Friday, 25 January 2008

The Joker and the Jokerman




I have a sense that the death of Heath Ledger might just be that moment when the 'synchrosphere' goes mainstream. It's one of the stories- like Madeleine McCann- which is of little or no significance in itself; yet becomes so, as hundreds of thousands of people revert to online sources for alternative versions to the official narrative. On one hand, the fact that it takes the suicide of a male starlet to provoke a sense of the weird, is a source of extreme ambivalence to me; on the other, anything that jerks us- temporarily- from our Ambien existence; which confronts even the most dimensionally-challenged with a crystalline depiction of the Age of Iron, can only be a good thing, right?

Once again I feel we were ahead of the curve. It was, after all, only last week that I (finally) published my article about the so-called Sturmgeist shootings in Jokela, Finland; connecting this event not only to Aleister Crowley, but also to Bob Dylan, and his famous song Jokerman. Ledger, as you will surely not need repeating, stars (as the Joker) in the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight; but- beyond that- also starred as one of the faces of Bob Dylan in the biopic, I'm Not There. The former, predictably, has already been 'synched to fuck' in the geekier outposts of conspiracyville... but nobody, to my knowledge, has seen fit to comment on his other recent gig playing 'Robbie Clark' in his Blood on the Tracks phase. This, in spite of the fact that it was the stress of both roles (the Joker and the Jokerman) to which Ledger attributed the bout of insomnia which led, indirectly, to his death: in an interview last November with The New York Times.

And that selfsame city- a view of which, from across the Hudson in New Jersey, Chris Knowles has discovered in the thirteenth trump- plays a leading role in the Ledger story. We might expect this; because New York (and London) are the capitals, western and eastern, of the New Roman Empire; and if weirdness is on the cards then you can expect these two places to figure. (It doesn't need saying but 9/11 was the most obvious manifestation of that; and the Olympic Games in London in 2012 are scheduled to be another.) How appropriate, therefore, that we find Jack Nicholson- that wizened, still ribald jester of a man- soujourning in London's Picadilly on the night that Ledger died: the district formerly known as Portugal, or Rothschild Row.

Questioned by journalists as he left the Wolseley restaurant, his response to Ledger's death was highly cryptic: 'I did tell him.' Whether this was a veiled reference to the dangers of playing the Joker- which Nicholson did, to great effect, in 1989- or to the dangers of the sleeping pill Ambien, which the actor has publicly condemned- is unclear. Ledger was himself in London as recently as last weekend, filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, directed by Terry Gilliam, in which he again plays a clown. A publicity shot (or possibly a still) from that production has now done the internet rounds, depicting Ledger in the form of another trump: the Hanging Man, or a variation on it, dressed in a white suit and daubed with what can only be described as Illuminati symbols on his forehead. (Adam Star's article, This Joke Isn't Funny, is a good source for this and related Ledger weirdness.)

There is more, much more, that could be mentioned in regards to the actor's death: not least the fact that it fell on a full moon, on January 22nd, which- as Ellis Taylor has pointed out- is not only the birthday of Francis Bacon, but also an ancient Egyptian feast day known as 'The Festival of the Doors of the Horizon are Opened.' (In the same article referred to above, Adam notes the Shakespearean or Baconian motifs apparently present in the Doctor Parnassus film, another of the subtle synchronicities with which this death is festooned.)

But I would prefer to draw your attention to the one anomaly which seems not to have been noted; which, I feel, is also the most important; whose absence from some of these posts may speak volumes. For The Dark Knight- in common with Cloverfield, Halo 2, the TV series Heroes, and a host of other media products- has been the beneficiary of a form of marketing whose secrets are very rapidly emerging from the occluded worlds in which they were devised. This is viral marketing, a phrase (and technique) which has become so ubiquitious in the last decade as to now form a vital thrust in the campaign of any suitably 'cool' product.

