joker in the pack
On December 13th 1987 at least ten footballers and four more assorted athletes were born with sufficient skill and status to make it into the pages of Wikipedia. Also on that day at 21h04 in La Jolla, California, a bright young man entered the world intent on pursuing a career in neuroscience; in his free time he too became a footballer and a runner. It is now too late for him to refocus his chaotic energies on sport - his name was James Eagan Holmes. He was born as a mid-Scorpio Mars came to the local IC ... opposite Chaos in the Midheaven (an asteroid pattern which I set eyes on for the first time after writing the previous sentence!)
As he burst onto the cinema stage, blinding the bewildered and then terrified audience with chemical smoke, Holmes is said to have shouted, ‘I am the Joker!’ and continued after his arrest. For years he had immersed himself in the imagery of Detective Comics’ Batman stories; he had filled his flat with pictures and posters and memorabilia to the point that he identified totally with the character of the superhero’s nemesis. Holmes had dyed his hair bright orange; his eyes were wild.
So who was the Joker?
And who else had taken on his savage mantle?
Just before the outbreak of the second World War the creative team of Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson produced the first issue of their monthly publication to feature Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight. This was #27 in May 1939; no more specific date seems to be available. A year later Batman and Robin were so popular that they were given their own quarterly (quickly revised to monthly) in the Spring of 1940. Again there is no specific date for the first issue, but the Wikipedia Batman page states that it was first advertised in early April. This new comic book, crucially, saw the birth of the Joker.
Arguments continue to this day over his parentage, and here is the account in Wikipedia:
‘The credit for creation of the Joker is disputed. Kane responded in a 1994 interview to claims that Jerry Robinson created the concept of the character:
“Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. That's the way I sum it up. (The Joker) looks like Conrad Veidt — you know, the actor in ‘The Man Who Laughs’, (the 1928 movie based on the novel) by Victor Hugo. ... Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, 'Here's the Joker'. Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it, but he'll always say he created it till he dies. He brought in a playing card, which we used for a couple of issues for him (the Joker) to use as his playing card.”
Robinson has countered that he created the Joker to be Batman's larger-than-life nemesis when extra stories needed to be written quickly for Batman #1, and that he received credit for the story in a college course. Regarding the character's similarity with Conrad Veidt, Robinson said:
“In that first meeting when I showed them that sketch of the Joker, Bill said it reminded him of Conrad Veidt in ‘The Man Who Laughs’. That was the first mention of it. ... He can be credited and Bob himself, we all played a role in it. The concept was mine. Bill finished that first script from my outline of the persona and what should happen in the first story. He wrote the script of that, so he really was co-creator, and Bob and I did the visuals, so Bob was also.”’
In the 1960s the heroes and villains of Gotham City moved from print to TV.
From January 12th 1966 to March 14th 1968 the filmed episodes of Batman were broadcast twice every week as a two-part cliffhanger, airing at 7h30 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On January 26th the Joker, played by Cesar Romero, appeared on-screen for the very first time in episode 5, The Joker is Wild. The shows were massively popular, so it was only another few months before he grinned out of an even bigger screen in Batman - the Movie, which premiered on July 30th that year in Austin, Texas. In 1968 Batman and the Joker morphed again to appear at 10h30 am on Saturday mornings in a new series of animated adventures from Filmation studios in Los Angeles. The Joker - voiced by Larry Storch - was a regular antagonist from the very first episode, My Crime is Your Crime, that screened on September 14th 1968.
Further cartoon stories appeared on US TV in 1977, The New Adventures of Batman. The initial air-date was 10th February, the time probably 11h00 am. Lennie Weinrib gave the Joker his voice from the first episode. ‘The Pest’. But it was not until 1989 that the arch-villain was back in the cinema; director Tim Burton assembled a stellar cast for his new Batman movie including - who else? - Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Its public release was on June 23rd in New York; for this a chart set at 0h00 is pretty safe. On the back of this huge success, another animated TV series - from Warner Brothers Animation in Burbank, California - soon followed. Batman: The Animated Series premiered on the Fox Network's children's slot ‘Fox Kids’ on Saturday September 5, 1992 and aired on weekday afternoons at 4:30pm. The Joker delayed his return until September 11th 1992. In hindsight, what a date to choose, in view of the catastrophic events in Gotham City’s counterpart half a Node cycle later! The episodes of this series did not air in production order; the Joker - voiced by Mark Hamill, who, says one on-line writer, ‘defined a whole new career for himself in animation with his cheerfully deranged portrayal’ - first appeared in episode 2, but this was held back and so the sixth story to air after the start of the series was #22, Joker’s Favor. Mark Hamill reprised the role in the successful animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm that had its cinema release - presumably at 0h00 - on December 25th 1993.
