Turning on the TV lately, these are the headline news: shooting in NY, shooting in Pittsburgh, killing in WA, and North Korea launched its missile. (Of course, the ongoing senseless murders, disease and poverty in Africa has long been a proud symbol of that Continent, which has long lost attraction for the news media.) Is there a better background like this for the story of Watchmen?
In a world (actually it might have been always the case) where the selfish billions focus only on their own pathetic little lives, where the past lessons of genocide shed no light on the new world politics, where principles can be bent almost proportionally based on the GDPs of the perpetrators, where compromise is almost a virtue, I can only turn to the quotes of and about a psychopathic vigilante–Rorschach. Strangely, I find great comfort there.
“The city is dying of rabies. Is the best I can do to wipe random flecks of foam from its lips? Never despair. Never surrender.” –Rorschach’s journal, October 13, 1985.
“Soon there will be war. Millions will burn. Millions will perish in sickness and misery. Why does one death matter against so many? Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this. But there are so many deserving of retribution … and there is so little time.” –Rorschach’s journal, October 13, 1985.
“For my own part, regret nothing. Have lived life, free from compromise… and step into the shadow now without complaint.” –Rorschach’s journal, November 1, 1985.
“So what do you do when confronted with such filth? Do you walk by and pretend there is no infestation? Do you focus only on the least repulsive and delude yourself into the belief that the world is good underneath it all? Or do you become an exterminator, stomping all the human cockroaches you can while relentlessly pursuing the rest? You’ll never get them all, for they scurry to the shadows when the light is turned on. But you can get some; you can make a difference. And even if all you manage is a tiny ripple in the fetid slime, at least you lived respectably; you never became one.” — Jacob Held, “Watchmen and Philosophy”
“Rorschach refuses to compromise, to sell out justice, even if it means dispelling the illusion Veidt created and thereby guaranteeing that the millions who died did so in vain. As tears stream down, knowing his fate, he yells at Dr. Manhattan, “Do it!” and Dr. Manhattan evaporates him. Rorschach did not seek death; he did not commit suicide by Manhattan. But he understood what the others did not. ‘It is better to sacrifice life than to forfeit morality. It is not necessary to live, but it is necessary that, so long as we live, we do so honorably.’ Even in the face of Armageddon, never compromise. Life is not valuable simply in virtue of not being death.” — Jacob Held, “Watchmen and Philosophy”