Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism
By Joshua S. Joseph
To be a hero is to pick a side. And to pick a side is to declare both a victim and a
villain. The problem with the real world is that good and bad are rarely, if ever, clear.
A TRAGIC MYTH, AN EXISTENTIAL ROLLER COASTER, AN INTERROGATION OF
A CULTURE OBSESSED WITH IMPACT AND MEANING
Is Dak Ackerthefifth a praiseworthy hero, as evidenced by his noble intentions? Or is
he a contemptible antihero, as evidenced by the repercussions of his actions? In this fictional memoir, Dak struggles with these questions himself as he seeks to delineate the difference between his aspirational self and his true self.
Given his self-proclaimed heroic identity and the fallibility of those in his life, Dak is tormented by decisions around who to save. The aunt who is a contemptible human and lauded philanthropist, or the hostile and vengeful sister? The misogynist boss, or the lover striving to right wrongs at the expense of those closest to her? It seems the only sane voice is that of a mysterious old man full of wisdom and strange gifts, but also the man responsible for the death of Dak's mother.
It takes both growth and great tragedy for Dak to realize the inherent opposition between striving and compassion - and that our greater ambitions are often at odds with our beloved.
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