Are You a ‘Nobody’ Too?
In the graphic novel ‘The Nobody’ by Jeff Lemire, a man arrives in a small town bandaged from head to toe, while wearing opaque goggles. A curiosity at first as to who he really is and what happened to him to require the bandages, it was somewhat inevitable that he became demonised in time. Is he a wanted man hiding his face? Should his real identity be forcibly revealed? Questions like these arose.
Here comes the huge irony. Being inspired by H.G. Wells’ ‘The Invisible Man’, he had literally ‘nothing’ to hide – at least, not physically. In fact, the bandages were to hide this truth that he has ‘nothing ‘to hide. He was the unwitting victim of an experiment gone wrong, who sought a quiet place to restore his visibility. He had every right to conceal the fact that he was invisible – or he would be further demonised by questions such as… What if he sneaks around to commit crimes under the cloak of invisibility? Should his freedom be inhibited then?
Yet, despite his mindfulness of the need of secrecy and the rest not knowing his secret, he became penalised as the guilty one for crimes not committed by him. It’s also ironic that wearing the bandages was an expression of respect too – to not be an unseen disembodied ghost who terrorises the town secretly. That he never went about without his bandages safeguarded everyone. But this went unrecognised. What he was underneath became more a concern that his blameless behavior. As such tragedies go, self-fulfilling demonisation drives him to take drastic measures for self-defense – making him a real criminal.
Maybe there are invisible people lurking among us. We’ll never now since we can’t see them. No… wait! There are indeed invisible folks around – unseen beings, ghosts and gods… and even ‘nobodies’ like wallflower people. We are all invisible people to some extent. Even though we might not wear physical bandages, there are aspects of our experiences, character and thought, that we deliberately conceal from others. How do you know what are these invisible aspects? How about living with an invisible person? This just might bring about the best and worst in you, revealing to you what you yourself have never seen of yourself. (There’s a trailer of the novel below.)
What we cannot see in ourselves
is often more terrifying than
what we cannot see in others.