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Monday, May 6, 2013

HERO IS NOT A NOUN. IT IS A VERB

HERO IS NOT A NOUN. IT’S A VERB.

Robert Downey Jr. said that in an interview that

I was reading with the ghost of Ernest Hemingway looking over my shoulder.

He growled, “The man’s right.” 

Then, he read the next sentence and snapped,

“How can a man get it right one breath and go tragically wrong the next?”

“Isn’t that the human condition?” I asked.

“Ha!” snorted Hemingway and stormed off into the shadows of my apartment. 

(He gets that way sometimes.)

What was the next sentence?

“Heroism’s one aspect of an entire spectrum of things –

an act of courage is no more important than an act of cowardice.”

Hemingway called out from the darkness,

“Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy. 

But by God, it will be one worth reading.  If Lord Jim had stayed a coward, Conrad’s book would have been shit!”

What do you think of Downey’s remarks, of Hemingway’s?

Last reflection: Once Alex Cavanaugh reminded me that love is also a verb.
{Image courtesy of Esquire Magazine.}


14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes it is!
Maybe he was going for something profound such as there can't be light without darkness?

Allison said...

Hmmm... I think cowardice is just as impacting as courage but I don't think it's as important! That Alex says some wise things too.

Allison (Geek Banter)

D.G. Hudson said...

Heroes are usually required to sacrifice something or someone to become the hero. Heroism has a distinct set of skills required: strength or arcane power, a good set of basic principles, and a way of getting around quickly.

In real life, anyone who thinks and acts for the safety of others has a bit of the hero in them.

M Pax said...

Well, you certainly can't be a hero without doing a lot of action of some sort.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Alex:
I think he was speaking in term of portraying the characteristic as an actor. Both hero and coward are valid, life moments.

In life, hero is indeed a verb that D.G. is right demands sacrifice. Cowardice does, too, but the soul is a terrible thing to give up.

Allison:
Doesn't Alex say the wisest things sometimes? Thanks for visiting and commenting!

D.G.:
You're right: each of us has the capacity to be the hero in someone's bruised life -- and we pay a terrible price if we turn our backs at such a time!

Mary:
And a suit of armor that flies and shoots energy beams doesn't hurt either! :-)

The Words Crafter said...

i can sort of see what he's saying. both choices can have an impact. both can have tragic consequences; both cost something; and both will change how you feel about yourself and how others see you.... ?

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Words Crafter:
An astute observation -- and this after a grueling day at work. My Stetson's off to you. :-)

Denise Covey said...

I'll always think of 'hero' as a noun, not a verb.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Roland,

You and Hemingway's ghost have such an interesting relationship.

Hero.. yes, a noun, a feeling, an entity, and a phenomenon of its own.

One doesn't necessarily have to be a larger than life character to be someone's hero. I could be a something as insignificant as a simple act of kindness.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Roland,

You and Hemingway's ghost have such an interesting relationship.

Hero.. yes, a noun, a feeling, an entity, and a phenomenon of its own.

One doesn't necessarily have to be a larger than life character to be someone's hero. I could be a something as insignificant as a simple act of kindness.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Denise:
Yes, I am a former English teacher, too. But I think Robert was being philosophic not literal in his words. :-)

Michael:
Hemingway thinks he should be nominated for sainthood for putting up with me. I tell him you get nominated for sainthood for what you do BEFORE death. He just blows ghost cigar smoke in my face! LOL.

Like you, I believe the best heroes are those who do the simple acts of kindness hour in and hour all their lives. :-)

The Words Crafter said...

i gave up. moved back to blogger. check out Feedly. it's an extension of Chrome. i can use that to see all my friends. it's still called The Journey South. the address is thewordscrafter.blogspot.com

should make things much easier. rest. be safe. see you soon!

VR Barkowski said...

In telling a story, I agree with Mr. D., "an act of courage is no more important than an act of cowardice." The hero's goal in the outer world, whether to rescue, survive, escape, etc., does not negate cowardice. Cowardice is essentially a lack of bravery, and for a protagonist pulled into a hero's journey/quest, it can create an internal conflict that makes him or her that much more compelling. Noun implies stasis. Verb implies action. And in that context, hero is indeed a verb. The most interesting heroes are made not born.

VR Barkowski

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Words Crafter:
I followed you to your new blog on Blogger. I stick by my friends! :-)

VR:
Like you, I beleive Robert has a point: Hero is not a stable, inflexible state. Flames look like objects but they are a process. In similar manner so are people.

Humans are always in flux -- hence they are verbs not nouns. We become what we repeatedly do.

In telling a story heroics and cowardice are elements that make up a story arc.

In living a life, just being kind rather than giving in to spite and anger is a form of heroics that more of us should attempt.

As always, an insightful comment. You and Words Crafter never fail to make me think. :-)

Fact is, most of my visiting friends leave intelligent, fun comments. I have a fun cyber-home!!