Is surviving the only way we know how to live? – Part 2

Last week we asked what surviving in this absurd world means, especially with the need for moral relativism when considering the social contract theory, the state of nature, and… the meaning of life. This week, does that mean that to be free, we have no choice by to accept the status quo?

The shadow and illusory superiority

Carl Jung, claims that in the depths in our mind, lives what he calls The Shadow: the part in our psyche that we typically refuse to acknowledge, because our Shadow is the asshole part of our self, which obviously does not belong in our supposed moral-driven society.

He says that to maintain mental health, we must recognize those impulses, but not identify with it.

If we don’t acknowledge it, we’d pretty much be drones and Stepford citizens. But if we don’t tame it, our shadow literally grows inside us and conflicts with our our own self esteem.

Illusory Superiority is the fancy word for our positive cognitive bias of ourselves, where we overestimate our qualities and underestimate our flaws.

But because the world isn’t just black and white, the shadow and the light, are not as easily identifiable and easily distinguished from each other.

If people are the slightest bit aware of the world and their situation right now, one could argue that nihilists, existentialists, even absurdists, are actually… hyper sane!

These people are so in tune with the discrepancies of their reality that they’ve come to accept what is, what isn’t, and they’ve made the choice to navigate their life however they see fit.

The State of Nature.

But this assumption begs the question of: how do we actually classify people whose moral compasses, emotional and intellectual dispositions are radically different from the “norm”… or worse, ours?

It’s not that they dont understand the behavior or the belief of others, it’s simply that they believe these are faulty. and their reasons are just as logical as the other side.

The Batman’s Joker, particularly in the Dark Knight Rises, I think perfectly embodies my question.

First, he’s a contradiction by the mere fact that he’s called a Joker. He’s supposed to be a clown and make people laugh but instead, he’s a self-proclaimed “agent of chaos”.

Not taking into account Joaquin Phoenix’s rendition of his origin story in Joker, Heath Leadger’s Joker is insane by the standard of having absolutely no sense in his actions. And repeating the same thing several times and expecting a different outcome.

But ironically, he sees Gotham probably the same way we see the world…

Especially in a time where everything feels just too overwhelming. As if we were at a tipping point of something we don’t even know of, and there’s nothing else to do but watch it burn.

No matter what we do, things just seem to be slowly burning.

Another interesting thing is how the Joker is so cognizant of the fact that he has one strong purpose, and however he gets there isn’t as important. Because he has no rules!

the presence of random injustice means that there is no justice. The fact that innocence can be destroyed means that there is no innocence

The Joker – Dark Knight Rises

His beliefs were so different from the norm, his actions we’re unpredictable for the citizens and law enforcers of Gotham city. This made him more threatening as there was absolutely no way they could understand his logic and therefore, reason with him.

Most people live by what we call “good” values, but a lot of them do so believe they chose to…

Paradox: balance and the transparency of evil

Jean Beaudrillard analyzed contemporary culture and with a lot of time on his hands and intellect, he came to a conclusion similar the principles of chemistry: nothing is lost or created, just transformed.

Through what he called Incessant Commutation, nothing disappears or dies, it simply disappears through proliferation, contamination or simulation.

All liberation affects Good and Evil equally. The liberation of morals and minds entails crimes and catastrophes. The liberation of law and pleasure leads inevitably to the liberation of crime.”

Jean Beaudrillard

Meaning by eliminating evil, we pretty much create as much evil as much as we sanitize the world from it.

A lot of people wrote about this already: if we take Beaudrillard’s statement in the context of the Joker and the Batman, Batman, in every aspect created the Joker. From the actual character to the character’s symbol.

While Batman stands for straight order, justice, and the respect of his values (not killing), The Joker represents complete chaos, where the end justifies the means, whatever the means may be.

Philosophically, they can’t live without each other, because there’s no good without evil, no night salvation if there’s no day terror, no pranks to balance discipline.

At the same time, they’re very similar, both outcasts, hidden behind their identity that they willingly keep vague.

At the very core, the Joker challenges Batman’s core values and perceptions. In a sense, their dichotomy represents our own shadow and our own illusory superiority.

And why ultimately, as viewers and readers, we can’t really hate the Joker. Because a part of us wishes we could just say fuck everything and live by our own rules.

And yet the socialized, moral side of us shuts that other half up by listing all the reasons why deviating from the norms would cause Anomie and alienate us from society.

It’s like we get a sense of catharsis by living vicariously through the Joker, like with how we want to do something about the world, but without having to think or do anything.

More than that, Batman and The Joker give a tangible pop culture example of why the State of Nature and the Social Contract that binds our societies have the flaws they do,

Fit in, but stand out, the common dilemma of a high school student. Fulfil your civil duties, and you shouldn’t have to deal with a governing body that doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

Do your job, keep your head down, and don’t complain, because at the end of the day you have a responsibility you need to be accountable for.

Everything depends on something else.

That’s the premise of the State of Nature, that’s the premise of the Social Contract, and that’s the premise of every other belief in this world.

Even the concept of a premise is based on a derived thought!

Because if nothing depended on anything else, then everything would just be a coincidence, and how much of that idea are you willing to live your life by?

Your problems now, the world’s issues now, are a correlation between several things, and to some extent, driven by the causation effect of something in the past, or something in the future.

So are we always in survival mode? The obvious answer is, well it depends on whose perspective we’re looking from.

Survival mode translates into so many different aspects in our life: from our physiological responses to fight or flight, to the effects on our mental health, down to the rationale of our everyday decisions.

Everyday is a new struggle, a new battle.

And even some might have the solutions, who has the answers? Is there a silver bullet, even in theory, that can help win the war?

Why are we even at “war” in the first place? And against whom?

I invite you to, just like how Joker challenged Batman, to look inside, and look at what you value, look at what drives your very core,

Question your fight and what you stand for, and if what you’re doing is somehow, in whatever way, contributes to advancing your belief

Because I guess if you look at it through this lens, that means that if we weren’t surviving, then we aren’t living. and if we aren’t living, then… what the hell are we doing?


I’m curious about what you think and feel about this topic and about your own survival story. Please don’t hesitate to share them with me and our community!

Be brave, be kind,