Saturday, August 11, 2012

An Exercise In Reading- The Joker

I once came across an interesting exercise in reading, and decided to give it a shot. Can you do a reading for someone that doesn't exist? A fictional character, for instance? This would work merely as an exercise in interpreting the cards, not really useful for anything else. So, just to clear out the cobwebs, I decided on a challenge- the Joker, DC Comics' snappy-dressing villain and Batman's chief nemesis.
So first, a little background- the Joker was not born a criminal. Actually, the story of his origin has him employed as a chemical engineer at Axis Chemicals, a career he later left to pursue one as a stand-up comic. This ultimately proved unsuccessful, and the man who was to become the Joker was coerced into working with a criminal gang known as the Red Hood Gang, where he himself wore a red hood and acted as the leader of the gang. The gang would regularly find someone to wear the hood (covering their face) and pretend to be the Red Hood, leading the police to look for a criminal who in reality did not exist. Married with a baby on the way, this person is never identified except by a first name, Jack. (Go figure.) Jack leads the Red Hood Gang to the Axis plant, where things go horribly wrong. Batman drops in on the robbery and Jack ends up falling into a vat of chemicals. Exactly what this chemical was is never explained, apart from being a cyanide-based toxin- this in part explains the Joker's grin, caused by nerve damage and muscle contraction in the face. Deformed and confused, Jack now learns that his wife and daughter are dead. This pushes him over the edge, making him in essence the ultimate nihilist. He blames Batman for his condition, and becomes the Joker, posessed of a brilliant mind and a sadistic wit combined with a desire for revenge on the world that took away everything he cared about He later goes on to synthesize the chemical that he himself was exposed to, with the difference that this version is almost always fatal, causing sever nervous damage, convulsions and uncontrollable laughter, as well as the facial muscle paralysis the Joker himself displays. Interestingly, a side effect of his exposure to the chemical is an immunity to it as well as most all other poisons. Psychologically, the Joker is not that difficult to figure out in terms of motives and rationale, or lack thereof. He literally has nothing to live for except causing pain to others, and this raison d'etre comes from his own loss of everything he cared about or loved. Apart from this, the Joker is interesting because he is completely random and senseless. His crimes often seem to have no rationale, and are not 'cost-effective'. The terrorism the Joker engages in is rarely for monetary gain or extortion. These things are simply a means to the end of wreaking havoc, making him a (pardon the pun) a wild card as far as the Tarot is concerned. How would you classify someone like that? What card would sum him up?
Judging from his intelligence and methodical nature, in terms of the Zodiac we could put him under Libra or Scorpio, as he combines a dramatic, public nature with an intelligent mind. However, all things considered he fits well into Aquarius. Here we have intelligence and independence, yet also emotional detachment and unpredictability, as well as a tendency towards theatrics. The emotional detachment can come from feeling too much, feeling too acutely. Instead of dealing with the powerful emotions, an Aquarius could instead put up a facade or defense mechanism- in the Joker's case, his psychopathic desire for revenge rather than coming to terms with what happened. So at least we have some explanation for why the Joker is the way he is.
So in doing a reading, I found out a few interesting things. I attempted a Horseshoe spread, seeing as most of my experience is reading for actual people, not fictional ones- keep it simple, as they say. Here are the results-
The first card in this spread is the Past- here was the 3 of Cups. Seeming to be a fairly Aquarian card, it points to family, and strong family ties. This seems to fit pretty well with what we know already- Jack worked hard for his family, and was a definite family man. He pursued the things that brought meaning to his life, and his desire to be a comic seems to indicate a desire to share laughter and happiness with other people.
The next card covers the Present- here was the Temperance card, reversed. Its upside-down position indicates that the balance and synthesis this card indicates are absent. Gee, really? There are actually two different aspects to this I found- first, that the Joker tends towards extremes. The loss of his family essentially brought his world, as well as his sanity, to an end. Unable to deal with the pain, the Joker found something to occupy his mind in the form of his desire for revenge against the world, and more specifically against Batman. Lacking balance in his own mind, the Joker cannot stop until he himself is destroyed- he has one pursuit, and one only. Instead of say, finding a balance between his desire for revenge and pursuing a more profitable criminal career, there's only the mad desire for revenge with him. Again, imbalance.
The next card indicates the Future, and here I found the 9 of Pentacles, also reversed. This points to pretty much nothing- things not working towards any end, and nothing left. In its upright position, the 9 would indicate success, enjoying things worked for. Reversed, we find no rewards for hard work, and no repose coming with that. The crimes the Joker has committed, and the things he has destroyed bring him no pleasure, because of that psychological imbalance. All that exists, it seems, is the desire to keep on destroying until there's nothing left, and there are no material rewards he's interested in, except as a means to further his own end.
The next position indicates the best course of action- here was the 4 of Swords, calling for a review and a rest. The suit of Swords indicates a logical and objective viewpoint- I'd take that to mean a call to examine himself- see why vengeance is that important, and in so doing, begin to come to terms with his losses and break down the walls he's put up against the pain of his losses. Remember that this is just the best course of action- advice, not what is necessarily going to happen. It's possible that this will never happen, that the damage is too extensive.
The next position, the fifth, indicates influences. Here was the 8 of Swords, indicating again intellect, but here the message is one of feeling trapped. The Joker may very well have some degree of awareness of his psychological makeup and its problems, but fears the mental anguish that would come from even beginning to acknowledge his loss and the pain he feels because of that. He's made himself invincible by not feeling pain, much as the toxin made him immune to poisons, but in both cases, it's at a terrible cost. Instead of changing and growing as a mentally sound person, the Joker has closed himself off and sticks only to what is 'comfortable' for him- that overwhelming and unrelenting desire for revenge and destruction.
Next is the obstacles position- those things that stand in the way of moving forwards, and keep us where we are. The card here was the Moon- the Joker's own perspective is so warped at this point from his own defense mechanisms, mostly in terms of blocking off emotionally, that he has come to see the world only this one way, in terms of hopelesness and despair. There is nothing to save in the Joker's world, and everyone deserves as much suffering as he can inflict on them. In part, this is to maintain mental consistency- the mind operates from assumptions, and then tries to find evidence in the world around to justify those beliefs. Simply put it's a method of protecting the ego. People will go to surprising lengths, either intentionally or not, to defend themselves from getting a bruised ego, and this seems to be no exception.
Finally we have the outcome- here was the 6 of Pentacles, reversed. Things ultimately will not go on to level themselves out, but rather will simply fall apart. There can't be any quid pro quo in the Joker's world, because he regards the world as lost and irredeemable, and himself as a part of it. The only end he can see is destruction, and things will never balance out. Another aspect of this is also imbalance- he suffered loss, and now inflicts suffering on a much greater scale. Everyone will feel his pain, as he believes there are no innocents. It's interesting to examine this card too in terms of its suit- Pentacles, related to the Earth. Being a criminal, and a highly intelligent one, the Joker could very well become extremely wealthy, and build a comfortable, albeit illegal, business. However, this is not his end, nor is any personal gain, at least in terms of monetary or tangible factors. The only end is more and more destruction, and ultimately it's this desire that will consume and destroy him, perhaps in some final ironic end.
So what we find overall is that the message here is one of imbalance- everything is a big deal for him, and the result is that instead of come to terms with what happened, he developed strong defense mechanisms and emotional blocks, which ultimately caused him to develop into a wholly self-referencing sociopath. Are you ever likely to encounter someone like this in a reading? Highly unlikely, and it is an extreme example. Nonetheless, I found it an interesting exercise, and failing all else, good practice.

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