People go to the movies on Christmas day?
Back on TV, The New Batman Adventures followed in 1997, first airing on September 13th. I can’t find a time. Mark Hamill’s Joker appeared in the first story Holiday Knights. The series went to DVD on December 6th 2005. The next series of TV cartoons, The Batman, began with Season 1 in 2004 with Kevin Michael Richardson as the Joker.
And again we discover the uncomfortable fact that episode #1, The Bat in the Belfry, aired - possibly at 7h00 am, if I have correctly disentangled the history of Kids WB - on the morning of Saturday September 11th, only the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In this episode Batman returns to the Batcave to be told that all the criminals in Arkham Asylum have been released. The Joker, who masterminded the breakout, plans to fill a blimp with Joker venom that will explode over Gotham City turning every citizen into a lunatic. Was this total insensitivity on the part of the programme schedulers, or a misguided wish to recreate the terror from the air in fantasy so that a superhero could come to the city’s rescue? Sadly, nothing will rewind time. No miracle of magical thinking will resurrect the twin towers or bring back nearly 3,000 dead.
Two animated films followed, that went straight to DVD - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (release December 12th, 2000, again with Mark Hamill), and The Batman vs. Dracula (October 18th 2005, with Kevin Michael Richardson.)
But also in 2005, on June 15th, a new Batman film went on general release in North America. Director Christopher Nolan had entered the creative fray and ‘Batman Begins’ was a great success. It was the first of a trilogy; in the second, The Dark Knight, the mushrooming Batman fan-base saw the return of the Joker at its Australian release on July 16th 2008 - six months after the shock death of Heath Ledger whose role as the Joker had been the main focus of the film’s advertising campaign. The USA had to wait until July 18th; the UK until July 24th. The Dark Knight became the thirteenth highest grossing film of all time; it was nominated for eight Academy Awards. And now the third film was enjoying its public release - at 0h00 on July 19th in Australia and New Zealand, and July 20th in the UK and USA.
However, The Dark Knight Rises’had its official premiere in New York on Monday July 16th 2012. By 11h04pm the New York Daily News had its copy in for the online report, and two posed photos (#20 and #28) of arriving celebrities show watches that seem to be reading about 6h10pm and 6h45pm. The 2h45m-long show may have started at 7h30pm.
Tickets for the midnight screening in Aurora Colorado on 20th July show a start time of 12h05am.
But where was the Joker?
Hidden in the pack.
Sport and entertainment are huge draws for 5th-house people; a south-node Virgo Moon squaring all this from the 2nd House accounts for the collecting mania that proved ultimately so destructive. If that were all, there might be a chance of channelling explosive energies reasonably constructively, but it isn’t. We have to look at the Reflex (contrascia) chart with the radix to see the full power of the pattern, and sure enough the Pluto/Mars/IC conjunction reflexes to the Ascendant.
A pattern like this always exaggerates the individual’s drive to the point where they will not be ignored and must leave their mark on the world, for good or ill.
Then there is the Dwad. This finely-tuned level of the natal chart, astrology’s natural fractal, is very, very important; it gives us a far deeper insight into the mental life of a man or woman than the radix charts alone can ever hope to offer. The dwad expresses the Idea behind the Form. In Holmes’ case, not only does Mars remain with the IC but is found in its own sign, Aries, and even closer to the Dwad IC is Chiron, opposite Uranus at the dwad Midheaven. This poor young man is a walking time bomb. The dwad Ascendant joins Pluto in Pisces opposite a ‘setting’ Saturn. This is the pattern of a compulsive fantasist who feels alienated from his peers and will readily identify with iconic figures in the battle of Good and Evil. Add to this the dwad Sun and Moon in Leo - the Sun on his radix Ascendant - and you can see his need to be the blazing hero of his own story. Poor James. He realised he was mentally in trouble, and not only had he begun some treatment but warned his friends that he might not be safe to be around. On July 20th 2012 transiting Chiron was on his daily converse IC and progressed Scorpio Mars met his daily converse Ascendant. Tragically his compulsion fully to enter his fantasy world was fated to be far stronger than that initial insight.
