The Golden Shining: Section X



88:14 – 143:14


I decided there wasn’t much point in doing a detailed analysis of this section, we’ve covered it all before. But I’ll talk briefly about the music, and about how the spiral cut works.

The music from Section X equals 61:03, and the music from Section IX equals 21:25, which gives us a grand total of 82:28, a palindrome. Now, it should be considered that I’m only counting two of the Wendy Carlos tracks in the film, Dies Irae/The Shining and Rocky Mountains, and none of the skittery heartbeat tracks, or the dentist drill sound during Danny’s shine (which I imagine Carlos created). There are 683 seconds worth of these bits, but there are layers to these sections that come and go, so it’s fairly difficult to tell them apart, and if they aren’t meant to be told apart, they don’t add anything to the 82:28 pattern. Also, the former two Carlos tracks were released on the original soundtrack, so I feel like that qualifies them for inclusion.

The one candidate for the spiral cut is three seconds away from Wendy smacking Jack with the bat, so it’s with a heavy heart that I select the other side as the likelier candidate. But just look at this. It’s the very end of Jack’s chiding line “See? It’s okay! He saw it on the television…” This means that the cut divides the pre-Overlook Torrances from the Overlook-consumed Torrances. And the moment overlays with Danny’s escape from the assault on Suite 3, his first major “escape” from the building (not to be confused with the lessons and escapes). So the backward spiral cut divides the endangered Danny and Wendy who are somewhat sitting around waiting to be killed from the actively escaping Danny and Wendy (though I admit that process probably starts more the second Wendy hears that first axe chop, 65 seconds earlier). I guess it would be better to say it divides the mother and son who have clung together for survival from the mother and son who must learn to trust the other can handle their shit, because Wendy gets stuck, and can’t follow. Indeed, the next time mother and son will reunite will be 225 seconds before darkness falls (the end of the movie, I mean).

There is one cute thing to point out about forward Jack here. A minute into Section X, the music in the Jack/Grady tryst switches to Henry Hall’s Home, and 15 seconds before spiral cut, Jack has busted through the first door and proclaims, “Wendy? I’m home.” I think that nicely addresses the fact that Section X backward Jack, for all the shades of his descent into murderous madness, really doesn’t have much of an arc. The first thing he does after the Grady tryst is murder the radio and snowcat. He’s a killer now, and, put simply, a killer he’ll remain.

Oh, I suppose I should also address the issue of the Section V-X connection.

The first half of forward Section V is Ullman’s warning about isolation bleeding into his warning about what became of Grady. In a sense that’s the most salient general information the pre-Overlook Torrances could’ve received, and it’s the subject of Tony’s warning to Danny, which sets up the doctor visit, which gives us the background on Jack enough to start placing our bets on whether he’ll go crazy, and whether that’s really the point of the movie (some people thought Danny would turn out to be a demon child, apparently, a la The Omen–incidentally, some people also feel the trike ride Damien performs in that film influenced the Danny trike rides).

The back half of forward Section V is basically the pre-doctor Wendy-Danny response to Jack getting the job. With Carson City and Colville behind Wendy, and Ullman and Watson and Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are behind Jack. We see the first Key (the escape key) as it scrolls past on Danny’s door, and Tony shows Danny his first major vision (which involves a reference to Hallorann (scream face), the hotel’s evil (the twins), and his eventual escape from Jack (the bloodfall, which Wendy sees right as Jack is about to be undone by Danny’s trap). The Overlook-consumed Torrances go on a tour with Ullman and Watson, while Danny encounters the twins. The escape key is reflected in the left-right lessons. The buried art references all seem to have descendants or direct connections. And Danny encounters the early signs of his three visions coming true; he meets Hallorann at length, he encounters 237 and the scary twins three times, and he sees zombie Jack and knows something is wrong with dad.

