Unflattening Superman

Kenneth Pichler, Jr.
The primary author is the individual who drafted the first version of this section; a section that could have been modified since it was originally published.

Superman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comic. There have been television shows, movies and books based on Superman.

The origin story of Superman relates that he was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El moments before Krypton's destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Clark Kent/Superman starts to display superhuman abilities, which, upon reaching maturity, he resolves to use for the benefit of humanity.

Superman possesses extraordinary powers, with the character traditionally described as "Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...It's Superman!" Superman's famous arsenal of powers has included flight, super-strength, invulnerability to non-magical attacks, super-speed, vision powers (including x-ray, heat-emitting, telescopic, infra-red, and microscopic vision), super-hearing, super-intelligence, and super-breath, which enables him to blow out air at freezing temperatures, as well as exert the propulsive force of high-speed winds.

In chapter 5 of his Unflattening, Dr. Nick Sousanis refers to the fifth dimensions. If you look on page 96, there are several pictures that are related to the Superman comic; such as the telephone both where Clark Kent would transform into the superhero Superman. Dr. Sousanis describes this picture as our work space within our minds where we gather our ideas, thoughts, or opinions that we have formed over the years and then apply our own sense of outlook on the world. That is what the picture of the swirling (which is our minds of ideas and our trials and tribulations that we or someone we know have been through) in the telephone booth picture shows.

There is also a huge picture like Superman opening his shirt but unlike Superman because where he would have a big "S" on the chest Sousanis draws many pictures of earth. Sousanis is telling us that even though some people have gone through similar experiences or different experiences, we still see the world differently or those experiences differently, but because we go through those experiences we are able to relate with our imagination and images.

There is a good example on page 89 where Sousanis writes "imagination lets us exceed our inevitably limited point of view to find perspectives not in the existence or dimensions not yet accessible." We are able to understand the experiences that others live but we will never fully or completely understand or view those experiences like others view those experiences because we're not them; we're different so we look at the world differently. But, like Superman, we're able to hold onto the many different experiences that we live as well as listen to others' experiences. Therefore, we are able to relate and this is giving us that superhuman ability, like Superman, to "host a multiplicity of world's inside us" (Sousanis, 96).





Cover from first issue of Superman, June 1938