I’ve yet to brave the crowds for Dark Knight, but I’m sufficiently death-obsessed of late to be fascinated by Heath Ledger’s “Joker from beyond the grave” and all the weird mimetic magic implied. Actually, what’s been obsessing me even more is the semi-double suicide of beautiful brilliant couple Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, and Duncan’s blog, “The Wit of the Staircase.”
Among the treasures I found on the staircase was a link to an online journal called OBIT, devoted to the concept of “what death can mean to the living, and what living may have meant to the dead.” and which has a fascinating compendium of links and quotes relating to Heath’s final performance, asking questions of whether the “staring into the void” bravery of his turn as the Joker could have led him to his sad fate.
The looking into the void thing can be a real danger if you are too brilliant for your own good. It’s sucked some of our best and brightest right down the rabbit hole from which no man returns. What’s freaking me out is just how jealous I am of what Duncan and Blake seemed to have: their fascinating rapport, their friends and artistic successes, their love and “perfection” for each other, and their fearless pursuit of whatever bizarre esoteric niches caught their fancy. Is it also, perhaps, that they died with so much undone, so poetically, the “long swim” and Tylenol PM plus bourbon (mmmmmm bourbon)? Is this the fate of our best and brightest when they get too far ahead of the pack, and realize they have no choice but to speed up into the void, or else go back with the rest and grow old as gracelessly and relentlessly as merciless banal time dictates, watching their beauty and relevance slowly fade under the dictatorial tick tock of the swiping scythe?
Gosh, I don’t mean to sound grim, of course there’s great artists who’ve survived the abyss and come back. I just wonder what separates the survivors from the departed? Is it just my Slim Pickens-on-the-bomb style jet black humor that keeps my chin up even as things turn darker than a Tim Burton film? I pray for all these fallen heroes’ departed souls, and when I finally brave the crowds to see DARK KNIGHT, I know I’ll be thinking “God bless you, Heath. Come back soon.”