Reading Sherwood Anderson’s Marching Men is like my mind is now opening to things I didn’t know how to express, things I didn’t know how to look and think and talk about, but only felt vaguely, like the nebulous star clouds seen by the Hubble telescope. I also felt like I should write about a hero of our time, like yesterday’s post on the blogger about the questions I had about the hero’s profile, characteristics etc. The barber character talking about women in chapter 3 book II stirred me deeply, resonated with my own views and made me think of writing a story around that idea. This is the path not taken by the ‘hero’, one who eschews and if necessary walks away from, in order to maintain his pristine internal order, purity and sanity and therefore sanctity. The hero must emerge from burning away of those elements that hold him back, that submerge him in the ordinary rut of living, instead he nurtures elements that propel him towards a destiny away from the common lot, that make him think and act in ways contrary to popular opinion, contrary to established notions of living. He vicariously or otherwise lives through each force, sees his way through the eyes of the others, and sees the path it leads to and therefore avoids it. He must go through the three stages of life: habit, instinct and intelligence – that is, of the machine, the animal and then finally the human. The hero is born of intelligence, when he overcomes his mechanical habits, his brute nature and finally enters the portals of intelligence that is the natural state of the human being, though it is considered unnatural now, even divine in some respects.
The first generation of men left their idyllic villages and migrated to cities in search of new opportunities, in search of greater knowledge, better housing, modern living, to partake of the advancement in science and education, in the happenings around the world and in the changing face of the country and its leadership. These men shaped the cities according to their aspirations, according to their temperament and according to their capacity in dealing with the social and political currents prevalent in the cities at the time of their migration. Some of them became news makers, some news reporters, and some totally lost in the ever changing social milieu, in the rut of family life, in the race to move up in the hierarchy, in the many distractions that are ever present in a society in perpetual transition that marks a growing city. Out of this morass must come the jewel, the hero, who rising above the ordinary flow sees the inevitable destiny and steps out of it.