Category Archives: Theories

Podcast Review – My Thoughts On Arkham Sessions: Perchance To Dream

I missed Wednesday’s update due to temporary illness.  Friday was missed for other reasons.  Rest assured, I am alive, well, and blogging.  Thus, a weekend update in lieu of the traditional Wed & Fri updates.

For those unfamiliar with the Arkham Sessions, Brian Ward and Dr. Andrea Letamendi analyze the characters and plots of episodes from Batman: The Animated Series.  Dr. Letamendi is a practicing psychologist who brings the perspective of her profession to the table.

The latest episode reviewed was Perchance To Dream.  If you haven’t listened to it yet, please use the link to do so, then come back to read.

I agree with Brian Ward that Batman is a fanatic.  I find one check mark missing.  An attitude of “anyone who isn’t with me is against me”.  Batman’s worldview actually contains three groups of people: allies, villians, and civilians.  Civilians are not necessarily with Batman, in fact many of them see him as a problem.  Yet, Batman protects them.  They are neither allies nor enemies.  In the case of Poison Ivy’s fanaticism, civilians are the driving force behind the crass consumerism and industrialization that she sees as evil.  Therefore, civilians are villains in her extreme ecological ideology.

I have my own theory as to why Robin is absent from the perfect world created by Batman.  When we get to the later episodes of Robin’s Reckoning parts 1 & 2, we see that Bruce was witness to the Orphaning of Dick Grayson.  Bruce’s mission as Batman is to make sure that what happened to him never happened to anyone else.  In that moment, he failed.  He was just Bruce Wayne, helpless bystander.  He took Dick in because the parallel between there lives struck a personal chord.  In Bruce’s perfect world, Dick would have never lost his parents.  The Flying Graysons would still be performing.

I have heard that many people are afraid to be alone with their thoughts.  I find such a concept incomprehensible, as that is my favorite pastime!  I wonder, though, what influence that may have on the Experience Machine thought experiment.  After all, the brain would create the perfect world of the proposed experiment.  So, the subject is presented with the idea of living in their thoughts, alone and sans escape.

Science Fiction Dreaming

     If you paid attention to any science, science fiction, or technology blog last week, you know that the design of the Alcubierre Drive has been tweaked into feasibility.  This means that there could be one day be interstellar ships that fold space.  I would love to captain one of those.  I’m not thinking Star Trek and alien contact, I’m thinking manned exploration and colonization of other planets outside of our solar system.  People talk Alpha Centuri, I think Zarmina in the Gilese system and its neighbor.
     Imagine leaving politics of earth behind and dealing with the smaller scale issues of a settlement.  Seeing what no one else has seen and founding something new.  That would be awesome in the truest sense.

Harley Quinn

     There is no doubt that the character of Harley Quinn has become a major fan favorite. It’s not hard to see why. Harley is a very layered character.

     I should probably start off with the fact that I neither am, nor do I desire to be, familiar with DC’s New 52. This is probably a relief to many Harley fans who have been critical of the New 52 take on Dr. Quinzel.

     Harley Quinn was created for Joker’s Favor, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series (referred to by fans as Batman TAS). I find it interesting that she was originally intended to be a disposable character, much like her beloved Mistah J (The Joker). Given that the Joker is very much involved with Harley’s origin, he and his relationship to Batman bear a detailed overview in this article.

     The Joker is undoubtedly Batman’s opposite number. Batman was created to be a lasting follow-up to the success of Superman, the Joker was meant to be a disposable villain du jour. Batman’s origin and mission are clear cut, the Joker has many pre-acid origin stories and his mission known only to himself. Many of these origins include tragedy, particularly the fan-favorite presented in The Killing Joke. For the purposes of this article, The Killing Joke shall be the Joker’s true origin given that it was confirmed pre-New 52 by the Riddler in Batman: Gotham Knights # 54. In The Killing Joke, we find out that the Joker was widowed in his defining tragedy. Please note that his late wife bears some resemblance to Harley. Approximate height, approx. weight, both are blonde, etc. This will come up later. Both men have opposite responses to their respective tragedies. Batman becomes a dark, grim, and serious protector in almost demonic garb. The Joker becomes a bright, happy, and seemingly flippant criminal mastermind. Batman won’t kill, the Joker is a mass murderer. The difference in these approaches could lie in the details of their circumstances.

     Batman was a child who saw his parents die in a senseless and random crime. The Joker is a father who lost his wife and unborn child in a series of events resulting from his own bad choices (provided we take the Riddler’s account over the baby bottle warmer incident). We even see in the Flashpoint series what Batman would be if Thomas Wayne saw Bruce die instead. Batman had the leavening influence of Alfred, a surrogate father figure. The Joker had no uplifting figure to guide him.

     Batman took in Dick Grayson to become the first Robin. In doing so, he becomes a father figure. He essentially takes his late father’s role as his own. Robin was created, like Batman, to be an enduring character. Harley Quinn was created as the disposable sidekick to the Joker, who was also supposed to be a one-shot wonder. Like the Joker, Harley endured anyway. The Joker may have consciously meant to manipulate Harley, but he really seems to have taken her in as a surrogate for his late wife.

