In Ancient Greek mythology, Apollo represents order, law, beauty, reason. Dionysus represents chaos, drunkness, primal instincts, sexual urges. The battle between them is one of order versus chaos.
And the sources I mentioned above frame the battle between Batman and the Joker as one of order versus chaos.
What is very interesting to me is that in every Batman versus Joker movie/show I’ve seen so far, Batman is always framed solidly as the source of good, and while the Joker (who is obviously evil) may wreak havoc for a while, before law and order get restored at the end of the day.
Yet Todd Phillips’ Joker tells a different story.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a sympathetic Joker. While the things he does are certainly destructive and evil, the way the movie plays out, we the audience, the typical proletariat layman living in the day-to-day grind, we can actually find ourselves empathizing far more with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker than the Waynes (Batman’s parents) who isolate themselves from the problems of Gotham in their own world of wealth and privilege.
Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) is struggling to become a stand-up comedian in Gotham City in 1981. His day job is as a clown, in which he gets beat up by the hooligans on the mean streets of Gotham. He works this crappy job to take care of his ailing mother Penny (Frances Conroy). She calls him “Happy,” while deep down, Arthur is anything but. Yet he does his best to “smile and put on a happy face” to please her. But life has not been kind to Arthur. He’s had at least one stint at Arkham Asylum, was abused as a child, and because of his childhood abuse, suffers from a neurological disorder that causes him to break out in maniacal laughter whenever he is anxious or stressed (which is often). (Ars Technica)
Todd Phillips’ Joker is not a diabolical mastermind, but a troubled man who fell between the cracks of a society that has betrayed him. He goes to court-ordered therapy. But when the funding for that therapy gets cut, he has nowhere to go to get help or medication. And that’s when his further descent into violence and madness begins.
Eventually, he gets fired from his day job being a clown. And while still in clown makeup, he kills three Wallstreet executives on a train. The three men started to physically assault him because of his neurological disorder. When Arthur fights back, it’s self-defense at first. But when the third guy flees the scene, running and screaming for help, Arthur gleefully pursues and kills this man. No longer out of self-defense, but because it made him happy to do so.
Immediately after the attack, Thomas Wayne (Bruce Wayne’s dad) who is running for mayor, publically condemns these three murders. Yet many of the people of Gotham rejoice because they’re tired of living in poverty, and tired of living under a wealthy elite that clearly doesn’t care about them. Protesters put on clown paint, hold signs that say ‘Resist!’ and start rioting in the city.
End the end, Arthur Fleck makes the transition from an unsuccessful, lonely comedian who no one knows about, to becoming a symbol of the city’s Dionysian rage. He stands triumphant with a circle of protesters celebrating him, protesters who are burning and destroying the city. While Bruce Wayne and his parents flee this destruction, only for a masked protester to kill and rob his parents.
The Ancient Greek Bacchae is very similar. It is a story of drunkness, intoxication and self-destruction. In this story, the cult of Apollo reigns over all. It is a cult of order and society. Yet where it once represented ideas of enlightenment and knowledge, it later came to represent a politically corrupt authority, an authority that was drunk off of power and wealth. The ruling authority was a senile group that was far removed from the people and stuck in their own ways.
The God of chaos and hedonism, Dionysus, enters the situation to shake things up. There is a vacuum of power into which he surges. As a long-haired, non-conformist, he arrives at the capital city with an angry mob. This demigod is arrested, interrogated, mocked and thrown into prison.
Yet the authorities could not imprison the violent forces of the primeval. An earthquake leveled the royal palace, destroying the symbol of the Apollonian World Order. Wild women tore cattle to bits with their own hands. Then these women proceeded to dismember the current authorities just like cattle. They played ball with their arms and feet, and then impaled their heads on sticks.
While Todd Phillips’ Joker takes place in 1981, it relates far more to our world today than any other movie I’ve seen this year. I walked out of the movie theater with chills. The character of Arthur Fleck managed to personify a rage/nihilism/antipathy of an increasing number of people who feel that the forces of law/order/society are failing them. Fleck represents a rage that is a powder keg waiting to explode.
Though Todd Phillips’ movie is not at all a glorification of nihilism and violence. Clearly, the violence caused by Arthur Fleck’s insanity is shown as deranged and evil. Rather, the movie is a character study in how these traits arise and manifest in a man who society has abandoned.
Most of the African countries that exist today are a remnant of British and French colonial rule, where borders were often drawn arbitrarily.
This map shows the pre-colonial empires that existed. I think it might also be pre-Islamic.
As someone who was a huge fan of Game of Thrones for the nine years it was on television, I joined the rest of the television watching world by being incredibly disappointed and feeling betrayed by the rushed and thoughtless ending provided by the shows writers. It’s very clearly they were eager to just be done with the matter and go off to work on the new Star Wars trilogy, which I will not be watching because of this disaster.
People keep saying, “Oh, well they didn’t have time to make a good ending because they only had six episodes.” First of all, HBO would have given them as many episodes as they wanted.
But anyways, in the video above, the YouTube personality Overlord DVD, very eloquently describes how he would have written the last few episodes of Game of Thrones.
It’s so good. And if fulfills the prophesies of the story.
