Metaphysical Man the Don Quijote of the Digital Age by William Chasterson
Normally Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter sets the standard for self confidence in our digital age, but lately he’s been harboring doubts about his city’s current system of life. When he is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by Alt-Reality Man, a mysterious super villain, he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Delve with Metaphysical Man into the chasm between the developed and developing worlds. Experience the crucible of conflicting ideas and Metaphysical Man’s inner conflict as he’s forced to recognize that reality is not as sharply defined as he once imagined.
It took me a long time to decide not only what i thought of this book but how i wanted to read this book. By this, i mean i found that this book could be interpenetrated and therefore read a few different ways. Was it a serious, educational piece? Was it reminiscent of classic superhero animations? Was it a comedy? Honestly, i think that it was probably a mesh of all three and maybe more. I personally found myself swinging towards a comical reading. This isn’t bad thing, producing a work that can be interpenetrated in multiple ways, i believe shows the versatility of such a work.
There were elements that i loved in this book and others that didn’t go over so well with me.
Ever chapter begins with a famous quote by some of our most beloved superheroes. I thought this was a really nice touch to give the book a little extra something.
Lets talk about our protagonist: Metaphysical Man (MM). I felt as if he was a kind of Batman/Superman hybrid reincarnation. But a funny, super self-conscious Batman/Superman hybrid.The entire book has elements of superhero tropes and stereotypes that we have come to love across multiple different mediums.
Metaphysical Man first comes across as a bit of a bubbling superhero with his very own catch phrase, as while flying gracefully in the sky he smacks head long into goose, killing it instantly, his “face blushes crimson” and his first thought to redeem himself was bringing a misguided revenge upon someone else.
Like i said before, there are a lot of stereotypes that pop up through the book. Like the “three lowlifes” that have a “ten-year-old girl cornered against a brick wall in a dead end alley.” Not to say that these elements aren’t interesting, or don’t further the plot, it’s just that you can flick through almost any superhero story and find similar concepts.
There are transitions that shift between the action of the story and kind of semi-information blocks, kind of how a voice over would work in a film. I thought it brought something a little interesting to the book, breaking up the chapters.
Metaphysical Man is incredibly clueless when it comes to humans, their mannerisms and individuality. He also comes across as extremely arrogant and consumed by his own self importance. Which is why he’s always banging on about this “modern man” so much, understandably a central theme within the book. Though, note the term modern man. Something else that stuck out to me in my own personal reading of this book. The blatant masochistic view of men being above women, men being more important than women that is so typical of a traditionalist, heteronormative patriarchal society.
Metaphysical Man races to the scene of a burning building and when told a father rushed back in to save one of his children, the first thing Metaphysical Man asked was “son or daughter?” He feels compelled to save the father, ignores the life of the little girl and then to top it all off, he doesn’t understand why the father is so angry at him after not saving his daughters life even though a superhero with his abilities would of and should of been able to save both. It was never said, but all i could think was, if it was a son and not a daughter would Metaphysical Man have saved him? probably. I won’t lie this got my inner feminist all up in a huff because according to Metaphysical Man “males give a greater contribution to society than females.”
I personally consolidated this with the idea of a commentary on our society. While moving forward morally, technologically and intellectually, this society, at the same time, has reverted back generations where the birth of a baby girl isn’t as well received as the birth of a baby boy.
There is definite intrigue as we discover all these different aspects of the central plot along with our protagonist, the events and information about this world unfolding around us as we read. There is a lot of really great descriptions of the world and the action presented.
While the concept may seem, at first glance, superficial with closer inspection you see that this book makes really informed comments on important and current issues within our society, for example poverty, disease, abuse and about the corruptibility of power in a strong, almost political, statement.
The one big question i have after reading this work is, why the hell is the word ‘friends’ in italics when Metaphysical Man refers to his friends??
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