     This is where the appearance note from earlier comes in. The Joker sometimes can be genuinely loving toward Harley. In these moments, the Joker sees her like he did his late wife. But then, like a flipped switch, the Joker beats and berates Harley. It seems as though the transference of his feelings from his late wife to Harley cannot be maintained due to the simple fact that they are two separate people. When this reality can no longer be ignored, the Joker punishes Harley for not being his late wife. The absence of a child who should have been born long ago makes the separation from reality even shorter-lived.

     I can personally guarantee that I have many Harley fans up in arms right now. Mention anything about the abusive nature of Harley’s relationship with the Joker, and her hardcore fans will immediately go into denial. “You just don’t understand their relationship.” “Their love is just different, that’s all.” “He loves her, really. He’s just a little rough sometimes.” These fans often spout the same rationalizations that Harley does herself. Yet, the Joker is unquestionably abusive toward Harley.

     I base my observations on the Harley/Joker relationship on my own experience with battered women. My mother has taught women’s self-defense classes often attended by the residents of battered shelters. During some of these classes, I was mom’s yuki (throwing dummy). We have had the occasional relative/family friend who has been abused. And being on work-for-welfare programs myself, I have had working relationships with many battered women. This is not to say that abuse is related to income or lack thereof, or even that all or most women on welfare are abused. What I am saying is that it comes to the surface more often among those with no appearances to keep.

     I don’t believe that the Joker really loves Harley. I believe that he loves the idea of her, of having that surrogate for what he lost. Even if the Joker does love Harley, that fact alone would not preclude abuse, nor would it make the abuse okay. The Joker would need to confront the issues behind his abusive behavior BEFORE attempting to form a romantic relationship of any sort. He would be best off doing this through therapy as a single adult. An abuse victim cannot change their abuser from within the relationship. Their best bet is to leave, seek help, and once they reach a certain point in their own recovery they can form an intimate relationship with someone new. A former victim may forgive their former abuser, but they should never return to that abuser. At the very least, not in a romantic setting. In short, permanently breaking up the Joker/Harley relationship would be the healthiest thing for both of them as people (though it may not be the best character move for storytelling purposes).

     We see Harley go through a battered spouse cycle quite often. According to the Batman TAS episode, Mad Love, the Joker was charming at first. The devolving of the relationship into an abusive state was gradual and easily rationalized away. He beats her and puts her down verbally on a regular basis. She claims to deserve it. She gets fed up. She leaves. She forms friendships that serve as a support network, i.e. Poison Ivy. She misses him. He acts sweet. She goes back. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Either a defining moment will have to occur where she breaks this cycle and leaves him permanently, she will kill him, he will kill her, a suicide-homicide situation occurs to kill them both, or a freak accident kills one of them before any of the other options occur. There is no other possibility. If they were real people, they would not die of old age. They would no reconcile and live happily ever after.

     This is where Harley becomes as important of a character to our current social landscape as Wonder Woman was in the 60’s, if not more. There are far too many misconceptions in our society regarding abuse and those who have endured it. A series in any media regarding Harley could address them all. We would see her in the abuse cycle, how she got into it, who she was before, who she is during, who she becomes after, who her abuser was before, who he is during, and how she can eventually break the cycle. Through her connections with others we could also see how men are also abused (an oft under-reported issue) and what happens to those who don’t break the cycle. The world needs that story.

Monochromes and Morality

     Morality is informed by philosophy. Faith comes with a set of philosophies derived from an external source.

     Many claim the philosophy that there is no right or wrong. Yet, if someone beat, raped, murdered, or stole from either these individuals or their loved ones, I’d wager that they’d consider themselves or their loved ones wronged. But how can they be wronged if there is no wrong? Can wrong exist without right? Is everything black and white, or shades of gray?

     I would say that the last question is a false division. What is black, but the darkest gray?    What is white, but the absence thereof? It stands to reason that the existence of gray does not preclude the existence of black, nor of white. Yes, there are many moral lines that are blurry to us. But are they really gray? Perhaps we are just in need of moral lenses.

In any case, absolute right and absolute wrong exist. It would be ignorance to assume otherwise. Right is what we should do, and wrong what we should not. We should not fail to do what we should and we should avoid doing what we should not. Take a moment and have fun untangling that last sentence. When you are done doing that, you will see why right and wrong are a codependent pair of concepts. The concept of wrong cannot exist without the concept of right, and vice versa.

     This is not to be confused with good and evil. Right and wrong are the concept, good and evil the execution. The concept of wrong can exist without evil, for a concept can exist even if none practice it. Likewise, the concept of right can exist in a world devoid of good. Right cannot exist without wrong, but good can exist without evil. I find that evil cannot exist for long without good.

       With good, no harm is done and all are built up. Good without evil is known as perfection. Unlike in the Infinity Gauntlet epilogue or Serenity, a world without sin would not simply die. In Serenity, the pax did not attack sin, but merely ambition. Ambition is not evil until it grows into greed. The pax wouldn’t have removed the motivation for just evil, but the motivation to do anything. The world would function quite well were we perfect. But we are not perfect. Not a single person. Evil and good can coexist, but they don’t have to.

