“The Byronic hero, incapable of love, or capable only of an impossible love, suffers endlessly. He is solitary, languid, his condition exhausts him. If he wants to feel alive, it must be in the terrible exaltation of a brief and destructive action.” ~Albert Camus
The tragic hero, going through the motions of becoming stronger despite that which tries to kill him. The Byronic hero, loving dangerously despite the play-it-safe society. The anti-hero, playfully mocking power on both sides and going beyond good and evil.
In literature, think: The Vampire Lestat, Edmond Dantès, Roland Deschain, and Scarlet O’Hara. In movies think: Han Solo, Lara Croft, John Wick, and Tyler Durden. In comics think: Tony Stark, Wolverine, “V”, and Batman.
Here are seven signs you just might be a tragic/Byronic/anti-hero. Let’s break it down…
1.) You possess a high level of intelligence and perception (and you don’t hold back):
“Truth is like surgery. It hurts but cures. A Lie is like a pain killer. It gives instant relief but has side effects forever.” ~Unknown
You are sophisticated and educated. You are self-critical and introspective. But you are also didactic and pedantic, verging on mockery toward the masses. You would always rather slap others with the truth rather than kiss them with lies. Sentimentality and whiney, woe-is-me sheepishness be damned!
Because you see the big picture so clearly, it’s difficult for you to hold back for fear of offending all the small picture thinkers. And so, you refuse to hold back. You are willing to go full-frontal beast mode with your deep knowledge, ruthlessly beating people over the head with your Club of Truth. It’s on them to see the light, or not. But at least you tried.
2.) You are mysterious, magnetic and charismatic:
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” ~Rumi
You are willing to be infamous in order to bring water to the wasteland. Your heroism is double-edged. It cuts true for those seeking Truth, and hurts just as true for those in denial of it. Your notorious mystery is your great strength: a kind of Meta-ninjutsu emerges from it.
You are enigmatic and shadowy with your powers of seduction, but you are always sincere. Indiscriminate with your philandering, your virility is a fiery beacon for lost love. You love dangerously but authentically. You are so conceited you’re convinced, but you’re so confident that it doesn’t even matter. “Conceit” is a topic for timid codependents with low self-esteem to squabble over. As Arthur Schopenhauer stated, “With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.”
3.) You possess a happy-go-lucky self-deprecating sense of humor:
“The Byronic Hero is two pounds of thinly sliced turkey, honey-glazed ham, cannabis, salami, and cheese on rye and is typically served with some of those cute party toothpicks with little olives on the end. It is usually characterized by rebellion and a distaste for society, yet a haughty appreciation for tasty lunchmeats and hallucinogenic drugs.” ~Uncyclopedia’s article on Lord Byron.
You are eccentric most of the time, caustic some of the time. But you are sarcastic all the time. Never overly serious but always cleverly sincere. As such, you are also an extremely fickle beast: flying by the seat of your pants on the one hand and losing your pants on the other. But your happy-go-lucky disposition and hard-love authenticity is your saving grace. Your tongue-in-cheek attitude subsumes, even as it honors, all base emotions, lest they fester and become unhealthy shadow aspects.
You have the ability to laugh at anything: death, birth, love, hate. Just as you are able to laugh in the face of anything: cops, heroes, the devil, even God. Fuck ‘em all if they can’t laugh back. The jokes on them. The cosmic joke is on you too, but the crucial difference is that you’re able to laugh back.
4.) You tend to make your own rules as an exile, outcast, or outlaw:
“Loneliness is a fire I hold close to my skin, to see how much pain I can stand before running to the water.” ~Atticus
Rules are meant to be broken, and you’re here to prove it. But there is a method to your madness. You directly break them in order to indirectly improve upon them. Eccentric heroes make their own rules and your rules are as eccentric as they are challenging for others.
You hold a deep disrespect for rank (person first, rank second (if at all)) and privilege (silver spoons are always better served shoved up someone’s arse) and a natural distaste for social institutions and norms, but this is also the way that you transcend the passive, codependent, and all too secure/insecure society. The shadow of the martyr is your shadow, however, casting its darkness across the cause. Danger is ever-present, for breaking the rules can have a great cost, especially for tragic-heroes. But hey! The lot of the audacious, courageous, adventurous wanderer is always dicey, right?
5.) You are highly adaptable and self-overcoming:
“Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
You are cunning and highly adaptable. Your adaptability is tantamount to Übermenschean proportions. As such, you are all too willing to be the bridge from Man to Overman. Even if it hurts you and others. Even if it means everyone will be crying like little babies over the ashes of tradition, convention, belief, comfort, and security. Innovation, adaptability, and a healthy progressive evolution for the species is paramount.
Your willingness to be the bridge is dependent upon your capacity to self-overcome. And you do it with unmitigated moxie and applause-able aplomb. Yesterday’s You has nothing on today’s You. Today’s You is always in abject rebellion against getting too comfortable or too set in its ways. There is always another inner hurdle to be hurdled; always another obstacle to become the path; always a progressive journey to be the thing.
6.) You possess “dark” attributes not normally associated with a hero:
“Beware the man who would kill a god, the choir whispers, for he will never know peace, and he will drag the whole universe into war to keep him merry company along the way. He will stand before the throne, look the void in the eye and laugh. He cannot bear to live in a world where he is not sovereign of his own soul. He would rip his teeth into divine flesh and swallow the universe whole.” ~Okayophelia
Your troubled past has led to a troubled present that projects a troubling future, but you are all the stronger for it. Even as you struggle with emotional conflicts, and self-destructive behavior, you are proactively wrestling demons into reconciled allies. As such, even your moodiness and brooding are forthright and laced with integrity that lends to your humility and humanness.
You are all too willing to point out the hero’s “feet of clay.” Even your own. But only in order to free yourself from entrenchment. Once free, you are an amoral agent par excellence. Morality is too goody-two-shoes for your edginess. Immorality is too evil for your heroic bent. Amorality is just right. From your amoral vantage point, you are strategically positioned between worlds, peripheral, acute, cutting edge, and always ready to strike them down in order to erect new ones to take their place.
7.) Your loyalty is for a particular project or community of like-minded others:
“A philosophy of life is something that we all need, and something we all develop, consciously or not. Some people simply import wholesale whatever framework for life they acquire from a religion. Others make up their own philosophy as they go along.” ~Massimo Pigliucci
Your devotion is not to a single person or country. You are devoted to the big picture cause that we all have in common: leaving behind a healthy world for our grandchildren. Your heroic abilities shine when you draw a line in the sand, lay your shield low, dig your heels into the earth, and dare any and all would-be tyrants to make their play. You would rather die defying tyranny than bend the knee and live as a slave to it.
As such, your loyalty is to the global community of like-minded, openminded, free-thinkers that live by the core principles of freedom, health, reason, non-violence, and the universal laws that bind them all together into an interdependent force of cosmic rebellion which will always stand against tyranny, corruption, ill-reason, violence, and man-made laws grown uncouth by the passage of time.
Foremost, you are an anti-hero as a reminder to everyone that even heroes can become tyrants if their power is not checked. As Abraham Lincoln profoundly stated, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”