Knightmare in Colorado

Dark …is an attitude, a mood, a view and a fashion statement. It hints at things that are better left unseen, of subterranean things, nefarious, anti-social things, underbellies and the underground, things proper society wishes to avoid.

(Dana Stevens, Review of: The Dark Knight Rises, Slate Magazine, 2012)
We’re All in the Crosshairs” (Randall Amster, New Clear Vision, July, 2012)

On the morning of July 21st, I awoke to news of a mass shooting incident at a theater complex in Aurora Colorado. At first glance the story described a gunman killing 12 and wounding at least 59 during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises”, at the Century 16 Theater Complex at the Town Center Mall. My first priority was to call my son, an avid fan of sci-fi and fantasy productions, who happens to live in that very neighborhood. Unlike many others with similar concerns, I was among the fortunate and greatly relieved when he answered his phone. An early riser, he had already heard the news and reminded me that there had been a number of death threats leveled at high profile reviewers who had been critical of this film. While my son and his wife were planning on seeing this movie, he said that they wouldn’t have gone to that theater because the Town Center Mall had a history of problems. This is important because many locations of these large scale massacres have a violent “history of place”. Biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who has written about morphogenetic fields, also believes that places can have “fields of memory”. This became clearly evident during my ten years of research into the nearby Columbine High School massacre and ongoing and unresolved aftermath. Results of this extensive investigation were published in my second book, A Question of Balance: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Resolving Trauma. Gang activity surfaced at Town Hall Center, around the year 2000, along with accusations of racism and repressive security guards. One has to also consider a probability of much earlier violence in this area during tribal conflicts during Arapahoe times, as well as events following the arrival of the US Calvary.

As this dreadful news unfolded it was reported that a gunman clad in full body armor, tossed two gas canisters into the crowd and opened fire into a sold out midnight showing of a Batman movie premiere. Immediate casualties included 12 dead and at least 59 wounded and many unnamed others traumatized, as well. Witnesses reported that a masked assailant, carrying a variety of assault weapons, entered through a side door and began shooting during an action scene in the film, initially confusing people who thought that resulting pop-pop noises and aerosol fog might be part of the evening’s entertainment. This surreal blend of onscreen and real time violence, added to a delayed response, subsequent confusion and resulting panic. Other surreal elements in this event include the unfortunate fact that Warner Brothers previewed this Blockbuster Batman Premier showing with a trailer from their upcoming Gangster Squad which included scenes of a gunman shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. Equally disturbing was the quote from Newsweek’s assistant culture editor, Marlow Stern predicting that “Dark Knight audiences will be blown away”.

After completing his rampage, the shooter calmly exited the theater, surrendered to police and informed them that his apartment was booby trapped with explosive devices. Their suspect was identified as James Holmes, a 24 year old graduate student studying neuroscience at the nearby Anshutz Medical Campus ( formerly Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center ). Sporting a wild mop of carelessly dyed red- orange hair, he reportedly identified himself as The Joker. However, at this point, any specific relationship between this shooting and this movie is unknown. Since this event was a premiere, Holmes could not have seen this latest version of the Batman saga, and therefore a more likely source of “inspiration “ could be a 1986 comic book version of Dark Knight which shows a massacre in a movie theater.

Caution is needed here, since initial information and simplistic speculation about causality and motive in the Columbine massacre, “trench coat mafia”, bad parents, bullied outsiders and so on, eventually proved both untrue and misleading. Already, misinformation about the Holmes family has gone viral with stories about James’ blueblood ancestors coming over on the Mayflower, ignoring the fact that he was adopted. Many questions remain unanswered for now about possible mental illness, psychotropic drugs and/or medication, rumors of multiple shooters, an accomplice and of course, motive.

This gun related incident, like so many others in our recent history, has served to re-ignite all too familiar debates over gun control, with our usual advocates of the left, right and center repeating their equally inflexible positions which then appear on our expected and all too predictable, seriously scripted mainstream media outlets. And now, our always interesting conspiracy theorists have joined in discussions throughout our alternative media with seriously considered suspicions of a staged event. According to this sector this Aurora massacre took place in a location known to be a hub of the military/industrial complex. Holmes was studying on a $26,000 dollar government research grant, and had a documented interest in subjects such as “temporal spatial perceptions”, possibly related to mind control. This in turn has prompted questions about the military ties of his psychiatrist and a possibility of mind control programming. For those unfamiliar with MK Ultra and other covert government projects involving mind control there is extensive information about these supposedly defunct experiments at and a 1979 ABC News Special documentary is available on You Tube: “Mission Mind Control”. For those with this mind set, possible motives for setting up a Manchurian Candidate type of patsy would include a pretense for government seizure of private weapons or just another seemingly random event, set up to terrorize citizens into seeking more security through increased surveillance and suppression. All in all, it seems that viewpoints all around are deeply entrenched. Further discussions, amiable or otherwise, are not likely to change minds that are already made up as to what did or did not happen in that Colorado multiplex theater. As film critic Roger Ebert said, “We have seen this movie before”. Yes, and with our opposing political lines so firmly drawn, we are likely to suffer through many, or even an endless Knightmare of ongoing reruns.

From a systemic perspective, gun control might address the symptom but would not resolve our underlying dysfunction. In his recent article “We’re All In the Crosshairs” Randall Amster takes a deeper look at the complexities underlying this veritable shooting gallery/abbatoir, within which we now find ourselves. He postulates this kind of recent violence as a not unexpected response to a society that places alienation, dependency and casual brutality at its cultural core. Any serious change would require us to be willing to ask really hard questions about this culture of violence that we ourselves have created. Amster maintains that the mass-shooting phenomenon that happens routinely here in the USA is part and parcel of a society that legitimizes force, individualizes burdens, medicalizes despondency and demonizes dissent. Such a system has many people feeling utterly trapped, isolated and powerless to effect change, and some are likely to act out their desperation in horrifying ways. He goes on to ask, to how many violent images is an American child exposed ? How many marketing campaigns exploit feelings of diminished self-esteem and alienation? How do the mind numbing drones of mass media glorify the use of force, often on a daily basis? How many toxins, chemicals, and other alterants infuse our skies, our food and water supply and contaminate the larger environment? In how many ways are we made to accept dehumanization in our economic arrangements, as we inhabit a world in which everything is for sale and anything/anyone can be bought for a price?

Ours is an anti-life society where nothing is guaranteed, not our military might, not our civil liberties, not our privacy and certainly not a midnight movie in the suburbs. It just might be that if we were willing to stop arguing long enough to honestly face our situation that a positive shift could begin toward a direction of health. We could choose to begin an authentic engagement that takes nothing and no one for granted, prioritizes systemic health and individual potential as well as one that moves from lethal rigidity that serves the rich and powerful, in favor of one that acknowledges the dignity of all human beings as well as an urgent need to behave responsibly within our local and global environment.  ( Yes, it is late, and our odds are slim, but it could just be that we will still might have something like a choice.

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