     Evil is predatory in nature. Evil cannot create, but pervert and exploit. Rape is a perversion of sex. Murder is an exploitation of the limitations of flesh. Evil could not exist without good to prey upon. Without good, evil would implode. A world without even the slightest hint of good would be a paradox akin to a snake eating its own tail.

     Dealing with the moral gray is tricky, and I have no easy answers. However you deal with the gray, regardless of how the gray is composed, seek to do the good you can where you can. Do right. Avoid wrong. These absolutes exist as ends of the spectrum of gray, if nothing else.

Sliding Scale of Physical Laws

Well now, there’s an odd title. Allow me to elaborate. First, I must begin with the fact that I am neither a scientist of any kind nor am I employing the scientific method. I am an artist performing a thought exercise. Allow the scientific community to explore, test, refine, and prove/disprove my hypothesis. As the son of an engineer raised on great science fiction, I love exploring the what ifs of what I find in the news regarding scientific discoveries.

I once read about the discovery of a planet in a different solar system which had a density roughly akin to that of styrofoam. This was considered unusual due to the total mass of the object. Simply put, it is believed that the gravitational pressure upon the mass of the object should have compacted the matter. This led to another blogger to point out that the physical laws of nature may vary within different regions of the universe. Sounds like chaos, doesn’t it?

But there could be order in this concept after all. What if there was some sort of overriding law that governed how the laws of nature worked in other areas of the universe? That by knowing how one physical law was affected, one could predict in what ways the others would be?

Let us begin the exploration of this idea with a few definitions and base concepts. The term void in this context would refer to the theoretically infinite amount of space out there that an object could occupy within the realm of matter and energy. The term universe would then be defined as the expanding debris of matter spreading out from a single point as is currently believed. You know, galaxies and the like. The origin would be the single point from which the universe expands. The edge would refer to the rapidly moving edge of the universe out into the void. Get the picture? If not, you’ll only get lost from here. Try one of my other articles instead. If you follow me so far, we can now describe my concept.

Genesis describes God as stretching out the heavens, a point made by Ken Ham in how creationism explains the expansion of the universe while debating Bill Nye. For the evolutionists within the readership, please refer to the base concept of the Big Bang. In either case. The universe is expanding. If I am not mistaken, as one stretches out a piece of rubber, tension is greater in the center and the material becomes thin. The rubber is thickest along the edges. Now let’s apply this concept to the universe stretching out into the void. There are only two differences. One must invert the distribution of density. The universe would be denser toward the center, I think. Also, the rubber model is two dimensional and the universal model is in three dimensions. It would be reasonable to postulate that the differences in the laws of physics, assuming that there are any, would follow a similar pattern.

We could divide the regions of the universe into spherical layers, like the atmosphere. Perhaps the laws concerning mass and pressure would vary in accordance to these spheres and their distance from the center. It could then take less pressure to compact the same matter at the center sphere than it would at the edge sphere. Then all of our current formulas would simply need a new factor, the sphere in which an object is located. Light behaves as both a particle and a wave, putting it on the border of matter and energy. Since the discovery of the planet that sparked the idea would be located in a different sphere, it stands to reason that matter and energy can travel between the spheres.

While it would be possible that matter would be governed by the laws of the sphere from which it came, it is far more likely that it would be governed by the laws of the sphere in which it is located. That is, less pressure would be required to crush us as we traveled to more central spheres. Questions still remain. Would the spheres expand along with the universe? Or would additional spheres be created along the edge? What other physical laws are affected? Would they change the same way, or would they require separate theories? Am I off my rocker? That last one has been asked before. I think the answer is yes.

That is as far as I have explored the idea. Let us see what discoveries are made in the future.

Time And Light

Time is a fun concept to throw around.  Most people think that time is linear. Event A causes Event B which causes Event C.  It is easy to see where this perception comes from.  Of course, it is also easy to see where people got the idea that the earth is flat or that the sun goes around the earth.

So it is with time.  Most scientists believe that time is simultaneous and it is merely perceived as linear.  Go watching through some NOVA episodes sometime.  There is one that talks about a quantum physics concept known as the spacetime loaf.  Essentially, Events A, B, and C are occurring all at once.  It’s a little confusing, I know.  Rather than wasting space going on about simultaneous time (especially since I need reference to explain it here) I’ll simply move on.

What if time, like light, was a paradox?  Paradoxes exist in spite of human inability to understand how.  Take light.  It has been shown to have the properties of a wave.  According to human conception, it is impossible for something to be both a particle and a wave.  Yet light also possesses the properties of a particle.  Ergo, light is a paradox.

It would be no coincidence, then, that time and light are both in the famous theory of relativity.  What if time is both simultaneous and linear?  Such an idea boggles the mind as it is a supposedly impossible concept, yet what have we learned about light?  If we were to discount the impossibility and looked at time as a natural paradox, what would that explain about time?

I’ll end with the Star Trek theory as posed by the character Wesley Crusher.  Time, light, space, and sound may not be the separate things we perceive them to be.