MOLOKOV: The man is utterly mad! You’re playing a lunatic.
THE RUSSIAN: That’s the problem: he’s a brilliant lunatic. You can’t tell which way he’ll jump. Like his game, he’s impossible to analyze. You can’t dissect him, predict him — which of course means he’s not a lunatic at all.
–from the musical Chess
The Joker is a lunatic, of course, but that quote came to mind while khet_tcheba and I were discussing why Heath Ledger’s take on the character was so disturbing. And it made me realize that you can’t triumph over his Joker: you can capture him, or you can thwart his plan, but you will never get the satisfaction of a psychological victory. There is absolutely nothing you can do that will make him react with real chagrin and acknowledge that you have bested him, not because he’s too egotistical to admit his own defeat, but because he’s too chaotic; defeat can only happen if he’s invested in a particular outcome. And he isn’t. Anything you do, or don’t do, is equally amusing to him, equally a demonstration of the chaos and meaninglessness he sees.
. . . and that’s creepy.