Monday, May 08, 2006

The Knight After 5: When the Student is Ready...

Early conversations with the Monk in this new phase of our acquaintance went smoothly. Extremely smoothly, in fact, which probably should have told me something was up. Not on his end, mind you, but on my own.

The program we were using to chat employs little icons for each speaker, which meant that each time I got a new message from him, I saw a tiny photo of him--one that I happened to remember quite well from our very first encounters. Happy memories, you might say. And I noticed they were starting to make me very, very ... happy.

Now, I realize how easy it would be for you to say, "Come on, Batman, don't you see he's getting his hooks in you? You have to fight back! Don't let him get away with this! Resist! Resist! You've done it before, and you can do it again!"

But something had changed. I had resisted before, and where had it gotten me? In the clutches of other villains, ready, willing, and able to face the fight of my life again. Only it never quite worked out that way. Either my adversaries turned out to be disappointing opponents, or--worse--they'd take me to the brink of utter defeat, make me putty in their hands, and then disappear for weeks at a time. There was no "next level"--either they were afraid to take me there, or they had other priorities, or something just came up.

Meanwhile, all along I was fighting to rid myself of a villain who had none of those qualities. When he'd had his hooks in me, he wouldn't dream of letting go. He was tailor made for me, and I for him, and we both knew it. The Monk had often referred to ours as a symbiotic relationship, in the classic Batman/Joker sense. We had a history, and--when you get right down to it--shared the same goals, deep down. There's no denying the truth: I didn't get into the bat-business in the first place to catch bad guys, I got into it to be caught by them, and no one in my experience has ever done a better job at it than him.

So I started to think: why run? Why not find out what happens if I take the Monk at his word and simply accept him as ... not my adversary but my teacher? My partner in crime(fighting)?

I've never followed the tv series Alias (my mistake, I'm sure, since I find both Michael Vartan and Bradley Cooper incredibly hot), but I gather that on at least one occasion, a plot twist inverted the whole premise of the show--up was down, left was right, black was white, and so on. Intrigued by that notion, I decided, pretty much overnight, to flip the script of the Bat/Monk saga. Instead of running from my fantasies of enslavement, I'd embrace them--with the goal of discovering what that very powerful desire had to teach me. I would return to the cage he had built for me (only to discover it was no longer a cage at all, but I'm getting ahead of myself).

It's a simple fact: every single prediction the Monk has made about my future actions has come to pass, sooner or later. To cite but one example, in one of our last conversations before the reunion he insisted I would one day return and willingly do the very same things he'd once forced me to do. I balked and took off--only to find myself fulfilling the prophecy, almost a full year later. Anyone who knows me that well, it seems to me, is worth a listen.

Skeptics are welcome to chalk this up to expert manipulative skills on M's part. Go right ahead; in fact, I myself thought of him when I saw Aaron Eckhart's lobbyist character in the movie Thank You for Smoking, who could probably talk a priest into Satan worship. But it's a moot point: I began to acknowledge and admit that the Monk only "manipulates" me into doing things I really do want to do. It was growing clearer and clearer to me that the only power he has over me is power I have freely and happily given to him all along--

--only now I was finally ready to admit that fact.

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