Hercules with his great strength and Achilles, the mightiest warrior of the age and nigh invulnerable. If you were to ask a child back then what his superpower would be the answer would go along the lines of ‘throw thunder like Zeus!’, ‘Be as strong as Hercules!’ or ‘complete power over corn!’

Now that you have seen both the creative and cultural sides of superpowers I’d ask you to consider the question yourselves and consider it carefully; do you choose one that could help humanity (Superman-esque), give you universal power (like Dr Manhattan’s) or just be kinda fun to have?

Remember however, with great power comes great responsibility. 

*It might not sound like an exciting power but the applications in agriculture and general utility in the kitchen would be immense. It’d be unwise to underestimate the offensive capabilities of a well-aimed root vegetable as well.

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