What better way to spend a snowy day in the Rockies than to analyze the components of media pop-culture? The Dark Knight was finally released on video this week. And I now feel obliged to put in my commentary on one of the best villains ever. Let’s face it; villains are fascinating. Villains are not only the reason’s heroes exist, they define our most iconic heroes and mirror the complexities and darkness of our own lives.
But what else, what are the archetypes. Deconstruct the Joker, take away his violence and you have al-Khidr or any crazy mystic in comic style, the wrench thrower, the coyote, you can even keep the violence and he is Bhairava (sans-matted hair). The Joker character is another incarnation of Tyler Durden brought out of the split-psyche of humanity, the side ruled by chaos and destruction, a veritable force of nature whose only impetus is to derail the constructive impulse. I would say the Joker could almost be a budding Milarepa cutting away the constructs of religion to attain the heart of knowledge, except he falls short accepting the tried/true societal conditioning of evil, wreaking mayhem with violence and destruction, the expected norm of evil and fear. No, the transcendent models of chaos logic are the ones that pull the cultural rug out and flip standardized norms in a way that cannot easily be pinned down.
I immediately think of Neem Karoli Baba and Chogyam Trungpa whose lives and stories refuse to be bound by strict moralities and must either be quantified as divine impulse or shear madness. I would not advocate we all begin a regimen of erratic, irrational behavior but perhaps it would do good to occasionally consider our “normal” worlds, however they are defined, and see what madness informs our reality. Is it not madness that we condone capital punishment, idolize narcissism, anorexia, and that many believe our personal comforts and privileges are more important than the preservation of our life support system i.e., the earth. But that’s a soapbox moment, back to the Joker. In the final analysis, this character inspires awe, fear, and confusion because he exhibits disinterest towards the trite and over simplistic concepts of good and evil we so often cling to and scoffs at attempted heroisms defined by chivalry and martyrdom. He embodies incorruptible chaos without logic, law, or code.