The artistic world of the twentieth century gradually changed its notion of truth. The appearance of uncertainty (especially after World War II) caused a postmodernist movement away from an objective, absolute and structured view of reality to a deeply personal journey full of inconsistencies. Relative truth that depends on individual interpretation about what is important became the hallmark of creative endeavors during this period and accelerated in the twenty-first century.
It is in this chaos that lacks any structure that can help us to find the way to the next signpost of life that we navigate with no real idea of what lies in our future. We surprise ourselves with slick definitions about the world around us that ring true and are therefore accepted as the basis for our actions.
“The Dark Knight Rises,” which premiered on July 20 in Aurora is a product of the postmodernist reality that relies on a tainted hero to achieve what is good. Whether we relate to Batman or the Joker is a personal choice with no understood consequences.
James Holmes’ choices in this chaotic circumstance reek with the smell of personal truth. For him, killing and dying is as fictional as the action on the screen.
Yet it is real because one’s interpretation of reality is what is accepted in our day and age. The world on the screen is played out in the movie house as one reality defines and reflects the other.
The initial artistic movement away from 19th century realism featured a change in the hero’s journey from an exterior overland adventure to an interior and personal search for individual meaning. Postmodernism has taken it further as the interior reality that depicts our dreams and fantasies is being played out in the common-day world.
Holmes’ deeds are part of a movie that, while fictional, is real. That is, the killing and dying on the screen has become the killing and dying on the floor and the seats of the darkened area of our fantasies.
In a postmodernist world there is no difference between one and the other. Chaos reigns and the boundaries that define structure of good and evil are no more.
Holmes straddled those boundaries as only a tormented misfit could. His story has no personal solution because it has no beginning and no end.
There is only the here and now and yet this here and now is also eternal because there is no conclusion. People live and die and things stay the same.
The drama of the action movie is the drama of the streets. Our heroes labor in a field without winners or losers.
There is no definition of victory because neither victory nor defeat has an endpoint for a writer of fiction or a person in a movie theater. The 12 dead and the 58 wounded in Aurora are victims of a make-believe chapter of a movie on a screen that depicts reclining seats, carpeted floors and fire exits.
In postmodernism Batman is real and the heroes and villains in his movie are collaborators on the same stage where we can view a tragic dance both on the screen and in the audience. Anybody can kill and be killed without changing the essence of the story.
Living and dying is depicted as a grotesque bundle of bodies that are trying to find an escape with no exit. It is a movie in a movie house of horrors that we are expected relive again and again.