Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Problem with Honoring Aurora's Victims by Not Seeing "The Dark Knight Rises"

By now news of the two-day-old Aurora massacre is hard to miss.

The incident, for the sake of the unaware, consisted of one man (who I won’t even dignify by naming here) crashing a Century 16 theater midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and proceeding to gun down the film’s theretofore-eager attendants. The shooting has been called senseless, unfair, and cruel. All are true. Referring to a group of people who were gathered solely by their esteem for imagination and film-embodied hope, no words truly capture the terror or indignation of such a violating act.

The world was prompt in its response to the murders, though, with millions flooding the internet with every conceivable thought and memorial proposition. Many on Facebook expressed their sorrow and outrage. Many others’ Facebook pages donned varying Bat-ribbon avatars and images in moral support for the lost and left in Colorado. In the multitude of prayers and thoughtful concern, the outpoured beneficence is reassuring.

However, there is one particular kind of response that I am encountering increasingly as news of the Aurora massacre rings in ever-new corners of the globe. A troubling amount of people are declaring their solidarity with the victims of the shooting by refusing to go and see The Dark Knight Rises, seeing this as the appropriate avenue to honor them.

There is a flaw in this logic that must be addressed before the premiere weekend is up. Hopefully this can turn a few gears in a better direction.

You see, what the many people choosing to honorably abstain from seeing The Dark Knight Rises seem to misunderstand are the intentions of Aurora’s victims. These were people who chose to come and celebrate the final Batman film in a very successful and impacting series. These were people who loved the series and movies enough to take part in that insomniac ritual of old. If this were just a run-of-the-mill midday screening of the film, then this argument wouldn’t apply, but it wasn’t just some screening; it was the midnight premiere. The noncommittal and skeptical are rarely among a film’s nocturnal congregation. This was a theater of fans and believers – believers in the Dark Knight Trilogy, in Christopher Nolan’s vision, and in the spirit of hope and perseverance undeniably present in the personage of Batman.

If they themselves believed in the film, chose to spend their money to support The Dark Knight Rises as early as possible, how then are we honoring them by abstaining from seeing it?

Let us not think for a moment that an errant gunman would impact any one of them in their view of the film. Do not misapply the outrage due him to the film itself. I don’t believe the victims did, do, or would have. He has done unutterable damage in this violence, beyond the obvious. By even one of the movie’s potential viewers reneging their support, the terrorist has accomplished what all terrorists strive to accomplish: controlling the free will of others, cowing them into forgoing what they otherwise would enjoy.

By pulling our support for The Dark Knight Rises, no matter how honorable our reasons, we are letting that one man’s misanthropy keep us from in fact doing the best thing we could to honor the victims of the Aurora massacre: supporting the movie in its opening weekend. Just like they did.

So, this weekend, if you haven't yet, I encourage you to rise. Rise against terrorism and hatred. Rise against fear and violence. Rise and make one thing absolutely certain:

No amount of darkness or injustice can kill our passion and hope.

We were dreamers before, and we will be dreamers again.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The House on Venus Street

In your shadow-clasped niches
and the clamshells of your hovels –
gleaming teeth
jutting from the forest’s mossy gums –
Of all I hereafter posit,
this one thing I beg you to heed:
in all you do, for all your days,
avoid the house on Venus Street.

Even as I write
my nape recalls the frightful nightmare,
in statical hairs preparing for what shapes
the darkness swathes.
I'll spare you not the horror
that I found and left down there,
but tell you this
that frantic script might emphasize my plea:
in all you do, for all your days,
shun the house on Venus Street.

Doubtless you’ve caught the waftings
of seemingly seraphim-tossed incense.
Doubtless enchanting olfactory hooks
have guided gazes to that filigreed
vesica pisces,
dreaming to knock and enter there…
but beware!
From someone who woefully ventured
where moon and star avert their stare,
if not me, trust the terror trembling in my speech:
in all you do, for all your days,
fear the house on Venus Street.

Your eye will pine like Midas
for the gold of its dancing lamplight, throbbing
through scarlet curtains
to cast weeping willows in ruby.
The oval door will ope and croak
a presage in hinges whose sibilance
more befits the passage to the flame-licked city of Dis.
And then perfume and music,
luster and thralling, incessant laughter…
but I beg you,
never let your feet bring you to that door.
Never seek to satiate this newly kindled need,
but in all you do, for all your days,
spurn the house on Venus Street.

As I, so you
will think yourself some angel-girded John
for the circles of fawning, petalled flesh
assailing you with their beauty,
and truly, what beauty shall I henceforth glimpse
as that?
With Cleopatra’s aspect and Aphrodite’s sway?
But even the most well-graven tomb
still hides decaying teeth…
in all you do, for all your days,
scorn the house on Venus Street.

I know I’ve yet to specify a reason for this dread.
It isn’t in their frothily proffered nectar –
a flood to your ark.
Neither is it in the ambrosial display, straining
hoofed table legs with profligate weight.
But the eyes…
the predatory eyes in the blurring faces you’ll meet…
in all you do, for all your days,
skirt the house on Venus Street.

In your maelstrom of claret and rouge,
a palette of harlotry blurring,
maybe a part of your besot mind will parse
the discord of orgiastic throes. Maybe
you’ll hear or feel through the din
a rumble,
a deep thrumming…
God! Flee if you do!
Don’t go where those serpentine, swaying hips lead,
but in all you do, for all your days,
dread the house on Venus Street.

Don’t seek the seeming Heaven
in the embers of its stare.
Don’t walk the ensconced corridor…
a lone door in its throat.
Shambling misstep after misstep –
by all that is holy! The door at the end of the hall!
I heard it, a fire…the roar of its guttural appetite…
The candles, a pantheon of petrified tongues,
watching me…why weren’t they moving?
With my hand on the door
I felt it…
            I felt it…
                        I felt it…
                                    open out and away from me –
and dear God…
I saw it.

Even the ink I now plead with reeks of putrefaction
and sulfur.

By God and His remnant host,
I beg you!
Stay you from that perfumed mask,
flashing its hellish eyes
in the dark
of ill-named thickets.
Venus Street…the unholy precipice
hidden within its seductions…
carnal hoax in a charnel house…
Venus Street! The cruel joke!
The Morning Star winking in that hollow –
named not for the enamouring slant of its craft…
but for him!
The mountain sprouting from glowing fathoms,
ceaselessly glutting on the plucked and pallid grubs
of a world wandering back to his Edenic deceit…

In all that you do,
for all of your days,
never near the house on Venus Street.

“…for her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead,”
(Proverbs 2:18)