Virtues of Moriarty & the Joker (Flavor of the Week)

Moriarty & the Joker

Virtues of Moriarty & the Joker

WARNING SPOILERS: For Sherlock The Dark Knight

You need me or you’re nothing because we’re just alike you and I, except you’re boring… you’re on the side of the angels…you’re ordinary” –James Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes

Psychopaths like Moriarty (Andrew Scott) & the Joker (Heath Ledger) are not normally the first people we turn to when extolling the virtues of human behavior, especially when they seem to take pleasure in physically/psychologically torturing others with no regard to human life. But they do have their virtues which coincidentally hinge upon their refusal to entertain or play by the accepted mores of society. They relish the fact that they are not one of the ordinary or boring people on the side of the angels.

You see their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be…I’ll show you, when the chips are down these civilized people they’ll eat each other. You see I’m not a monster…I’m just ahead of the curve” – The Joker to Batman

The Joker believes there are no angels…not truly. Civilized people are only actors who adhere to a plan to control society; an overarching scheme set up to ensure order does not fall into chaos. You see, the civility of humans, the assimilation of our thoughts and behavior, causes us to become behaviorally boring and predictable. We fall into a trap, a life sized hamster wheel, that ensures we play out the repetitive cycle of life just as the society we’re born into ordains. But there is a purpose to this predetermined domestication.

Humanity thrives off of altruism and cooperation; we are hardwired to love and care about each other for the betterment of humankind. Even babies are born with a moral code and sense of compassion. And recent discoveries suggest that the rise of human culture/modern society coincides with a significant drop in testosterone levels for men. Testosterone is a chemical that causes animals (including men) to become aggressive by nature for the sake of reproduction, dominance and survival. But these volatile tendencies also lead to higher levels of conflict within a society inhibiting its ability to grow and develop over time.

Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn” Alfred referencing the Joker

So why…why do characters like Moriarty and the Joker chastise and take pleasure in upsetting the balance of civilized society? Why do they look upon ordinary people with such disdain and contempt while relishing the thought of watching the world burn? They’re boredand boredom, ironically, is their greatest virtue.

I want to solve the problem, our problem, the final problem…staying alive. It’s so boring isn’t it!?! It’s just staying. All my life I’ve been searching for distractions…” –Moriarty to Sherlock

As hunger is to the body; boredom is to the mind. And just like hunger, boredom is tortuously painful for a reason. The feeling of being bored can lead to self-destructive tendencies but…it also can increase levels of creativity which leads to innovation, curiosity, exploration and discovery of new places, ideas and realities. In truth, boredom is one of our greatest assets for intellectual growth and development.

Boredom expands the reach of human potential by causing us to daydream and wonder about our world in ways no other species on the planet has the intellectual capacity to consider. Where do we come from? Why are we here? Will the Falcons ever win a Super Bowl? Philosophical and scientific ponderings, alike, are our natural response to boredom and curiosity. The Problem with which Moriarty refers to in ‘staying alive’ does not reflect a person with suicidal tendencies and thoughts but rather, it is a reference to the problematic nature of an inert human society.

The human species was never meant to stay anything; we were not born to regurgitate the same life cycle over and over and over again. Our minds possess the capacity to push past our limits and to dig deeper into the questions and mysteries of life. It is our capacity to be infinitely curious about the things around us and within us, which has led to our ability to assimilate and adapt the world to our desire. Boredom is a driving force to intellectual development; it is a link to innovative thought that can be severed if we fall into inert patterns of living. Moriarty & the Joker are drawn to characters like Sherlock and Batman because they are out of the ordinary…they refuse to be civil and domesticated. They are not driven by the societal pressures to conform and assimilate to the accepted norms and purpose of life.

But I’m not my brother, remember…I am you…prepared to do anything…prepared to burn…prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell then I will not disappoint you…I may be on the side of the angels but don’t think for one second I’m one of them.” – Sherlock to Moriarty

Don’t talk like you’re one of them! You’re not, even if you’d like to be. To them you’re just a freak, like me.” – The Joker to Batman

Batman and Sherlock are not quite at the level of being psychopaths like Moriarty and the Joker but they’re only a step away…they’re sociopaths. They step outside the bounds of society in order to accomplish a goal and they do not necessarily need or desire society’s approval to commit the actions they do for their own sense of justice (Batman) or entertainment (Sherlock). To the Moriarty and Jokers of the world, Batman and Sherlock are the perfect playground buddies because they are the ones who’ve come the closest to achieving their level of super sanity. These villains see the world in a way boring, ordinary people cannot and this leads to their final virtues…

Why are you doing all this? You don’t want money or power, not really” – Sherlock to Moriarty

All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal and I’m going to give it to them…it’s not about money, it’s about sending a message…everything burns” – The Joker

Money…the end all, be all in a capitalistic society; the very definition of survival and power in our civilization. But the Joker and Moriarty could not care less about the established purpose of wealth and the accumulation of power because they’re both extra-ordinary. If they so desired they could have money at the blink of an eye because they don’t play the game, they run the game. So what do men, who have everything, desire most…a new challenge. And what does a society built on wealth and power, need next…a new purpose, a new adventure because the pursuit of wealth, family and power do not reflect the apex of human potential or purpose.

I will burn you…I’ll burn the heart out of you” – Moriarty to Sherlock

Everything burns…that is the message; the purpose…to destroy everything that keeps you holding on to whatever fantasy you possess in life. That is what a true arch-nemesis does; they challenge you to be more. They constantly force you to confront realities you may not be prepared to face. Our minds desperately cling to the world of our beliefs, dogmas, political views and personal biases that provide the foundation upon which our identities are built. But sometimes in order to be more, achieve more, you must destroy the world you’ve become accustomed to.

Batman and Sherlock were pushed to the limits of their morality/worlds forcing them to adapt, lie, bend the rules but ultimately thrive after being challenged by their greatest rivals. As in The Matrix; ordinary people cannot do this, they are not ready to watch their world burn, they are slow to let go of the fantasy. They need to cling to their beliefs, identities and expectations of life because sometimes the lie is more important than the truth. But for those who’ve become bored with the institutionalized illusions of civil society, a new challenge is required for these Neos because the mundane cycle/purpose of life is not enough…they’re no longer with the angels.

This post marks the first in a three part blog series that will explore the collective psychological drive of humanity in an attempt to answer the question ‘what is the next step for the human species; what are we biologically inclined to do?’. The subject matter in this three part series was originally intended to be a follow up piece to my essay Exposure Theory but I’ve decided to break it down into blog posts so it’s easier to consume and more engaging/entertaining.

Not exactly sure when the second post will be finished (hopefully no more than a couple of weeks) but please sign up or like Soul of Suw on Facebook to be notified when the next post drops. Also, if you feel so inclined, explore the rest of this site and discover how the music of OutKast inspired the creation of the mythology, Soul of Suw.

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