AIAI

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Images by Cameron C. Lindsay - Sources, AP

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For a cry of lament […], for the name of a hero.

Ovid

The Hero is dead. No longer a person, it is time for the living to turn It into a legend. The corpse, as is tradition, will pass to the few deserving hands of the heirs. A recurrent theme. Or the ashes, if the remains are to be incinerated. Items or dust or body parts the same, they reach the status of relics, and are of the interest of many. Someone—it is murmured—even sneakingly followed the living hero to a public restroom stall, and long waited with no little luck for some piece of the deposition to remain unswallowed by the whirlpool, a soft yellowish paste, a piercing scent, a marvel to be canned and auctioned, now that its value multiplies with death. The number the item is to reach matters little, for numbers are at their most meaningless when referring to currencies; tens, millions, tens of millions, but it is said that ordinary prole could not purchase the unique object with the accumulated wages of many years of labor, if he were to compete with the one who actually took home this canned piece of excrement. But the remains of the Hero are not to be possessed by laborers, content as they must live with a daily meal, a roof, and a sense of order protected by the Hero’s kind, the ones concerned with theories and practices of our orders, willing and able to pay their way to a costly piece of residues—this rag was worn in battle, this portrait curses the rivals who dare glance at it, this ring recalls an intimate loss, this pen signed proposals into law, this wig appears on the cover of the Hero’s debut album. One may envy those participating in these auctions, but for the Hero, were It able to see these people piling on each other in struggle to claim simple objects, this would only strengthen Its contempt for the living. In this life, though, the Hero has no longer an unfiltered say on anything; everybody claims closeness to the former person and understanding of what Its thoughts now would be, for convincing the masses about this would grant the precious relics and, most importantly, the available status. So begins this judgment of arms. For one particular candidate, a social meeting with these aspiring champions would be something to be dragged into; “It comes with the position”, one may say, to which the solid, masterly sculpted precision of a middle finger would casually reply, with the authority granted to he who descends to ordinary codes, “Does this, too, come with the position?” All the candidates work and live in a convoluted network of hierarchies referred to as “checks and balances”, and though all of them must be noble—something of the disciplined and restrained rage within their royal selves—never more than one can be the Hero. A task of action and influence and glory, although not a ruling job. A task of pain. The Hero must refuse to change Its mud for silk, Its fatigues for Gucci, Its Bud Light Lime for Bordeaux. It celebrates life by chasing death, and will develop a humble appreciation for the common man. The occasional luxury around, inevitable, must be endured as an annoyance at the very least, and though of gaunt appearance—for the Hero shall torment its own self with the discipline of unrest and hunger and discomfort—It must always be wiser, stronger and more resolved than anyone else in the same room. This must be said, this must be constantly remembered, almost as if the Hero were bragging—but It wouldn’t do that, It would just try to reassure Its fearful crew. And yet, words are often unnecessary to confirm the rank—and perhaps this will one day determine the Hero’s fate: the mere resolve of Its gaze would pierce throughout anyone’s will and pull out their trembling, real self for all to see. But this works only in presence of the Hero; the territories are too vast to assert authority merely by the firmness of those fiery eyes; It can convince, seduce or frighten anyone, but not everyone. These are the qualities; few possess them, but many try to claim the position anyway during these times of war—as any times—in which the vacant spot throbs in the collective psyche. The news insistently claims that a resolute leader is needed, each broadcaster cheering for their champion—not the luxurious, classy lord, this casual comic, flawless in his speech, but unconcerned, say some; not the brute, the inscrutable warrior, short of words but trigger-happy candidate, say some others. Disappointed with each other, the two nobles clash their thoughts in private, but there’s no need for an actual argument; the checks and balances system, a complex machine, keeps dictating the course of action. Everyone has seen this before, the bitter candidates bite hard while giving back their badge and gun, their magic ring, their laser-blade, and in private kick their lockers—although they know it’s time to unofficially proceed, to break the rules, to save the day. Each action a statement, each statement an action. They mix the realms of the private and the public. One of them jokes about unprecedented powers in a fancy meeting with the media. “Predator drones”, he says; his aides laugh. The other one complains about a meeting with some foreign minister. “It’s fucking gay,” he says; his aides laugh. The grounds are set for a confrontation; evaluations, bureaucracy, and a series of hearings take place. This will become the decisive moment for the two main candidates. The quid resides on whom will the opponents attempt to convince; they talk on the same stage, but to different audiences. While one admits his lack of eloquence and exchanges middle fingers and drilling gazes to the enjoyment of the common man, the other one patronizes his rival and argues sophisticated values. All the qualities of the former are important to the noble class, but they judge his petty pride as lying below the role of the Hero; the relics will pass to the articulate candidate. Because the brute can and will hurt the enemies in life, but the real Hero will hurt them even in death, and no blade can do that as eloquent legacy can. The Hero’s remaining enemies have claimed that during their haunted existence—to fear It still, for even the Hero’s buried ashes loathe their blood, as they keep feeling Its overwhelming spite from Its very grave. Unimpressed still, but hurt, the Runaway—as he will be mockingly called from now on—wonders what, if he played by the rules as he understood them, went wrong. The fiercest warrior—he believes—defeated by a cheeky blabbermouth. Drowning in Bud Light Lime, he complains one last time before fading away from public life. His aides remember him sobbing drunkenly “I’ll die for these men, yo”, and “Does this, too, come with the position?,” and “No one will beat the Runaway, but the Runaway.” These were his last words. He, whom no one had defeated, slit his own throat over sheer resentment. The trail of blood, someone noted, left a particular stain in the shape of a Hyacinth.

It is difficult to predict the whims of the masses. The Runaway became a mockery in the circles of the Hero’s heir—a failure in his own right. But power is organized in factions, and some of these reinvented the identity of their fallen champion. They wave flags with nothing on them but crimson flowers. The Martyr is dead. No longer a person, it is time for the living to turn It into a legend. It is as if not their life, but their death were the component able to multiply the existence and meaning of these characters.

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Images by Cameron C. Lindsay - Sources, AP

 

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