Clearly, only a lunatic- full moon or otherwise- would suggest that the 'death' of Heath Ledger was just such a viral stunt; though, without meaning to, it will have the same effect as one, as the very existence of this article demonstrates. What is certain, however, is that- by its nature- the parlour game that is 'Synchro-Mysticism' is not only liable to infiltration by viral memes, but that it already has been so infiltrated; by agents both conscious and unconscious. Of the former, we need look no further than 42 Entertainment: a new media company at what they would like to consider the cutting edge of the viral marketing process, which at its extreme bleeds through into the even shadier world of Alternate Reality Gaming.

The magic of the ARG universe is, in my opinion, always nefarious: just consider the case put before us, in which the combined energies of a secret army of players can apparently (non-locally, unintentionally) trigger a real life 'meme' of deathly proportions. ARGs, and viruses of any kind- marketing ones in particular- are always bad news, it seems to me... and I feel it's about time we started flushing them out.

12 comments:

Atlantean Times said...

There is a book called the four horsemen I think that deals with this type of game theory vs reality issue i will try ti find the exact references...Lovely stuff Ben

Secret Sun said...

"And that selfsame city- a view of which, from across the Hudson in New Jersey, Chris Knowles has discovered in the thirteenth trump- plays a leading role in the Ledger story. We might expect this; because New York (and London) are the capitals, western and eastern, of the New Roman Empire; and if weirdness is on the cards then you can expect these two places to figure. (It doesn't need saying but 9/11 was the most obvious manifestation of that; and the Olympic Games in London in 2012 are scheduled to be another.) How appropriate, therefore, that we find Jack Nicholson- that wizened, still ribald jester of a man- soujourning in London's Picadilly on the night that Ledger died: the district formerly known as Portugal, or Rothschild Row."

Ben, Jack Nicholson is from New Jersey- Neptune, New Jersey, if you can believe it. And New Jersey's original name was "Nova Caesarea."

Cheers for the shout-out, too.

Michael said...

synchro-mysticism - the Ouija board of the internet - always points where you're looking.

David said...

Thank you Ben. Great writing and a great post. This week might also mark the moment when the village wakes up to blight of ARGers, 42 and its ulcerated ilk.

BTB said...

Chris, that is perfect. I love it.

Thanks for the comments, chaps. We'll certainly be returning to these themes again.




ATB,
Ben

Secret Sun said...

Ben,

I'd also suggest that in five years time New York will be the capital of nothing, simply a giant industrial park suburb of the real power-center in the City of London. Check out the link to the New York Times article officially announcing the end of the American Imperium. That's not me talking- that's the Paper of Record.

BTB said...

Thanks Chris, would you happen to have a link to that particular article please?


ATB,
Ben

Secret Sun said...

here you go:


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/magazine/27world-t.html

Adam Star said...

Thanks greatly. An exceptional article with much appreciated insight into the forces leading into and out of Ledger's death. The viral campaigning I agree is rather disturbing, and the virtual reality feel of it all, it is almost as if scripted, with requisite celebrities playing unexpected roles. Much food for thought.

FilmNoir23 said...

Wow, you wrote my article for me.

Anadae said...

Sadly but intriguingly enough, Mr. Ledger first came to the attention of the American tv viewing audience as an eightteen-year-old actor portraying the tribal chieftain resistance fighter, Conor, leading his peops against the empirical Roman occupation in ancient Eire.

The series only consisted of thirteen (!) episodes, the final 2 of which were never aired (all are presently available on DVD), was created by former teenage heartthrob, Sean Cassidy, brother of another former teenage heartthrob, David "The Partridge Family" Cassidy, and has NEVER been cited in any of the articles that covered this senseless tragedy.

As usual, Ben, your sleuthing abilities are truly stellar, and this sentiment fr. a fellow symbol translator & synchronaut in the Lower Hudson Valley.

Anadae said...

Whupsadaisies! I apologise for having through oversight inadverdantly leaving out the very name o/t series in which Mr. Ledger starred which I had referenced. From FOX-TV in 1997, it was entitled "ROAR" & should be purchasable from any retail outlet that vends commercially available DVD's.