Is the image we have of Clark Kent that far removed from Nietzsche's Übermensch?
Nietzsche is a philosopher often lauded as one of the greatest thinkers in recent history. He is a writer that over the years has been misinterpreted and vilified on more than one occasion, which has resulted in him being labeled as a heretic, anti-christian, vitriolic, and morbid. It’s no secret that the Nazi reading of Thus Spoke Zarathustra stained the reputation of Nietzsche.
One of his concepts that has become a part of our everyday life is the Übermensch, or as we call him, Superman. This idea has evolved into the figure of the comic book and film hero we know today.
While Schuster and Siegel’s Clark Kent does not fall too far from the Nietzschean tree, we can’t deny that the Superman is elitist, rigid, and, at times, violent. So, if we let go of all romantic notions, we’ll see that the dude with the blue tights and red underwear was initially created to be the opposite of Nietzsche's ideals and the final result was quite the opposite. Superman embodies this German philosopher's ideas.
So then, how can you become one of Nietzsche's super beings, without turning into a caricature or a despicable being?
First, you should realize that life is inherently greedy. It craves more life. In other words: struggle and pain only leads to an unstoppable desire to succeed.
2. The supremacy Nietzsche's Übermensch suggested was one of always keeping one’s head held high and never submitting to an imposed idea.
3. The Superman thinks for himself. What’s right and wrong is decided by him and no one else.
4. He defends his independence of thought and body without recurring to anyone else’s ideology.
5. In the heroic reinterpretation, the idealized Superman is responsible for his actions, while the original model does it to prove his superiority.
6. These superior beings do not bend steel bars or stop speeding trains. They are however strong, vigorous, and gifted individuals.
7. The real Superman starts by stating that God is dead. This is statement is not meant to be scandalous, but rather a confirmation that we are creatures able to fend for themselves.
8. One point that is a product of the author’s social and historical context is that these attributes seem to be exclusively male. We believe these characteristics can be applied to any human gender.
9. One of the negative aspects of this Superman is the disdain for the weak. However this can be reinterpreted as an attitude that confronts established conventions, loves living on the edge of danger, accepts challenges, does not shy away from confrontation, and seeks to transcend beyond what is considered human.
10. Nietzsche describes a series of traits that are not just an ideal but a true possibility. The most important characteristics are freedom of spirit, achieving one's purpose in life, standing out from the rest, focusing on the value of the individual, and creating one’s own rules.
The real Superman makes a decision and does not back away from it, but assumes all the consequences that can arise from it.
Translated by María Suárez