Monday, March 26, 2007

Gaining Wisdom

Every now and then, I pick up a book that surpasses my expectations. Wisdom from the Batcave is just such a book. Rabbi Cary Friedman surprised me by producing a book so very well done. Many books that derive philosophical or existential significance from comic books, television shows, or other forms of popular culture end up doing a disservice to both subjects. Frequently, they display an embarrassingly superficial familiarity with the media from which they're drawing inspiration. In this case, though, Friedman showed a versatile knowledge of Batman, his history, and the character's development from all media, using that knowledge as a stepping-stone to well-founded, carefully crafted observations. He doesn't limit his source material to the comics; he's just as likely to quote from the animated series or a film, and he can cite creators and story titles just as well as any veteran Batman reader.

I usually finish a book of this sort in an hour or so, but this one actually took a bit longer; it was Friedman's solid research and well-grounded observations that enticed me to linger more with each segment I read. I simply couldn't give the book a hasty flip-through, but found myself instead wanting to take the book in at a slower pace.

All in all, a surprisingly memorable book; I only wish he'd devote the same attention to Superman, another hero from whom I derived a great deal of my own ethical and philosophical views early in my childhood.

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