We all carry our own interpreter around with us.  That prism through which we see the world.  A glass formed of values, impressions and influences that guide how we react to what we experience in life.

But there must be some absolutes, surely?  Absolute values about which we all agree.
Call a man a “monster”.  We all form an idea of what kind of being he must be  ..  surely?

R E Howard’s creation Conan is a thug..  Conan is a thief.  A murderer.  A killer for hire.  Conan will stop at nothing to get what he has set his greedy eyes on.  Gold, money, women.  Fight tooth-and-nail for his demands.  Doesn’t give a fig about others’ rights.  All-self.

Yet  ..  he is portrayed as someone of note.  To be admired.  To read about.  Get excited by.
Is it those manly qualities he embodies?  A brigand, tough and determined.  Is it because despite all the crap life has thrown at him, he is above all a survivor?   Born into the worst conditions, he’s somehow scraped by  ..  against the odds he’s prevailed?  Made something against all the odds.
Tough, toughened in life’s red-hot forge into unbending iron.  Showing admirable qualities .. doggedness, plucky, doesn’t understand when to give up.

Something to admire in there alright.
Conan lives to fight another day, hanging on by his fingernails  ..  but he prevails.  Everything against him but he wins.  Conan is the archetypal male.  He’s all-man.

But he is a monster.  Seen another way.  Seen through the eyes of his victims.

Hero?  To be admired?
Or unprincipled self-indulgent thug?

Little wonder some find his activities less than amusing.  And hardly surprising some might decide to set about wiping that smirk off his face.

New Conan tribute tale starts tomorrow.


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in praise of men we’d like to be





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