I've been musing on Rorschach and the other Watchmen some more. I looked up quotes from the graphic novel in an attempt to get Rorschach's speech patterns down better (because I'm rp-ing him at hogwarts_hocus
), and ended up rethinking some things about the character. I somehow just hadn't realized how much of an existentialist
he is at his core. And now I like him even more. They did
include this speech in the movie, but not in its entirety, and somehow what he meant didn't fully register. Check it out: this is Rorschach's epiphany from about 10 years before the events of the movie."Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach."
Free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world?? Ahh, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus!
It's just kind of an odd design he chooses. And somehow I hadn't realized the extent of his faithlessness because of it -- he's right-wing conservative, hates intellectualism, liberalism, decadence, drugs, sex (especially prostitution, but also homosexuality). You just kind of figure that some brand of religious fundamentalism goes along with those ideals and moral absolutism. And I do think he must have embraced that view at some point in his life, for some period of time. But he doesn't hang on to those views because he thinks God wants him to. He thinks God was a delusion, and that everything else attached to it -- that sense of morality -- has to be salvaged. He wants to recreate an imaginary past world where things made sense. It's kind of the opposite of what Nietzsche concluded upon "staring into the abyss" and declaring that "God is dead." Instead of rejecting Christian values and embracing the "will to power," Rorschach tries to rebuild what was there before God died.
But why the sweeping disdain for intellectuals and liberals? Probably because he developed fucked up associations, due to being the bastard son of a prostitute who was abusive to him, that he was eventually taken from. Sex became a far more evil thing in his head than in a normal person's. And he views the world through the eyes of the weak, little and weird. He wants to defend those people (as long as they're thinking the right things and not preying on others and being a corrupting force). That mentality is also why he's so passionate about what he thinks and does. Every criminal's punishment is a personal vendetta. He cares too much, to the point that it borders on deranged.
The Comedian, too, is a kind of existentialist. Except he doesn't quite make it to the step of embracing a new moral code. He just decides the whole thing (life, morality) is a farce. So he's your basic nihilist. Just does whatever. He doesn't identify with victims, like Rorschach, and doesn't feel a need to restore the world to something better. He's a go-getter; he's fine with things as they are. (Or so he tells himself. That guy is, of course, hugely unhappy too. In fact, he may be the unhappiest of all. Rorschach, at least, has a sense of purpose.)
Not sure why I'm writing about this. The non-fans won't care to read and the fans already know all this. Ah, well.
But I found these couple links, from googling "Rorschach existentialism" and they've got some good thoughts:http://www.hereticalideas.com/2009/03/watchmen-violence-and-vigilantism/http://jonrowe.blogspot.com/2004/07/greatest-existentialist-hero-in-modern.html
I've seen people say all over the place, in reviews and stuff, that Rorschach's name and mask represent the black-and-white, absolutist view he has. And that works, but it's more than that: it actually represents the inherent subjectivity of the human experience of reality, and morality. Rorschach looks at the world and sees one thing -- knowing that it's just a random inkblot and that other people see other things -- and he sticks with it. Revolting in the face of the absurd (Camus). Living authentically and defining mankind through his choices (Sartre).
So, yeah. This has the makings of a full-blown fan obsession...