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 Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie )

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PostSubject: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:43 pm

Ever since the Dark Knight film has been released, I've been fascinated with the character of the Joker. I suppose I can relate to him in some sense, that is to say, his iconoclasm.

In this post, I will attempt to psychoanalyze the Joker.

Let's begin with his history, it's relatively unknown. Nobody knows what his real name is or where he came from. And to top it off, when he does mention things of his past, i.e., how he got his scars, he tells various stories which often contradict each other.



But there is one underlying consistent theme which he mentions and insinuates more than once: his hatred for his father.
In his first story of how he received his facial scars, he stated that his abusive father put a knife in his mouth and said " Let's put a smile on that face !".

Father figures are symbols of authority and order; they are the ones that uphold the household and provide/protect the mother and children. The Joker, seemingly, had a very bad and abusive father, thus the Joker grew a hatred for authority and order of which the father figure symbolizes. The joker projected his hatred for his father into abstractions: Order, Government, Paternalism, authority, Justice, rules, etc.

This is why the Joker is so obsessed with Batman who is the incarnation of order, authority, and justice. Batman represents everything that the Joker hates.

The Joker is symbolic of chaos, anarchy, amorality, and entropy. The Joker represents, primarly, the feminine aspects of existence hence the smeared lipstick and makeup on his face. And not to mention his innate deceptiveness and ability to mind-fuck other individuals ( very feminine characteristics ).



The battle between Batman and the Joker represents a cosmic struggle; Order vs Chaos, Justice vs Injustice, morality vs amorality, Masculinity vs Femininity, Government vs Rebellion, etc.

So the Joker is motivated by his intense desire to destroy order and justice. This is what gives meaning to his existence. He does not care about money, social status, or any other conventional human concern or preoccupation.



The Joker doesn't just do things for no logical reason as Batman's butler and the Joker himself insinuate. First, when the Joker told Harvey Dent that he is like a dog chasing cars - that he just does things ( with no motivation or reason ), he lied. The Joker is a joker after all; you can't take everything he says seriously, thus making his prior claim " I am a man of my word " ironic and not ironic at the same time. The Joker is clearly motivated, as prior mentioned, by a will to destroy all symbols of order, justice, and authority. But the Joker wants to have fun while doing this; he wants to make it into a game. He desires to utterly humiliate his enemies by stripping them of their moralistic ideals. And this is why he won't just kill Batman right away. The Joker tries to get Batman to abandon his code of ethics. He wants to make Batman " sin " akin to the way Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the biblical stories. This sort of behavior is also seen in females and how they try to test male's masculinity ( shit tests ). These females will try to get you to submit to them, that is to say, emasculate you. But the more you resist and defeat their tactics, the more they become attracted to you as you assert your dominance. And once you submit to them, i.e., abandon your masculinity, they will lose attraction for you. The game will be over for them; no more fun.

Conventional, Western psychologists would diagnose the Joker as having a sociopathic personality disorder intermingled with a general misanthropy for civilized people. But I'm not some idiotic, Western shrink that presupposes a slave morality of good and evil. There is nothing, inherently, wrong or 'evil' about the Joker. Sociopathy is a social construct, that is to say, it only has its weight in society. In the jungle, for instance, such notions of sociopathy, morality, good and evil, etc are absurd. If anything, the Joker is more sane than the citizens of Gotham and dare I say of Batman too? You see, the Joker realized the divine comedy of civilization; that people put on a pretense of " The divine humanity ", i.e., that people, deep down inside, are nasty and cruel, but wear masks of civility to hide it. The Joker is not bound by the slave morality of the herd; he sees it for what it is....a cosmic joke. The Joker is well aware of the, ultimate, amorality and absurdity of existence. The Joker makes this known to Batman in the interrogation scene.




The cosmic irony is this: The Joker is, really, the sane one and Batman is the delusional one. Batman fights for Justice - for righteousness. And not only that, but he goes around in a giant bat suit to defend these socially constructed, arbitrary, subjective concepts that don't have any objective substance in reality. In essence, he is fighting for an insanity - for imaginary ideals. But Batman is stubborn and relentless. He won't let go off these infantile ideals of righteousness, justice, objective morality, etc. Batman, in this sense, is anti-nature while the Joker, in this context, is life-affirming.

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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:11 pm

Batman and Joker are the schizophrenic parts of the modern psyche.

One, Batman (feminine, attraction to order, to the Apollonian), the outward, the public persona; the irony of pretending to be your own master, while totally under the control of an external authority.
The other, Joker (masculine attraction to chaos, to the Dionysian), the inward, the private persona; the irony of being your own master, rejecting all external authorities.

Batman pretends to be master of himself, hiding from himself and others, what he is - taking himself much too seriously.
Joker pretends not to be master of himself, hiding from others, what he is - mocking himself.

Their fight is an internal struggle for dominance.
They are both "freaks" because both are part of the same becoming, the same emerging unity (self, system, society, world, existence) experienced by otherness as the unknown, alien.

