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I already covered the significance of the magazine’s locations and cover art here. In this section I’ll discuss the journal’s contents, which you can see in better detail here.
So, the first intriguing thing about the journal is that it’s Volume 238, Issue 3. I suspect it was prized enough for it’s biblical allusion, that Kubrick didn’t feel the need to use an issue from the previous half-year, to make that connection be the thing. So, the 238 is likely a happy accident. Same with the 3 in “Issue 3”, though the magazine does appear three times, including here in Suite 3.
As for the contents, the most striking article is the one on depleting oil reserves, in which the writer suggests that they’ll be depleted globally by the year 2000, and must be replaced by alternative energies. Of course, that didn’t happen, no doubt thanks to a multitude of factors, like the discoveries of new reserves. Of course, it’s a simple fact that in takes the planet millions of years to generate oil, and even if the entire planet was made from oil (below a livable crust of earth, I guess?) we would burn through it all eventually, and we have burned through most of it in just a couple generations. Whatever we do going forward, it won’t duplicate the last 100 years (although 100% of informed, aware people are afraid we’ll try). So I guess I’m wondering if this connects to what some before me noticed where the environmental concerns that emerge when you study the mirrorform.
Shots of a madman’s axe chewing into wooden doors overlay both the start and finish of the 2nd drive to the hotel, and a dying Jack waves his axe around in a tree maze throughout the smaller half of the opening drive.
Also, when you simply look at the movie proper, as discussed in Room 237, there’s a crossfade that makes it look like a janitor is “cleaning” the woodlands around the front of the hotel.
Now, I don’t think Kubrick was enough of an environmentalist to be saying, hey, let’s shut down the fossil fuel industry. Cars play a devilish role in facilitating the family’s entrapment, but planes and Buicks and snowcats are how the ones who can be saved are saved. For better or worse, he wasn’t an idealist hellbent on saving the human race from its myopic self-destruction. His main interest was “Is it true, and is it interesting?” There are interesting things that aren’t true, and true things that aren’t interesting. And climate change, despite its apocalyptic implications, isn’t as interesting as 99.9% of other things going on in the world. When a block of ice falls off in Antarctica that will definitely raise global sea level by some small percent, it’s out of sight and out of mind for most people. There’s no drama in that event. The drama, the interesting part of the reality, is what will come after. What island nations are calling (and can you blame them?) genocide. What the world’s leading intellectual, Noam Chomsky, has (too many times to count) likened to the omnicidal effects of nuclear war (just watch any speech by him on the subject–here’s a good one that, for him, is almost staggeringly brief). The other issue is that deforestation, salinization, and the melting of ice caps are all fairly depressing topics. I can almost feel your eyes glazing over as you read this.
So let’s return to Kubrick, who selected an issue that had, at page 42, an alarming report about global energy demands. How this plays into the Tower of Babel concept is perhaps rather obvious, but I think it also speaks to the hotel’s luring Jack into believing that everything in the past was always consistently great and sublime. As discussed, it’s actually terrible at presenting the past accurately, so it’s a testament to Jack’s idiocy that he buys into the presentation and the premise. This article, which exists thanks to science, is projecting a rather bleak picture of an hourglass rapidly losing sand. While it might have been wrong in its specifics, it way underestimates the severity of the impact for what it was right about.
That’s the most interesting article, with regard to the film, but note the others. An article on phones speaks to the difference between Wendy’s and Hallorann’s and Danny’s distress calls. The one on the surface of Mars speaks to how the isolated family might feel (though it’s sad that this magazine never appears on a Tuesday, which is associated to the god Mars). I’ve often thought about the one to do with different forms of efficient scheduling since it’s often struck me Kubrick creating this incredibly intricate masterpiece must’ve depended on some incredible capacity for self-organization, whatever the method. And the one about the flow of energy in a forest ecosystem, while it may very well relate to a solution for the climate change issue (if we could manage our resources as well as a forest…we could be saved?), I like to think this speaks more to the insanely labyrinthine relationship between all the buried winks and clues in the film, and how they all feed into things like the mirrorform and Redrum Road and the like.
Next literary reference: Burda Moden
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