I watched The Dark Night a couple of days ago.
This is where I expect myself to say whether I liked it or not, and what I liked about it, but does it really matter?
I find it more interesting to mention one thing that stood out for me in the movie… the trickster role of the joker.
It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hm? You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
The joker plays the role of the trickster in the movie. The one who upsets our plans. Just as life does.
Where batman and the officials try to keep everything orderly and going according to plan, life – and the joker – reminds them that there is another side to life. We are not in control, even when it seems that we are. Life is just aligning with our shoulds for a short while.
Said another way, when we attach to stories as true, we go into a should about life. And life doesn’t follow our shoulds. Life doesn’t follow our opinions. Life is far more kind than that. Life shows us that our stories are just that, stories. They have no substance. No reality, even when we try to act as if they are real. They have no truth, apart from in the most limited sense of sometimes being useful guidelines for how to orient and function in the world.
Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair.
Yes, chaos – or life showing up differently from our shoulds – is fair. It goes against any and all stories we hold as true. And it does so for all of us.
You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
The joker is wise enough to recognize that both are needed. We need our stories. They do have a function as guidelines for how to function in the world. But we also need life to go against our stories, as it will, to remind us that they are only stories. Life is infinitely kind and patient in that way.
Batman: Why do you want to kill me?
The Joker: [laughs] Kill you? I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, you… you complete me.
And by the way, I did like his green vest. I have a similar one myself.