“Any accountant in any American city secretly feeds the hope that one day, a superman can spring forth who is capable of redeeming years of mediocre existence.”
Umberto Eco, ‘The Myth of Superman’, in Diacritics, Vol 2, No. 1 (Spring, 1972), p. 15.
This quote, written by the same man who wrote The Name of the Rose, explains the past two years of my existence.
In 2011, I joined a university postgraduate course to gain a masters degree in history. The course was delivered at weekends and so fitted in with my commitments. I worked full-time as an accountant, a role I’d taken on since leaving university. Though accountancy is well-paid and a solid career, I was absolutely miserable. No-one is to blame for this. It was entirely my choice. I mistakenly believed that maturity and responsibility equaled sacrificing my creativity. I had to grow up and get serious – therefore, I had to become an accountant.
So, the masters course provided some respite from my spiritual malaise. But it proved to be much more than this. It cleaved my head open, split it apart and crammed my brain full of knowledge. I found that I knew so much more than I knew before. In short, I became enlightened.
Shortly after beginning this course, I discovered Batman. Not Batman of the movies – I’d seen those things in childhood and been distinctly unmoved by them. My discovery came through Batman: The Animated Series and then in his comic books. Until that time, I had never read a comic in my life. Now my house and my hard drive is filled with all types of them – Batman and non-Batman. I consider myself a fan, albeit a very new one.
The arrival of Batman around the same time as my masters course was a fantastic experience. I now explored two worlds – the historic and comic – both of which informed me that those who take risks and fight for what they believe in generally succeed. I was inspired and decided to change my life for the better; to become my own superhero. I dug out my own Batcave and made my cape-and-cowl by:
• Saving as much spare cash as I could and started making a plan to leave accountancy and become a historian.
• In April 2013 I handed in my three month’s notice to my place of employment.
• On June 28th 2013 I left the office forever.
• From July to September 2013 I embarked on full-time research for my masters dissertation. This was the final piece for my course, on the subject of 20th century British cultural history.
• On September 30th 2013 I handed in my dissertation for marking. The results of this would dictate the rest of my plans, a high mark meaning I could embark on a PhD.
• On November 1st 2013, I received my marks. I had attained the highest level of marks possible.
Therefore, I am now typing this story dressed in tights with my underwear most firmly worn on the outside. I am Batman, or as Umberto Eco would have it, Superman. I did it. Wow.
However – my work has only just begun. As at the time of writing this, I am formulating a proposal for a PhD and putting in an application for funding. There is a lot still to do. But with the DC Universe providing me with motivation, I am sure I will get it all done. So sure am I about the synchronicity of my comics’ passion and my love of history, that a certain Caped Crusader got a mention in the Acknowledgments section of my dissertation, even though the subject made no reference to him. So I’ll finish with that message:
“My final mention is for my best friend and mentor Bruce Wayne who has taught me that a passion for fact and the courage to defend it are the true signs of heroism.”