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Chip Mosher: The Joker, waldo and America

“And modern man screamed with fear.”

— Blaise Cendrars

In Judeo-Christian mythology, a hefty foundation block under America’s cultural edifice, the first human being ever born to a man and woman turned out to be a murderer. He killed the second person ever born, his own brother, which, no matter how you slice it, got the human race off to a rather shaky start. And, for the record, God put a “mark” upon Cain, mankind’s firstborn. And cast him out of the Garden to roam the earth as a vagabond. And roam he has.

Recently he popped up at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., with an assault rifle. And assault he did. Latest stats: 12 dead, 58 reportedly wounded. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, sometimes life doesn’t go on. And there’s really no rhyme or reason to it, other than that insidious “mark of Cain” thing.

In Aurora, moviegoers, packed in a theater for the latest national ritual of cinematic violence, The Dark Knight Rises, were themselves, at first, confused between fiction on the screen and the real blood and guts and screams around them.

You can imagine, then, Abel’s confusion, too, millennia ago, as his brother came at him with a rock. I mean, what the fuck is really going on here?

And that’s about it with humanity’s violence from the beginning until now: It always leaves us befuddled, scratching our heads, wondering how and why such things happen. Nevertheless, we always pull ourselves together, clean up the mess and continue to muddle mindlessly onward at the speed of life — until it happens again.

The “mark of Cain,” as we now know, is that which distinguishes psychopaths from the rest of society. Such people are chronically amoral, incapable of forming emotional bonds with others and lacking in empathy. With the emotive depth and morality of spoiled children in their terrible 2’s, they exist solely unto themselves. If they cannot break the law to serve their ends, then, with enough power, psychopaths will twist the law to serve themselves. The world is their playground; everything in it, their toys. And, surprisingly, they are just about everywhere, such as artist Martin Handford’s Where’s Waldo character, chameleon-like and hidden in scenarios of teeming humanity.

True, a few of them prefer to act outlandishly, like the Joker in Batman, craving attention for their sinister exploits. However, possessing acute survival instincts, most psychopaths usually wish to blend in, to surreptitiously plunder what they can from society. Remember those puppet strings dangling in the ads for the film The Godfather?

And this is where it really gets scary. According to the 2003 documentary film The Corporation, corporations themselves — when examined against expert Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist — qualify as psychopathic individuals. And, thanks to a bizarre U.S. Supreme Court ruling, they’ve essentially been given carte blanche to, well, take over the world. By law, their overriding concern must be the amoral bottom line, which itself has become, arguably, the new religion of modern man.

In 2004, Americans re-elected President George W. Bush to continue the immoral war in Iraq. This election, by democracy’s definition, turned our country into a willing nation of psychopathic serial mass murderers for seven more years. Thus, a nation of people no better as human beings, during that time, than the joker in Aurora, Colo., with his orange hair and deer-lost-in-the-headlights-of-life look on his face.

Indeed, a dark night is rising. How do such things happen? In America anymore, the mark of Cain is never so far as the nearest mirror. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.

CHIP MOSHER has never dyed his hair orange.