Grant Morrison is a weird dude. I mean, if your Wikipedia entry describes you as a “Scottish comic book writer, playwright, and occultist,” you know there’s some eclecticism in your profile somewhere. In Morrison’s case, though, being slightly off-kilter has proven to be a distinct advantage, as he has penned some of the most memorable stories ever produced in comics such as Batman, JLA, and Fantastic Four.
One of the more, um, interesting projects Morrison ever produced was a graphic novel titled Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. Published in 1989, the story basically presented the asylum which routinely houses all of Batman’s most notorious villains as a nightmarish, bleak landscape populated by an equally nightmarish cast of characters. Imagine the crazy knob on Two-Face, the Scarecrow, and Clay Face – who were all pretty messed up creations to begin with – cranked up to 11 and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how seriously off-the-wall this particular tale is.
Of course, no story involving Batman and an insane asylum would be complete without the Dark Knight’s greatest nemesis, the Joker, and it is the characterization of the Clown Prince of Crime that provides possibly the most interesting thought the graphic novel puts forth. In this particular take on the character, he is described as “suffering” from a form of super-sanity. What this basically means in this context is that he possesses no filter in relation to the reality around him; he is constantly taking in everything, rendering him incapable of any type of conservative behavior and resulting in a basic reconstruction of his personality every day of his existence.
I’ve never committed any crime on the level the Joker has, and I’m fairly certain I don’t totally recreate myself every day, but this concept of super-sanity is infinitely intriguing to me. Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve begun five different posts for this site, and I haven’t finished a single one of them. Every time I start one topic, something else interesting comes along and diverts my attention. I’ve become quite adept at starting things, but I’m totally striking out on finishing anything.
My wife giving birth to our fifth child, the presidential election, etc., etc.; the list goes on and on. There’s an old joke that goes something like this: “How many people with Attention Deficit Disorder does it take to change… Ooh, look, a bunny!” I’ve begun to seriously consider the possibility I might have ADD myself, considering my recent track record of actually finishing anything. On a larger level, though, this seems to be the society we live in now – information available around the clock on virtually every subject imaginable. Without a good internal filter, how can we shut the flow off?
I don’t have any answer to that question, but I would like to take the opportunity now to not only confess my concentration problems but also to sound the alarm that maybe we’re getting too much information. I don’t have the internet on my cell phone, don’t have cable television, and generally try to stay off the computer once I get home from work, and I still can’t unplug. What’s frightening about that last statement is that all those things I don’t do actually puts me in the minority.
So before we all end up in the asylum, maybe we should work on being concise, focused, and committed to finishing what we start. We may not all be heading toward insanity, but super-sanity doesn’t seem all that far out of reach anymore. Maybe that means the joke’s on us after all.