Saturday, September 22, 2012

Post-Aurora Lexilinking

By the pricking of my thumbs, 
Something wicked this way comes. 
~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!
~ The Joker, in The Dark Knight (2008), written by Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer, characters created by Bob Kane.

There are many ways to read the Joker's statement.

It is with some simplicity that academic thoughts may consider this summer's mass shootings as distractions from facing deeper societial issues. Harvard student Heather L. Pickerell did write, recently, comparing the 52 wounded and 12 killed in Aurora on July 20th with Iraqi causalities: "Did you know that 82 people were killed and 180 wounded by car bombs in Iraq on the same day as the shootings?"

While tragic and unfortunate, of course, she misses part of the bigger picture herself.

Wars, warzone deaths, systematic civil war causalities, and inner city gang shootings have become background noise in a culture that does experience violence closer to home in raw moments of stark realities. But in a broader context, before the latest homegrown wave of shootings dies down (sincerely, no pun intended), many other people will die, many others will be scarred, emotionally and physically, for life. Mass violence deaths, whether in Aurora, Columbine, and VA Tech, or in lesser remembered locations like Oak Creek, Bailey, and Nickel Mines, are as real, week to week, as the deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Believe it or not, the major difference is that the human psyche appears to consider it more understandable, even more rational, to conceptualize the loss of lives in national, regional, and turf wars. It is less within our frames of reference to figure out what is happening within the landscape of the human mind that leads to mass shootings. But both are equally awful.

Part of the rationale for a deeper examination of the copycat effect, an investigation of the behavior contagion among mass killers and spree shooters, has been to find a key to opening that door or window to the comprehension of things like the summer of shootings we have just experienced.

Often, it requires thinking outside the box. Therefore, one avenue of pursuit I have traveled down is seriously noting if lexilinking could be a factor. Let me explain.

First, what is "lexilinking" (for those of you who have never heard the word before)?

Several writers, like myself, began using "lexi-links" or "lexilinks" within articles we wrote for Fortean Times and other publications in the 1970s. 

Bob Rickard reminded me that "lexilink" was coined by Anthony J. Bell in his article, "Lexi-Links: Nature's Play on Words" in Fortean Times 17 (August 1976), pages 5-7.

Bell specifically looked at a new concept, lexilinks, and defined them this way:

Bell examined the "frequency of certain words" to attempt to decode what might be happening. He found that the "phenomenon of link-words" in articles and books is often "mirrored by link-words of events in the physical world." These incidents were, he surmised, related to "various violent events and no doubt have some sort of sociological significance," as he penned in that initial 1976 contribution.

Anthony J. Bell, who penned his letters with a northern English cadence, turned out to be a mysterious figure himself, with a mysterious name (see Bell). He ended up quietly appearing in Fortean Times twice after that. Bell wrote only one other article which developed the theme of puns and lexilinks in "Precession of the Gracious - Fallout of the Damned," in Fortean Times 20 (February 1977), on pages 14-17. He also sent in a brief letter on crop circles, which appeared in Fortean Times 58 (July 1991), in which he accurately predicted that crop circles would increase in complexity from their early simple designs.

Editor Bob Rickard wrote me in September 2012 that after the 1991 letter, at Fortean Times, "We never heard from him again."

Lexilink, as a word, has not actually entered any formal dictionaries. Wikipedia, indirectly, has apparently (in the past?) defined it vaguely this way: "A lexilink is a lexical link. This can be based on etymology, translations from other languages, and Anglicizations and other similar transformations."

Venturing into making some debunking comments related to "lexilinks," we then find this: "Lexilinks can be ascribed to coincidence, hoaxes, and some kind of conspiracy."

Not exactly a well-formed definition, it has vanished from the formal Wikipedia site, but the attempt lives on at Academic Kids.

Lexilinks are used in the twilight language analysis of events, frequently. Let's look at the Summer of the Gun's lexilinks, discovered in conjunction with the Aurora and post-Aurora world of 2012. Finding them brings up the usual questions. 

Are the coincidences found in the lexilinking being mined after Colorado's Aurora red dawn event, in some inexplicable way, part of the copycat effect? In other words, do what we are discovering synchromystically, as "coincidences" and "synchronicities," are variables in these cases that serve as cosmic triggers or programmed stimuli to the individuals involved? Do the shooters suddenly sense they are engaged in some form of theater reinforced by the lexilinking they find themselves in the midst of? Do the "coincidential" lexilinks act as risk factors pushing them over the edge?

The lexilinks found in the Aurora case and the shootings and related incidents that followed have been rather mind-blowing. The visual copycat effect experienced through repeating imagery of colorfully-haired Jokers and body-armored Banes is easier to understand. But the appearance of names in the stories, one linked to the other, is more difficult for the human brain to compute.

Take, for example, the visual linking that may have been overlooked, even though I mentioned it briefly before. The first verbal and written reports of the shooter - before any photographs were published of James Eagan Holmes - told of the Aurora killer having a goatee (even though this apparently did not turn out to be true, we are told). For example, moviegoer Corbin Dates, 23, who was sitting in the second row for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, told television news reporters of a man sporting a goatee who, before the film started, answered a cell phone call, then got up and propped open an emergency exit door.

Guess what "look" appeared over and over in the first wave of Aurora copycats? Yes, most of these copycats had scruffy beards and goatees:


Let's look, therefore, beyond the visual, at a few of the specific word lexilinks that have popped up related to the Aurora events. (BTW, this rendering is not comprehensive, but it shows some highlights. Please pass along more, via comments, below.)

During the spring of 2012, the area around Denver, Colorado was swept by wildfires.