Batman is also misunderstood and not trusted by otherness, even while he fights on their behalf, or so he tells himself.
Joker is more honest, more aware, he is masculine, believe it or not, because he does not buy into the social bullshit but knows that underneath all that civility is pure selfishness and chaos.
He is in control, because he does not lie to himself about those others all around him, nor about his own motives.

He creates scenarios where the shared lie is exposed ...like any satyr would.
Joker relates to Batman, seeing in him an overman (one who has overcome resentment for his own temporarily; his fear of death) who has deluded himself.
He goes to great lengths to show Batman who he truly is in relation to otherness.  

Batman must come out at night and wear a mask not only so as to not be recognized, the wrath of the good people may turn against him, but also so as to preserve the illusion of righteousness: the anonymous benefactor, the wealthy man who does it all on principle not for a reward.  

Joker's story telling can be a way of avoiding psychoanalysis or the easy way in which he can be explained suing some childhood experience. The story changes because he is toying with the audience and their need to explain his "madness" using some common, popular, theme.
His rejection of his father is a rejection of an authority over him.
He does not deny his father, he IS his father.

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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:04 pm

Yes, the Joker does have some masculine characteristics and Batman has some feminine characteristics. It depends on which angle you view the picture, e.g., In the sense of viewing the Joker and Batman as Order vs Chaos, Batman represents order ( masculine ) and the Joker represents chaos ( feminine ). But if you alter the image, you will see the gender roles reversed, i.e., as you prior mentioned, the joker doesn't buy into any of the social bullshit or slave morality ( this rejection of slave morality is very masculine - very realistic. ) and Batman is submissive to the slave morality ( feminine characteristic ).

Yes, he is his own father, that is to say, he is his own boss - no authority figure over him to dictate his beliefs and actions. But I do still strongly believe his biological father abused him, thus creating his abhorrence for external authority and order.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:40 pm

We have to keep in mind that these comic book characters are still part of pop-culture, and they carry with them the propaganda of the established system.

Like Superman, who was originally created to mock German ideals about the super-man race, was turned into a symbol of Judeo-Christian conformity, adopting the fable about Moses and how he cast upon the Nile river.
Superman could easily defend himself against bullies, without exposing his superpowers, but instead he is made to endure the punishment and the embarrassment of being beaten up daily.

Batman is despised by the people he wants to protect. A Jesus-like character, there to save those who then crucify him. Only batman never submits to the crucifixion itself.
He is the ideal Capitalist man: rich, but benevolent, selfish but in the service of a greater good.

Joker is the slandering of the male: violent, without compassion, lying, anarchistic, to the point of madness.
He is a chaos threatening the good people of Gotham.
No matter how corrupt the system is the alternative is Joker.

Batman defends the status quo, showing himself to be effete, but also goes beyond the acceptable lines - the Neo character in The Matrix who sacrifices himself to wake the sleepers, who then are the ones who betray him.
Joker is not all about chaos. He is chaos, nihilistic, only in relation to the people of Gotham.

He tells Batman repeatedly how they are one and the same.
To the herd any creature living outside the fences would be a satanic, mythological, frightening entity: a Devil incarnate.
He is what Satan has always been, the scapegoat for all their own failings, and fears.

To use another way of seeing it:
Batman is the sheepdog, and the Joker is the wolf. The sheepdog has more in common with the wolf than the sheep, but he still defends the sheep by fighting wolves away.  
Why?
Because like all dogs it is domesticated, and he places a master, a shepherd, above himself.
He defends the herd of sheep because he too feeds on them, and serving his master, the moral code or some secret power, offers him rewards and a purpose.

Those two characters are the most interesting of all the comic books figures.
They lend themselves to so much symbolism.
Other comic book characters are more two-dimensional ...like Superman. He's one of the most boring characters of all.

-------------------

Both the characters of Batman and The Joker represent the exceptional and how it relates to the common.
Batman is about being born in privilege, and is about technologies and techniques.
He learns martial arts; he is helped by martial technologies.
He serves the herd he depends upon, and then offers moral validations for working outside the acceptable rules.

The Joker is about innate qualities, as these are shaped by circumstances, chance events.
He is born with charisma, and something terrible has happened to him, as is evident from his facial scarring, but he does not use it to excuse himself and to validate his actions. He actually plays with the common practice of trying to explain actions that contradict the "common good" by using psychology.
In this case it is the father's fault, because men must be vilified.

Only a man could have created such a monster, only a male's activities, only a father could screw-up a child this badly.
Joker plays with this prejudice, telling others what would be the most believable to them, and the audience receives another dose of male-bashing.
He changes his story around toying with human stupidity ...or is it to speak his truth by including it amongst lies?
Perhaps Joker's secret is that his mother is to blame, or nobody is to blame. He is what he is because it is in his nature.
He is what lays hidden within each and every one of those he kills and toys with.