The back half of backward Section V is basically Wendy in the BJ well and Jack looking for hiding Danny, then chasing him into the maze. As I’ve discussed many times, the BJ well has to do with Wendy confronting the furthest extreme of her impulse to make her son into a surrogate husband. And that speaks well to her entire pre-axe-happy-Jack experience, where she discovers that Danny’s been taken over by Tony, and remains so until they’re reunited near the end. So, by pushing Danny out the window for his own good, and not thinking if she could follow, Wendy performed a perfectly selfless act, and whether Danny returned to himself in that moment, or some other moment, perhaps it’s owed to this selflessness on Wendy’s part (it just occurred to me that this is a fantastic way of looking at the birthing process (is that why the rungs on Jacob’s ladder are thought to be years?), which is exactly what Jack wants out of: the natural forward motion of time and procreation). As for the Danny/Jack chase, pre-axe-happy-Jack gets up to all his mischief inspired by the chat with Grady about Danny being a “very willful boy”. Grady does throw in the line about how he “corrected” his wife when she tried to prevent him from “doing [his] duty”, but it seems secondary because the hotel only seems to care if other shiners die on the property. In any case, Jack does a relatively poor job of going and correcting his son in this phase. It’s only in the last minute of this section that he seems to get serious about it. Like, where else would Danny be hiding? Oh, the BJ well also contains Trapper’s Camp, which is a reference to dead Hallorann, so that speaks to his whole role in this section.

And the first half of backward Section V is Danny enacting the escapes until he’s setting the trap that will undo Jack, while Jack pursues mindlessly, and while Wendy sees dead Hallorann, the Grady ghost, and the skeleton ball. The axe-happy-Jack portion of the film is fairly simple, dramatically, but I still think this is still neat. Jack spends this whole section as a mindless, murderous cretin, so that part’s apt. Danny’s back half is basically all about surviving Jack, which means putting together the lessons and escapes formulas in time, and here he is doing just that. And you can even read his backwards walk as a reference to the fact that he survives by following his footprints back out of the maze, or the fact that even remembering his lessons and escapes involved recalling his past crystal clear enough to invert the order of the left-rights. And Wendy’s witnessing the War aspect of the four horsemen in Hallorann’s corpse and Grady’s ghost’s appearance speaks to the uniquely violent nature of this passage, compared to all the others. Her witnessing the skeleton ball (Famine), as I’ve said in that theory speaks to her confronting the fact that Jack is likely going to die this night, and die he does. And Wendy and Danny are beyond caring.

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Let’s call this the “secret song” of eye scream. By which I mean, I don’t have any link leading readers here, and you wouldn’t know it exists unless you made it to the end of this, the most complicated analysis. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.

Basically, I’ve been thinking a lot about golden spirals lately (obviously), and it occurred to me that, arbitrary as our definitions of time can be, there’s still a way to find the golden ratios for various units of temporal measure. And just like I’ve been doing throughout all this analysis, you can measure from the one side of a time unit, or the other side, to create a little mini golden window in the middle.

So the first thing I thought of was the day. How many seconds are in a day, and what would be the golden window? Well, if we think of midnight as the anchor by which to judge, the golden window would be 1 second after 9:00am and 1 second before 3:00pm. This happens to either be the 33001st second or the 53399th second of the day (incidentally, dividing 86400 (the number of seconds in a day) by 53399 gives one of the closest things to a perfect golden ratio (1.618) as I’ve seen in all my work on this section, which is 1.618007827861945–off by one millionth of a percentage). I told my best friend about that and she told me there’s a popular practice (I forget the name) where 10am-2pm is what you’re supposed to treat as your prime hours everyday. So maybe that theory is on to something. As a night owl, I have to beg to differ. But still.

And there are, it should be noted, other ways of defining the day’s arbitrary starting point. In Jewish culture, for instance, the day starts at sundown, So if the sun set at 9:16pm, then the golden window for the next day would be 6:16am-11:16am. Also, note how the second is the 33000 mark and 54000 mark almost exactly, right? 33 and 54 are the minutes that bracket the eighth section of the Fibonacci Shining. So that’s a neat instance of one form of Fibonacci time mimicking another form of Fibonacci time. Of course, earth’s 24-hour day cycle is not exact. The true day contains exactly 236 (3:56) fewer seconds than we tell each other it does (was it thought to be 237 in 1979…?). Which means that the golden window should be 146 seconds shorter (2:26) on either side. But who’s counting?!

The golden window for a 31-day month (perhaps the arbitrariest of all measurements of time) is from the 12th to the 19th. So maybe don’t go on vacation that week, unless you’re planning to rock that vacation.

