Sascha Idakaar gives us an unusual perspective on Batman over at Modern Mythology:
The mask is an idea, a symbol, we could look at from a million angles. It is, even at first glance, our double, a close relative of the mirror — but it is something other than the mirror. The mirror shows us our double. A mask creates a second double atop us. It transforms rather than reveals.
At the same time, a lot of psych pop lit has been written about Batman. But I’d like to use Batman as the pop culture model of the role of the mask.
Who is Batman, really?
Is is a story about how an emotionally disturbed, very rich young adult deals with psychological trauma that he cannot let go of. Some ideas, some emotions, are things that we hold onto, and they are done with us the moment we are done with them. But others have us in their clutches, and they are only done with us when they are ready. This becomes a subject of subconscious, and the only way to deal with such things is to try to find a way to speak the language of the subconscious. Not just the subconscious, but our subconscious. Every single one has a different symbolic and emotional makeup. Any therapeutic system that misses this will basically be a crapshoot, whether that system lines up well with the stories that are embedded inside of you.
What Batman does in the Batman Begins version is a very shamanic (if simplified) trope — to try to make contact with and become your deepest fear as the mask to wear to deal with the rest of the underworld. The mask of a protector spirit is precisely this, an ally that you befriend to keep other terrifying forces at bay. That ally or protector spirit is often nothing short of terrifying itself, but in one way or another you have made a truce with it. (Note: “Ally” is used by Carlos Castenada, “protector spirit” is more generalized. There are plenty of examples of this basic model in Eliade’s analysis of Shamanism.
Read the full post at Modern Mythology