Understanding how Arthur Fleck becomes JOKER
“The Joker Philosophy In A Loveless World”
What is it like, to wade in your darkness and ride the violent chain reactions of your actions? The latest attempt to understand the iconic villain of the Batman Universe, ‘The Joker’, has once again endowed the character with gritty realism, mirroring the horror and liberation of our own personal demons on the movie screen.
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker shows the origin of evil in a loveless world, how the underbelly of society can create its own monstrous avatar.
The ‘emotional tether’ philosophy states that people can bear the cruelty, unfairness, isolation and indifference of their social and professional lives, if they are tethered to an emotional constant. For many of us, the tether is our parents, siblings, spouse and/or other relatives and friends, who help us nurse the wounds from the slings and arrows of the world.
Every superhero possesses that tether to reconnect with sanity as they wade through their and the world’s darkness. Batman has Alfred who repeatedly reminds him that the Caped Crusader is Bruce Wayne’s attempt to conquer the chaos of his world. Superman has his mother Martha Kent, Spiderman has his aunt May, Iron Man has his wife Pepper, and there is a universe of characters who play the voices of reason and are the sources of love which keep heroes on the side of order, justice and humanity.
In the poverty-stricken projects of Gotham city, with no handle on a job and a fleeting aspiration to be famous, Arthur Fleck struggles on, caring for his sick mother, creating phantoms of relationships to fill the voids in his life, taking whatever help he can from the city government’s fledgling mental healthcare program.
“The ‘Joker’ emerges when he loses that one tether, the mother-son bond that turns out to be a fraud, a trauma that eviscerates his identity, his real and delusional ties to others, and most importantly, his fear of cause, consequence, order and death.”
Apostles of chaos
The Joker represents the perfect symbol of Nihilism, highlighting that civilisation can create its own agents of destruction – the forgotten, nameless, faceless class of the urbanised world, who find no fairness or empowerment in society, and who choose to seek purpose as apostles of chaos.
Joker is the emperor of nothing and unburdened by dogma, becoming the ultimate agent of disorder. There is no search for a greater mystery, only pursuit of power, by tearing down socio-political institutions of human administration, as they seem meaningless. Power in futility is the ethos of the Joker. The acceptance of the meaninglessness of existence and the rejection of the fear of authority or code is his enlightenment and inspiration. The more comprehensible and mechanical his universe, the more pointless it becomes, and the more powerful his resolve to upend it.
Joker romanticises nihilism because he doesn’t see a significant purpose in life anymore and everything seems meaningless to him. Since he sight life to be unfair to him, he resort to uncivil means to dethrone authorities and seek power. He becomes so inebriate in his ambition and aspirations that he obliterates the very ‘principles of equality’ with which he began.
Times of India, Editorial