Even though there is a petition with over a million signatures to remake the ending of Game of Thrones, I doubt it will happen, because hundreds of millions of dollars would be needed for the purpose, and already the actors are going on to do other things.
I think it would be very possible for someone to animate the ending described in the video above. And if disappointed fans can’t have a remake, they could at least have an animation that fulfills that purpose.
Most people in the Judeo-Christian world are familiar with the tale of Eve. God put Adam and Eve in Eden, a paradise in which they would never want for anything, never struggle or suffer, and have all their needs taken care of (it’s the best Welfare plan one can imagine). But then Eve ruined it all by becoming tricked by Satan, who disguised himself as a snake, and tempted Eve to eat the fruit (apple) of knowledge. After that, Eve subsequently tempted her husband, Adam, to also eat the apple.
Since then, Judeo-Christian folk have blamed Eve, and by proxy the entire female gender for the fault of humanity inheriting original sin. Women are seen as more easily tempted by evil than men are. They are seen as evil temptresses to the menfolk, who must be constrained and controlled lest they lure men to sin.
(Interestingly, in Islam, the story is different. Eve and Adam were both tempted at the same time.)
But anyways, getting back to my point.
An example of this attitude of Eve blaming is quite abundant in the history of Western Literature.
In 1924, one JHR wrote an article entitled, “The Ugliness of Women.” JHR argues in his column that “in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man—a simple creature for all his passions and lusts—could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination.”
“No doubt,” he writes, “the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.”
Much earlier, Tertullian, a prolific Christian writer (155-240 CE) in the Roman province of Carthage, was just one of many to expand upon the biblical account of Eve to further denigrate women:
And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die…Woman, you are the gate to hell.
However, is this castigation of the entire female gender, and Eve herself really fair?
When you think about it, Eve (a simple being without knowledge) was tempted by Satan, the Lord and Master of all Evil. Expecting her to resist such trickery is a tall order. Whereas her husband was simply tempted by her. Who really made the bigger mistake?
Also, is it possible that the Judeo-Christian tale of Eve in Eden is a subversion of an older tale that might have placed Eve (or whoever the original female character was) in a better light?
EVE’S ASSOCIATION WITH ASHERAH, A SEMITIC TREE GODDESS
Look into the mother goddess Asherah, she was the consort of the God Yahweh, Yahweh which is the Hebrew name of God in the bible. At this point you might be saying, “Yahweh didn’t have a wife.” But in earlier, pagan times, he did. This role gave her high status in the Ugaritic pantheon (a Canaanite religion, an ancient Semitic religion of the people in the ancient Levant.) However, in Deuteronomy 12, Yahweh demands the destruction of her shrines to maintain the purity of his worship (that’s one brutal divorce).
What is interesting is that Asherah is associated with groves and trees. The association with Asherah in the Hebrew Bible with trees is very strong.
For example, she is found under trees (1K 14:23; 2K 17:10) and is made of wood by human beings (1K 14:15, 2K 16:3-4). Trees described as being an asherah or part of an asherah include grapevines, pomegranates, walnuts, myrtles, and willows (Danby:1933:90,176).
Some scholars have found an early link between Asherah and Eve, based upon the coincidence of their common title as “the mother of all living” in Genesis 3:20through the identification with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat.
Asherah poles, which were sacred trees or poles, are mentioned many times in the Hebrew Bible. The Asherah pole was prohibited by the Deuteronomic Code which commanded “You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God.”
In the story of Adam and Eve, the fact that Eve procures wisdom from a tree is twisted into a tale of the “downfall” of mankind. But perhaps in the Pre-Israelite, Ugaritic religion, Asherah was seen as a source of wisdom (in a positive way). And when the monotheistic and more patriarchal religion of the Israelites developed, perhaps the tale was subverted in order to paint the divine feminine as a villain, rather than a hero, as she may originally have been.
THE TALE OF EDEN MAY DERIVE FROM SUMERIAN MYTH
Enki, one of the early gods of the Sumerians, was believed to have lived in a place near an aquifer, which was called the “Sweet Waters God.” He lived in Dilmun, “the pure clean and bright land of the living, the garden of the Great Gods and Earthly paradise” which was located eastward in Eden.
Ninhursag was a female goddess. In the story, she feels the waters of Enki within her and asks him to tend to her earthly body and provide waters for it. He responds willingly and creates waters and streams which allow great vegetation to grow. She leaves for the winter to prepare for the spring and all it brings to the earth.
I won’t get into the whole story, but it eventually involves Enki eating some seeds, one of which is a “tree plant.” He becomes sick and complains of a rib pain. Ninhursag responds with the incantation “to the goddess Ninti, the Lady of the Rib and the One who makes Live, I have given birth for you to set your rib free.” The Sumerian word “ti” means both “rib” and “life.” In Genesis, the word Eve means life but the Hebrew word for rib is different, thus missing the pun in the Sumerian version.
In the ancient, Pre-Israelite, pagan religions of the Middle East, female goddesses were associated with life and wisdom. It is my belief that the story of Eve captured in the bible intentionally subverted the power women once had in the region, in order to paint Eve as a villain. But even if she is a villain, she gave the gift of knowledge to mankind, and I, for one, am quite thankful for that gift.