The Lawful Universe

What is the biggest threat to Batman’s world? Lawlessness. Chaos. Unpredictable, inexplicable mayhem. The Joker. The possibility that we’re participating in an infinite jest. That there is no Justice. There is no grand Virtue. There is nothing so Platonic that hangs above us and promises us anything beyond our current breath.

So what does Batman impose? Law. Order. Justice. The hope that restoration is possible, because there is an original, venerable state to which we ought to and can return. The hope that his parents didn’t live or die in vain. The hope that his life also has value.

Whether in science or in Gotham, laws serve and protect us.

And yet, we find our most potent moments of life in law-breaking, in exposure to our ever-present vulnerability, in confrontation with the unknown that we experience by crossing boundaries, in defiance against what we are told is natural and right, when we play the rebellious role defined by Dostoevsky’s narrator in Notes From Underground, when we do anything we can to assert that we are most certainly not piano keys. That we are too free to be pinned down by some physical law, for we transcend such imposition.

Sadly, we are re-discovering, yet again, the extent to which our social laws let us down. The extent to which they encumber us. Enslave us. Choke and destroy us. Everywhere we turn, we are bound by our own laws and categories, but we should be more careful to distinguish the laws that elude our control and the laws that depend on it. Some laws should be bound to change.

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