The golden window for the year is from May 19th – August 14th (the 139th day to the 226th day), or(!!!) on a leap year, it’s May 19th – August 13th (the 140th day to the 226th day). But yeah, leap year or no, the 226th day from either end is the spiral day. So the obvious lesson here is that Geminis, Cancers and Leos are basically the best and luckiest people ever, which they all already knew, so I don’t know why I even bothered mentioning it.


…not everyone celebrates New Years on the same day, either. So, to take one of the funnest examples, Islam, which celebrates roughly 10 days earlier than the year before every year (making it September 1st this year, fun fact), all these dates would get knocked back four months. Sorry summer babies. It’s a Capricorn/Aquarius/Pieces world if you’re down with Mohammad (and astrology) this year. The good news is, the new year is always changing, so the golden window of the year would shift along with it, spreading the astrological love around, throughout the eons.

You know, looking at it that way, it kind of sucks to have New Year’s on the same day every year. Why should Geminis, Cancers and Leos get to have all the golden window fun? Let’s revolt!

And finally, while none of us know when we’re gonna kick the bucket (and certainly many have gone down in the prime of their lives), if we imagine the ideal lifespan to be a cool 100 years, the golden window of your life would be 38-years-old to 62-years-old. Which is certainly the period when most artists do their greatest works. So if you’re a wunderkind who feels past your prime, never fear. The golden window of your life awaits!

Actually, here’s one that’s slightly more empirical, if slightly more depressing: the greatest life expectancy in the world right now is in Japan, where the average lifespan is 83.7. So if you’re lucky enough to be Japanese, your golden window is 32-52. May they be your kawaiiest years.

You know what, fuck golden spirals! Live your life however you want. If you’re alive you’re already as natural as they come. So just keep being that. Or don’t!

All joking aside, it does occur to me that this kind of golden-spirally/mirrorformy thought could be at the root of the human concept of time. Like, we start at some point counting the years, and that start point usually bears some kind of significance. The Gregorian calendar is pretty obvious. Everyone knows we started that calendar to mark the completion of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the most influential book of all time.

And in North Korea it’s the year 108 right now, because that’s how long ago Kim Il-sung was born.

But these just-out-of-view historical significances play on the popular unconscious. Whenever you’re walking around in billboard-free Pyongyang, and you think, “What year is it again? Oh yeah, it’s 108. Why is it 108? Oh yeah, because of glorious leader.” You might at some point start to wonder what could be expanded out from that concept. Like, will it matter if that number just keeps counting into infinity? Or is there some something that we’re building towards? Did something happen before that year? Something important? There must have been. Why was everything that happened before that year before that year? Was it worse on that half of time? Was it better?

There’s no way of ever being sure (I mean, it’s just so hard to quantify any of human experience). So the root year acts as a kind of mirrorform, not that we could learn anything about today’s technological climate from looking at 2019 BC (just because the Old Assyrian empire began in 2025 BC doesn’t tell us anything about why climate change could be about to reshape human civilization over the next ten years).

But perhaps the reason that we adhere to calendar systems is because a) like golden ratios they feel right (until they don’t anymore–unlike golden ratios), and b) like the mirrorform, they act as a boundary by which we can (rightly or wrongly) form a psychological position/framework about the past. The North Koreans (or, more accurately, their military leadership) obviously felt they had to make a big change in their calendar to help reinforce their concept of reality. But they could go back to using the Gregorian calendar if circumstances change enough. We could all go back to using the Traditional Chinese calendar where it’s the super space age year of 4716 this year.

I honestly doubt anyone cares enough about these things anymore to want to start all over again. But you never know, is my point, I guess. There may come a time when looking at the deep past and modern times as before Ovid’s Metamorphoses and after Ovid’s Metamorphoses no longer resonates with the majority of popular culture. And to bring it back to Kubrick, I actually have thought many times since realizing the Julius Caesar-July 4th connection if Kubrick was concerned by this notion of how the things we’ve forgotten affect us on a regular subconscious level. Like, is it really all forgotten now? Do we really never hear Wednesday and think “Odin”? Do we never hear July and think “Julius”? And if not, what are we doing to ourselves? Could we improve the system? Or is it plenty good enough to be constantly, subconsciously reminded of the untimely downfalls of epic conquerors?