A couple of days ago there was an appeal at work for people to produce a top ten of their heroes. At first I thought it would be an easy project, ten minutes at most. But the longer I thought about it, the more I realised that I really didn’t respond to the world in that way. When I was a kid, I never really had a hero – no role model to aspire to. After a bit of thought, I came to the conclusion that for many people today, the whole concept seems dated. So instead, I decided to concentrate on people whose life or work has interested or inspired me.
- Jean Baudrillard
The first person I read who managed to take all the weirdness and fun of the world and collide it with philosophy. His take on transexuality, terrorism and cancer invigorated me when I got bored of academia.
- David Bowie
He taught me to swagger – and there is nothing more important than that – the ability to wander through the world, even for a few minutes, as if you were total, perfect and owned the world.
- Kim Deal
The Pixies were the first band to make me feel drop-dead cool, and while Frank Black was the main driving force behind them, Kim Deal kept the spirit of them alive with The Breeders. I met her once, and asked her to write a sexy autograph for a friend of mine. She grinned, wrote “Fenner, FUCK ME, Kim Deal” and then disappeared. How cool is that?
- Sigmund Freud
The biggest name on my list should be read by everyone. His less plausible ideas are now ridiculed, while the rest have been gradually transformed into “common sense”. Whatever your opinions, his insight was astonishing, and his ability to work through a problem unprecedented.
- Sam Mendes
American Beauty appeared in my life at a rather difficult time, and in the course of a couple of hours managed to resolve almost every worry that I had. Since then, new problems have arisen, but the experience of watching a nearly perfect piece of art remains.
- Grant Morrison
What can I say – the writer of comic book The Invisibles co-opted my mind about five years ago and has yet to let go. His work ranges in quality and cohesion, but never fails to head-fuck.
- Derek Powazek
One of the most important areas of my life is my presence on the web, and I think I can be completely honest in saying that would not have been the case without Derek’s work. Web god of fray, kvetch.com and sfstories.com – he is probably responsible for more wannabe sites on the net than anyone else.
- Luke Rheinhart
Much more than any of the theoreticians I have read, Luke Rheinhart’s The Dice Man opened up the idea of personal transformation (through disintegration) to me. His ideas and humour created a world in which there was only possibility.
- Kurt Vonnegut
He wrote many books, but by far the most life-changing (for me) were Slaughterhouse 5 and Timequake. He is to science fiction, what Salman Rushdie is to the fantasy novel, and his insight burns with thrilling intellectual gambits and a jet black humour.
- Noah Wyle
I was 24, thinking about leaving my doctorate and terrified of what was to come. And so rather than think about it, I watched ER, where Doctor John Carter was in exactly the same situation as I was. And he was almost exactly a year older than me, and he was beautiful. It’s a strange choice I know, but what can I say?