Can someone please break down that sentence of Alan Moore for me? I can understand that it somehow means that who has the same function as what or something like that but I don't understand how that structure means that, I would also appreciate other examples of such structure. I also understand something like I'm but a very brilliant guy to mean that I am nothing but a brilliant guy.

This is from the movie V for vendetta where Evey asks V(it's a name of a man who always wears a mask) about who he is when they first meet.

Evey: Who are you? V. : Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.

  • There isn't a sentence there. Could you actually quote the sentence, please? – Andrew Leach May 26 '18 at 19:19
  • some context would also be very helpful. – Hellion May 26 '18 at 19:32

It is just a cryptic/clever/verbose way of saying that "who are you" just means "what are you" ("who" is just another word for / has the same function as "what"). To which he responds that he is just a man in mask.

Form follows function is a term from 20th century modernist architecture, and has influenced many aspects of modern design.


These people almost have it.

What he's really saying, and this can apply to anything, is that WHAT needs to be determined before a WHO.

He's saying WHO follows WHAT, so you need to know the WHAT before the WHO.

It's kind of like when people try to give characteristics to a god. You can't do that.. until you know WHAT it is.. because the WHAT has to come first.

The V dude wants to be known as the WHAT, which comes FIRST before the WHO. He wants to not apply the WHO and only apply what SHOULD come first only - the WHAT.

Get it? :)

  • I haven’t seen V for Vendetta, but that is certainly not how I would interpret the sentence. In form follows function, the point is not sequentiality, but relative importance. V here is saying that who he is secondary to what he is – it’s less important than it and gives way to it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 9 at 17:17

"Who" is the person, the human. "What" is his meaning, is "the idea" (which is bulletproof, as we see later), his vocation. The vocation creates the human. The message here is that we should put our meaning in life before our personal wishes.


It means Who a person doesnot matter. What matters is what he/she does. What function that person performs. "What we do counts and who we are follows from that

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