Do The Humanities Have Superpowers? – or – “Post-Modern Man vs. The Naughty Nihilist”

Dave Ng has a call for “What kind of scientist is Santa?” which got me thinking about, “What super powers might Santa have?” which ultimately led me to think about the general classification of super powers:

The Scientific Academy has received a disproportionally large amount of exposure when it comes to superhero-dom. I found this list, and a large proportion of them are based in either the physical or biological sciences.

But, what sort of superpowers might be brought on by or founded in the humanities (not including psychology, since fundamentally its based in brain chemistries of sorts – *mind shmind*) – knowledge based and argumentative, perhaps? Super-strong in ideals, or impenetrable arguments? It seems, then, that most academics should have superpowers – or, humanities’ powers, to be more precise.

Imagine a battle to the death between “Post-Modern Man” and “The Naughty Nihilist”, if you will:

*PMM swoops into an alley on his moped, wearing a sleek vintage cardigan and smoking jacket, and packs his pipe with a pinch of halfzware shag. He fails to acknowledge both the STOP and pedestrial crossing signs*

*TNN rides a sleigh across the concrete pulled by human slaves, cracking his stainless steel whip and laughing maniacally. He simply ignores both signs and plows through a dog walker making its round.*

A battle of wits would then ensue, no doubt along the following lines:

TNN: Vee vant zat money, Lebowski.

PMM: If one examines the precapitalist paradigm of discourse, one is faced with a choice: either accept socialism or conclude that the raison d’etre of the participant is social comment, given that Lyotard’s essay on constructive narrative is invalid.

TNN: Vee don’t care. Vee still vant zat money or vee fuck you up.

PMM: “Sexual identity is part of the collapse of language,” says Sontag; however, according to Dahmus, it is not so much sexual identity that is part of the collapse of language, but rather the rubicon, and some would say the paradigm, of sexual identity.

TNN: Ja, vee still vant ze money. Vee sreaten you.

PMM: The subject is contextualised into a that includes culture as a totality. Thus, the premise of the precapitalist paradigm of discourse implies that reality serves to reinforce the status quo.


*Note: the dialog for Post-Modern Man was taken from this nonsensical essay generated by the Postmodern Essay Generator, while The Naughty Nihilist took quotes from The Nihilist characters in The Big Lebowsky*

What Humanities based superpowers might you want?

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice:

2 Responses to “Do The Humanities Have Superpowers? – or – “Post-Modern Man vs. The Naughty Nihilist””

  1. David Ng

    How about fortune telling? Or the ability to predict events? That’s kind of like having the perfect read on political science, anthropology, sociology and history all at once.

  2. Sam

    I’d count a lot of magic as Humanities. After all, it’s a science, of a sort, but not one where you can be as sure of yourself as a physicist might take the liberty to be. And some magic users are like applied philosophers or historians. At the very least, they can debate epistemology with themselves, and confuse their opponents into surrender. If I were a superhero, that’s probably along the lines of what I’d do (invoke paradigm shifts and focus perspectives at different points along the timeline.)

    Well-run and well-played, the Mage roleplaying games can be like that.

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