Everyone is equal, but is he or her the most human? Does Jack Reacher, the man-with-no-middle-name, embody many men?
I'm surprised people that are interested in books don't take the opportunity to step back and recognise the multi-cultic hogwash that has made contemporary literary criticism so predictable and boring. So much criticism I see and read, myself included, is completely bollocks, but as essays (or assays), they’re still a wonder to read.
There are so many blatant untruths about human nature that people are expected to recite whenever they say anything that it just takes the edge out of everything, even when it comes to Lee Child and his Jack Reacher.
It's not unknown for writers of fiction to develop many characters over time, in order for them to have more structure, content, more substance, capable of exuding humanity from the innately indifferent pages of a novel. So, Pessoa was obsessed with character, a creative artist who took aspects of his art much further than anyone else? Look at a wide range of those who have or are considered to be the greats, Picasso, Dali, the great musicians and composers, most of them could have been considered obsessive in one way or another ... even Dulce Pontes could be called of as healthily obsessive with perfection, i.e. to the right degree .... I think this used to be called "hard work and perseverance" as well as "talent" and "creativity". I suspect both Pessoa and Lee Child may prove more reliable than cyberspace at delineating humanity's ever-changing face.
To be able to construct a persona to explore and reveal a way of thinking and feeling is an art, be it Bernardo Soares, Álvaro de Campos or Lee Child. Pessoa’s life was all about seeing the multiplicity of mind while Child’s is all about the down-to-earthness of mind. The great tragedy of many human lives is that so many minds are too lazy to explore themselves. Very few people create true heteronyms: mostly, through multiple pseudonyms, they return to the same few obsessions, quirks of style, political or philosophical beliefs. Following a few supposedly shifting personae over the years has for me rather reaffirmed the idea of an irreducible core to most human subjects. Which in turn reaffirms the artistic skill of a Pessoa when opposed to someone like Child, i.e., someone able to write somehow from a point "outside himself" not once but multiple times. Child can only write Jack-Reacher-Lee-Child novels while Pessoa can only write using Álvaro-de-Campos-Bernardo-Soares-Ricardo-Reis personas. Everyone develops different personas when writing. Even writing on this blog, the character that is presented isn't much like the myself url. In political discussions, I tend to strike a much more strident tone than is natural. In order to avoid the waffly “on the one hand this, on the other hand” that approach, attitudes are pared down and tend to the more radical than I actually am. In more light-hearted pieces, the sort of humour used is more suitable for the written word than for speech, so that is another persona of sort. I dare say this is very common with people writing reviews regularly, hence all the provocation that goes on.
The very fact that it is impossible, or at least extremely hard to arrive at a true voice (does such a thing even exist?) means that personae are unavoidable, deliberately or not.
To live as a persona attached to its narrow view of its world as WeAreTheWorld seems to do is so lacking in imagination. I imagine the fact that we respond to some books in a certain way give them validity in our own dull minds.
Or as the great philosopher Spike Milligan warned us:
“I talk to the trees. That's why they put me away.”
NB: Yep. I've read another Lee Child book. Deal with it! Yes, I'm looking at you, you trolls!