And I’m only showing you the dwad - simply because this is where we see exactly where James Eagan Holmes and this new being in the mind of the cosmos become one and the same. Echoing the Joker’s radix Jupiter opposite Holmes’ Sagittarius Sun, dwad Jupiter is opposite his dwad Leo Sun, and the unruly dwad Sun/Uranus conjunction is right on his dwad Jupiter in Aries ... opposite Chiron, just as in Holmes’ radix chart. The south node, IC and Mercury are all on his Sagittarius stellium, the Moon is on her nodal axis, and destructive Mars is at the IC. “I am the Joker.”
And - fascinating idea - we might observe on this basis that he was literally ‘not in his right mind.’
Holmes’ relationship to the Hollywood chart, when cameras rolled for The Squaw Man under another Moon/Jupiter conjunction (plus Uranus), is also important.
It has to be said right away that although this chart like the Babelsberg chart overflows with showmanship and drama, it is not especially violent. We do find the draconic Sun in 19 Capricorn opposite radix tropical Mars; but this puts the emphasis on the forces of order confronting passion and peril. However, we have seen how crucial the Reflexes are - and here the early Capricorn Sun, being transited by Pluto as the whole drama unfolds - reflexes with Ceres to 20 and 22 Gemini, opposite radix Mercury and James Holmes’ Sun. So we can see the influence that cinema had over this young man, even if it was, overall, not at all malign. And that this tragedy of his making now puts extremely serious questions to both the industry and the gun culture which pervades it.
We do need to look closer at the asteroids in these charts. They may show us something underlying the main pattern. Holmes has asteroid Aurora at 9 Libra opposite Loke at 10 Aries. (Loke or Loki is the Norse god of mischief, lies and evil, who brought about the death of Balder, the god of light, joy, beauty, and innocence.) Hollywood also has asteroids clustered around these cardinal degrees: California and Siva at 8 Libra opposite Fantasia at 8 Aries; Hel at 12 Aries, Prey at 12 Libra. Atropos reflexes to 9 Libra. The reflex Chaos at 12 Taurus conjoins Holmes’ own, culminating opposite his Mars/Pluto/IC. He is certainly picking up on the themes of death and destruction. Two such links extend to the Babelsberg chart, where reflex Atropos - death - is at 12 Aries, and the reflex Chaos is conjunct Holmes’ own, exactly opposite his Mars/IC from Taurus 13. He has been getting a very negative and dangerous message. On the day of the shooting, Uranus was transiting 8 Aries opposed by Mars at 9 Libra, and Pluto had already begun squaring everything on this axis. Its reflex transit was at Gemini 22, on its final run right opposite Holmes’ Sun.
This extraordinary pattern is so predictive of the traumatic events seventy-two years later that the question, ‘Is Batman to blame?’ can realistically be addressed, even if ‘blame’ isn’t ultimately the right word. Maybe the April 1940 eclipse set a combative trend (it was, after all, during the early years of World War 2) whose energy coalesced in the characters of Batman, posing heavy questions about mankind’s response to evil. These, unanswered, climaxed in the tragedy of July 20th 2012.
Even if we had space here to examine the many additional details of these patterns, we cannot fully know what the universe required of James Holmes or his victims, why he was born with such a volatile nature and the Dragon’s Head at the end of Pisces in the 8th House, drawing him into illusion and intimacy with death. All we can do is trace his inner cosmic journey and cast a critical eye on the world of fantasy that turned him from a brilliant, athletic student into the monstrous creation of other men’s minds - with Hilaritas and Smiley on his relocated Ascendant at Aurora, Colorado, the grin on the face of the Joker.