The political news was filled with presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Bain (= bones, death, white) Capital involvements.

Excitement was building on the horizon for the release of The Dark Knight Rises: A Fire Will Rise, a film by Christopher Nolan starring Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Tom Hardy as the super-villian Bane (= bones, death, white).

At the July 20, 2012, midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Century 16's Theater 9, a man dressed in a gas mask, body armor, and with automatic weapons - dressed as Bane - opened fire on the movie audience in Colorado (= red), in Aurora (= dawn). The suspect then takes off his Bane costume to reveal himself to have orange hair, and declared himself, "I am the Joker."

The suspect was arrested. His name is James Eagan (= fiery) Holmes. He killed 12, and wounded 52 others.

Several copycat incidents occurred, some reflecting the Aurora incident, alluded to being Jokers or Banes.

For example, one of them on July 31, 2012, resulted the arrest of Thomas Michael Casper for a report of loud music ended up taking Casper making repeated references to "the Joker" and the Colorado theater shooting, telling police he understood the shooter's motives and would embark on his own rampage. The lexilink that became quite obvious was that this incident occurred in Eagan, Minnesota, a town with the same middle name as James Eagan Holmes, the Aurora suspect.

The Sikh Temple shooting took place on August 4, 2012, at Oak Creek, Wisconsin, resulting in seven dead, including the shooter Wade Michael Page (who lived on Holmes Avenue in nearby Cuhady, Wisconsin) and use to live in Littleton, Colorado (location of Columbine). Page, it has been pointed out, is the squire of a knight, and Wade Michael Page, as a neo-Nazi envisioned himself a Dark Knight. On July 20, 2012, a misidentification occurred when another James Holmes living in Littleton, Colorado had his Facebook page flooded with comments.

On the night of September 4, 2012, a gunman shot and killed one person during the Parti Québécois victory rally in Montreal, Quebe, Canada. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been gunfire and an arson fire had been set in the back of the Metropolis concert venue.

The suspect arrested was named Richard Henry Bain, and he owned Les Activités Rick Activities, a fishing camp on Lake Wade in La Conception, near the resort of Mont-Tremblant.

Richard Henry Bain, above, and Bane, the villian, below.

On September 5, 2012, police arrested a man wearing "Joker" makeup at a Florida movie theater after someone reported the man acting suspiciously, the Melbourne Police Department said. When police arrived at the Premiere Theatre, they found 21-year-old Christopher Alex Sides with his face painted like the Joker from the Batman movies and his hair dyed pink (or orange in some lighting). What was soon discovered was his intriguing address.


An earlier arrest is part of the recent public record: "Christopher Alex Sides, 19, of 1802 Aurora Park Circle, Melbourne, was charged April 17 with felony violation of conditional pre-trial release." "Police Report - Melbourne, Brevard County Sheriff's Office," Hometown News, April 29, 2011.

That's right. Sides lived in a trailer at the Aurora Park.

Enough for now. The lexilinks abound.

Oh yes, be alert next summer.

The new Superman film, Man of Steel, is due to be released on June 14, 2013 (Flag Day in the USA).
Oral tradition passed on through multiple generations holds that on June 14, 1908, Theodore Roosevelt was dining outside Philadelphia, when he noticed a man wiping his nose with what he thought was the American Flag. In outrage, Roosevelt picked up a small wooden rod and began to whip the man for "defacing the symbol of America." After about five or six strong whacks, he noticed that the man was not wiping his nose with a flag, but with a blue handkerchief with white stars. Upon realization of this, he apologized to the man, but hit him once more for making him "riled up with national pride." Source.
Man of Steel covertly staged part of their film pre-production and production work from a trailer near the International House of Pancakes, the IHOP, in Aurora, Illinois (pictured), at Orchard Road and Interstate 88, on July 27, 2012.

The production company did some filming later in August 2012, in Illinois, in Plano (the same name of a town in Texas directly associated with waves of suicide clusters and suburban heroin overdoses).

Man of Steel is from Warner Brothers, as are the three The Dark Knight films. The fear of the Superman curse appears to be a cause for concern among a few Warner executives. The hex has haunted Superman films and television programs for decades.

The Dark Knight trilogy's Christopher Nolan produced and cowrote (with David S. Goyer) Man of Steel, which is the first part of an 8-hour long trilogy. The director is
Zack Snyder, whose films, Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300 (2007), Watchmen (2009), and Sucker Punch (2011), are well-known for their graphic-novel-like violence.

American trailer: Kevin Costner narrates.


International trailer: Russell Crowe narrates.


Mark said...

In 1968, a year after being Poet-In-Residence at CalTech, Richard Brautigan published the book, "The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," which contained this poem:

"The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster"

When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
    lost inside of you.

Greg Tramel said...

lone wolf

Anonymous said...

Have you seen that they are releasing a remake of the 1984 movie "Red Dawn" on November 11, 2012? Do you think there will be any connection?

Loren Coleman said...

Dear Anonymous

Yes, I overviewed the remake of the movie Red Dawn over a month ago.

See New Red Dawn Redux.

aferrismoon said...

"The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado on behalf of Joshua Nowlan, Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod."

Nowlan mimics filmaker Nolan.
Traynom resembles Trayvon
Axelrod merely sounds like some wierd , mechanically-obsessed superhero , but, hey, could be a pseudonym for Bain :)

Also still no mention of why a 6 year old was allowed into a midnight showing of a PG-13.

The lawsuits are because, apparently, the security staff were given the night off.


wklaus23 said...

In a Gutenberg Galaxy far, far away....

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who, upon seeing the Superman logo and the reference to Lexilinking (a new term to me), thought that it was in reference to LEX Luthor?