Friday, February 01, 2008

Killing Joker: Heath Ledger and the Dark Knight Working

Well, the story is out: Leave it to Page Six, the gossip page of Murdoch's New York Post to go there first. But given the eerie parallels between Heath Ledger's death and that of former Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, the fact that Page Six ran a shot of Ledger wearing a knit cap made me sit up and take notice, since that was Raven's trademark look.

I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but I'd imagine it was several years ago given Raven's relatively healthy look. This was probably during one of his sabbaticals from Killing Joke, probably here during his stint with New York-based metal band, Prong. 

I'm not sure if this picture was from Prong's 1994 tour with Pantera. Raven was close friends with Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was shot to death onstage in Ohio by an ex-Marine named Nathan Gale (whose birthday was on September 11, incidentally).

Here is Raven onstage with Killing Joke for their 25th Anniversary Concert in London, wearing his trademark cap. This concert was recorded for an album and a DVD. Jaz Coleman is again wearing a variation on his evil clown makeup.

Which brings us back to Mr. Ledger. Watching the Gathering DVD I was struck that the Batman producers could have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble in the makeup department simply by hiring Coleman, who is far more frightening in real life than some dumbass comic book super-villain.

On the CD The Courtauld Talks, Coleman prophesied the return of the 'Elder Gods' described in the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. Here is an excerpt, the full effect of which is hampered by the absence of Coleman's manic, hectoring delivery.
Hear me out, please.
The major means of contact between the conscious man and the Elder Gods are the forgotten ones. Now, the forgotten ones dwell in the individual and irrational unconscious. They are the gods of survival, they are pre-rational, they are blind and immensely powerful. Their force manifested in man as hunger, the sex urge, the 'fight or flight' adrenaline reaction and the tribal cohesion factor. Hunger constitutes the primary link between the Elder Gods and the forgotten ones. 
The search for nourishment antedates the desire for mating, even the asexual amoeba must eat to survive. The process consists of the intake and assimilation of energy either directly as in vegetable photosynthesis or indirectly by consuming energy-storing matter. The forgotten ones seek both matter and energy. Particularly in substances that consist of both modes: blood, mediumistic ectoplasm, the alchemical elixir; now, this type of substance is used to trap the forgotten ones into manifestation. 
 Dare we entertain it, to effectively counter a planetary invasion by the Elder Gods the forgotten ones must be summoned to consciousness. In the process the individual's demons will be released and must be reabsorbed, the forgotten ones must be comprehended and absorbed and the link that exists between them and the Elder Gods must be obtained and controlled by the will of the magician. 
The forgotten ones have been left to work and function in the lower levels of sentience, gathering power and accumulating explosive potential under pressure. Now, it is in the controlled release of these gods that the consciousness will be propelled beyond its present state and achieve the next and necessary condition of gestalt-consciousness. I believe!
Here is another picture of Raven, which I believe was taken shortly before his death. He was not looking healthy for a few years before his death. One thing that is not well-known is that his most recent departure from Killing Joke was not amicable, and that he unleashed venomous tirades on his former bandmates on his MySpace blog. The posts vanished after his death and I haven't been able to track down them down as of yet. 

 So we have three individuals, now deceased, whom Killing Joke would have had reason to be displeased with. Kurt Cobain for his lift of the "Eighties" riff, Raven for leaving the band on the eve of an important tour and Ledger for appropriating Coleman's look. 

There is certainly no question of any sort of foul play, no possible suspicion of anything untoward, just three dead young men and strange synchronistic threads weaving between them and a band of practicing occult magicians, who recorded one of their biggest hits within the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

In May of 2007, moderator 'Jester' was tragically killed along with his 6 year -old daughter in a head-on collision in Texas. Killing Joke had played a benefit concert for Jester, who had suffered from cancer. But he and the band became at odds when Raven quit the band and Jester sided with the bassist.
And strangely enough, the first record made by Metallica after the death of bassist Cliff Burton included a cover of "The Wait," a Killing Joke setlist staple from their landmark first LP. 

 I'm not trying to exploit or sensationalize these tragedies, I'm simply trying to connect the dots between them. Like Ledger, Paul Raven seemed to be one of those strange attractors, though Killing Joke itself is also certainly at the center of all of this real-life, synchronistic mayhem. 

The band has spent 30 years knocking on very strange doors. One is given to wonder who- or what- has answered their summonses. This sort of thing is not new for Killing Joke - a strange energy has followed them around for several years. 

In a 1986 article entitled "The Fatal Curse of Killing Joke" Sounds journalist Neil Perry witnessed Coleman reveling in the fate of a fan who'd been impersonating Paul Raven:
Five minutes later the rest of the band have departed and Jaz and I sit in the Virgin press office, waiting for a car. He hands me a recent cutting taken from a provincial paper, which tells of the death of a man who has been impersonating Raven for the last two years. Jaz is morose and darkly amused by the whole episode.
"Ha! We've known about him for some time. It was coming to him."
Sorry? "It was coming to him, we knew about this chap."
But the fact that he got wiped out in a motorbike accident...?
"Raven took particular offence to it."
And it would be silly to draw any conclusions I know, but...
"It all depends on your intentions. If you associate with it, or use the name, it all depends on your intentions, what happens to you."
Post Script: Even if he had thought of it, Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan couldn't have cast Jaz Coleman as the Joker. Jaz is currently composer-in-residence for the European Union.