The Shining in 2015

Each year brings about changes. It’s a truism, almost. It’s cliched, but it’s also true-and interaction with media slowly starts changing, when experience forces new perspective.

The only thing, after a year fighting with the shadow [the Jungian shadow, for those of you playing along at home and who may have just tuned in], what has become apparent in my yearly reading of The Shining is how much of that book is propelled by grief. This is a set of people who are all grieving (including Danny, and maybe Danny most of all)-mainly the loss of relationships. Some of these relationships never even had the chance to get off the ground.

It’s weird, because I’m noticing the deep, deep sadness that runs through this book for the first time. This is a tragedy, in the Greek sense. At least, that’s where it falls closest. It’s not a tragedy in the way that we normally use the term now-it’s a tragedy in the “I just woke up and realized my wife is my mother” type sense. When reality starts falling apart in a way that makes you realize that all of it was a lie, or the very least, a very very limited paraphrase of actual reality.

The book is actually scarier this year. Maybe because I know what’s coming? There is a sense of dread that follows the characters around, especially when they all start coming to terms with their own death, and their own shadows. I think that’s one of the thing that King did best in this era-The Shining is going on a picnic into the shadow, where we don’t really want to go but know we have to go. At the risk of sounding like woo-woo new age, we all know that there’s a part of our lives where the hedges start moving and the past really wants us to go back-so it can kill us. If that part of our lives hasn’t come yet, we know, as we get older, that there’s always the potential that it will be coming because all that’s happened is that we’ve gotten lucky and we’re on borrowed time.

I will say that it’s an interesting experience re-reading this novel while AHS Hotel is still airing, because it peaks its head up every so often. How can it now? I’m not sure that it would even be possible to do hotel-horror without at least passing glances to The Shining even when it’s not deliberate. There are a lot of similar themes that run through both, especially with the nature of addiction and desire (and the way that both become so ingrained that no one really actually -wants- to give them up, which is why it’s so hard to let both die). The main difference between the two is that the Cortez seems to have no interest in a slow burn run up to getting its machinery moving, while the Outlook likes to play with its dinner a little first.  Admittedly there’s also side eyes to A Tale of Two Sisters/Rose Flower, Red Lotus in Hotel that I wish wasn’t used because it’s a touch overdone….


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