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Last edited by Satyr on Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:53 pm

Satyr wrote: " Like Superman, who was originally created to mock German ideals about the super-man race, was turned into a symbol of Judeo-Christian conformity, adopting the fable about Moses and how he cast upon the Nile river.
Superman could easily defend himself against bullies, without exposing his superpowers, but instead he is made to endure the punishment and the embarrassment of being beaten up daily."

This is very true. I remember watching an older superman show ( Smallville ), and the main villain, Lex Luthor, in one of the scenes talked about how he read Nietzsche's Will to Power as a teenager and how the book inspired him greatly. The Superman ( Overman ) is , originally, Nietzsche's idea, but as you already stated, it has been bastardized by Judeo-Christian nihilism.


Satyr wrote : " To use another way of seeing it:
Batman is the sheepdog, and the Joker is the wolf. The sheepdog has more in common with the wolf than the sheep, but he still defends the sheep by fighting wolves away.  
Why?
Because like all dogs it is domesticated, and he places a master, a shepherd, above himself.
He defends the herd of sheep because he too feeds on them, and serving his master, the moral code or some secret power, offers him rewards and a purpose."


I like this analogy. Very good.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:57 pm

Primal Rage wrote:
Yes, he is his own father, that is to say, he is his own boss - no authority figure over him to dictate his beliefs and actions. But I do still strongly believe his biological father abused him, thus creating his abhorrence for external authority and order.
Maybe. But then his father would have had a tremendous influence on him - shaping him to become what he is now. So much for escaping that authority, that influence. ... If that's the motivation why he does what he does.

Inheritance is a bitch. But certain qualities can be realized in different ways. A potential for aggression, for example, can be expressed in different ways. I believe that sons are at risk to rebel against the perceived negative qualities of their fathers in the way of denouncing them completely.

Not honoring it - like, making something better, out of that quality.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:05 pm

Anfang: "Maybe. But then his father would have had a tremendous influence on him - shaping him to become what he is now. So much for escaping that authority, that influence. ... If that's the motivation why he does what he does. "

Our current personalities are the result of nature, that is to say, the sum of all past nurturing. I don't think the Joker's father's intention was to create a rebellious, mastermind that rises above good and evil. I think the Joker's father wanted his son to be submissive to his authority ( like Batman is submissive to slave morality ) and to be filled with fear. But the Joker is no coward ( he laughed in the face of death ) and he is definitely not submissive to an symbolic Father figure.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:42 pm

It's not about the intentions of his father though.
We are born with a certain potential - how that unfolds over a lifetime is in our hands... and those who influence us (the environment).
How much did the Joker allow his father to shape him?... In which ways?
The point is, if his father would have been nice - would the Joker still be who he is? That rebellious one, being fearless to the point of madness.
Is the Joker someone who broke and became mad or is he what he is supposed to be.
An analogy -
Was he born a bunny who grew up believing to being a tiger? Or is he a tiger who belives that he's a tiger?

I think he's a tiger. But then his father's actions can't be the main contributor for him being him. His fathers genes, yes, but not his influence.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:27 pm

Good questions, Anfang.

I think just about everyone has the potential to be ruthless like the Joker, but in various degrees. The Joker had a very fucked up childhood from his Father and I imagine people bullied him too because of his scars ( probably calling him a freak and what not ), so that adds even more fuel to the fire. I think both genes and memes play a part in shaping an individual. The Joker represents the primal side of existence. We all have that primal side, but for many, it's locked up in memetic shackles unable to express itself. The Joker's early, traumatic experiences unleashed an inner, raging, primal force of chaos and destruction - of misanthropy. The Joker embraces his nature fully. He has no objective reason to suppress it; he doesn't subscribe to self-denying slave morals. His father was sociopathic, so it's very logical that he passed that on to the Joker genetically. It seems like both genes and memes played a major role in the creation of the Joker.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:36 am

Primal Rage wrote:
he doesn't subscribe to self-denying slave morals.
That's the question... is he a slave to his father's indoctrination or does he do what he does because of himself. How well does he know himself? Because being a force of destruction does not automatically mean that he is not denying his self or parts of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:49 pm

The joker and batman do have similar outlooks; they just cling onto different coping mechanisms. These are ever returning themes as they are largely relevant within the current zeitgeist as a result of the the death of god. You can draw great parallels between Watchmen and The Dark Knight. Rorschach is a realistic version of Batman - a neurotic, obsessive and antisocial vigilante. Likewise the Comedian serves as a different kind of Joker - a charming, relativistic, hedonistic; existential nihilist. Both Two-Face and Doctor Manhattan are spectators; they take what they will from the two characters and make up their own minds - in this they are the same as the audience.

Rorschach/Batman Philosophy



Joker/Comedian Philosophy


Both acknowledge the same game that's being played and draw different conclusions. Rorschach with a heightened sense of responsibility, self-righteousness and an overall disgust for the degenerate public, motivated by a need of redemption. The Joker recognizing the game; enjoy's toying with people and exposing their hypocrisy.
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PostSubject: Re: Psycho-analysis of the Joker ( Dark Knight movie ) Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:38 am

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