I would like to share with you all a moment in my life where I felt the value of living.
I am a big fan of comic books. When I was younger I would consume manga (Japanese comics) which led to my later love in life of American graphic novels and great American literature in general. My favorite graphic novelist is Alan Moore. If you’ve never heard of him I’m sure you’ve heard of some of his works. He’s the mind behind the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, Lost Girls, the Killing Joke, and Watchmen. He’s a wonderful man that paints pain and cynicism in a way that makes it almost appealing. He even made me fall in love with one of his psychopaths for a time.
Anyway, one of his greatest works is a short story he wrote for Batman called the Killing Joke. It’s a wonderful read that outlines the madness and insane wonder that takes place in the Joker’s mind as well as the endless struggle of Good vs Evil that Batman and the Joker so clearly represent. When I was in High school, around 17 years old, I was filled with hatred for my peers and younger siblings and the apathy they seemed to embody. At this time in my life I was the Joker, relating to him on a very personal level.
One day I was particularly angry with everything. I don’t remember what it was about that day, I just remember the feeling of uncontrollable rage and utter hopelessness. So I took the Killing Joke off the shelf and read it for what must have been my second dozenth time. As I read, I found comfort in the Joker’s words. He understood what it was like to be hated and to hate. He understood human beings on a level that I could only hope to through him. I agreed with every word he said, every speech, every point, every laugh and smile. I came to the point where he’s at his final showdown with Bats. The caped crusader blindly ran through the Joker’s fun house of horrors as the clown spouted off another a speech. I can still recite that speech today but I’ll spare you all the little details of their exchange. It was, at it’s most basic sentiment, about how everyone in the world is crazy just like him and that he’s more sane than anyone because he’s just the only one that will admit what a horridly fucked up place the world is. I got that. I really did. It made me smile to read it.
“It’s all a joke!” He’d said. “Everything anyone has ever valued or struggled for is all a demented monstrous gag. So why can’t YOU see the funny side? Why aren’t you laughing?”
At that point Batman bursts in through the fun house mirror behind him and says. “Because I’ve heard it before and it wasn’t funny the first time.” And then this is where the Batman completely destroyed me. He continued on by saying, “Incidentally, I spoke to Commissioner Gordon before following you in here. Despite all your sick and twisted little games, he’s still as sane as he ever was. So maybe ordinary people don’t always crack. Maybe there isn’t any need to climb under a rock with all the other sludge and slime when trouble hits.
Maybe it was just you the whole time.”
That struck me. Hard.
For a moment I began to see exactly what he meant. I had been letting my own fear and anger and judgement of people cloud the idea that things were not as bad as they seemed. For a small sliver of time I became the Batman, instilled with a sense of hope and realization that it was just me. All the pain and evil I perceived in the world was still there as it had always been but it suddenly felt lighter. The world is a horrible place. I know it is. But for a moment I realized that just because IT IS horrible doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful as well. I could only dwell on what I hated about the world rather than see it in it’s entirety, both good and bad.
I felt a little better about things from then on. I got out of High School, away from those people. I went to college and eventually flunked out but I did get a job afterwards and have been making good money. Things haven’t gotten better for me. They’re probably worse than they ever have been. My life is miles behind that realization now but I will never forget that moment where I could feel hope blooming inside me. I miss that feeling. I’ve done so many things to try to nurture it back to life but it’s far too weak and withered now.
I just thought I’d put it out there as a sign that there will be times when you can see the world clearly for what it is. I may not be able to any longer but you still can. I at least hope you still can.
Thank you for reading, friend.
Love and Peace