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First, a correction: there was a while where I was confused about which “Carter Collapse” was being referred to by this issue, so if there’s still traces on the site of my thinking it had to do with the event from about a week after the Vela Incident (when President Carter collapsed during a marathon) my apologies. But if this was indeed filmed well enough after the Vela Incident, then I would say it’s likely Kubrick recalled talk of prior Carter Collapses, and included this, perhaps in part to be confusing, or to show the way history repeats. Or maybe I’m stretching a point to salve my earlier laziness.
In any event, the things discussed in this red issue (and in the blue issue to come) are almost an eye scream within an eye scream. I’ll try to be terse.
In a front page review, John Updike considers that Henry Green (in his book, Loving) recreates the sensation of being alive better than many writers. This is something I’ve told more than a few people about before starting them on The Shining. I grew up in the late 80s and 90s, and I can think of no film of the era that better captures what I felt like as a child (in almost any scenario) than The Shining. Incidentally, I recently felt this way about Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy.
Also, about Updike, he wrote The Witches of Eastwick (1984), which Nicholson would go on to star in the adaptation of (1987). I realize that’s an anachronistic point, but still.
There’s a review of Alfred Kazin’s New York Jew (1978), which is what Stanley Kubrick was around the same time as the period Kazin’s describing. Also, the book at the top of the closest stack, My Name is Asher Lev, is also about being a New York Jew.
There’s an article, visible to us in the film, criticizing Israel for its then-current sense of geopolitical identity. This would seem like a strange contrast to the appearance of Burda Moden.
There’s a cover review by Elizabeth Hardwick called Wives & Mistresses, which deals with three women connected to Tolstoy, Pasternak and Byron, though I haven’t found works by any of those masters in the film yet. I just wanted to point it out to suggest a subtle nod to Jack’s quasi-cheating on Wendy with the hotel, and his literal cheating on her with the 237 ghost. Also, Hardwick wrote three novels, two of which have titles relating to this matter: The Ghostly Lover (1945), and Sleepless Nights (1979). And remember, the link created by The Door means this scene connects to the scene right before Jack meets the 237 ghost.
But perhaps the most fantastic one-two punch comes in the form of the Carter Collapse writings, the first of which starts with a reference to Julius Caesar (a biography on whom sits above the doctor’s head), while the second derides Carter’s “officious, half-moon grin”. The novel of The Shining (published a week after Carter officially assumed the role of president) begins with this line: “Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.” Two pages later “officious little prick” will run through Jack’s mind another two and half times about his future employer. What’s really crazy about that second one is how it reads like the chairs-reversed perspective on how present Democrats view the election of the current president, as a candidate the establishment didn’t want, who snuck in against the odds. Anyway, was Kubrick sensing an inspiration there? Was Ullman (Kubrick’s own secret Satan) King’s analogy for the hippie reaction to the prudent stewardship advised by the Debbie Downer in chief? Was Kubrick’s more hipster Ullman a critique of that mistrust? After all, as discussed in my Redrum Road section, the first Come Together ends as we meet Ullman, and that song started as a protest against Ronald Reagan, who would become president. Reagan lost to Carter in 1976, and perhaps Kubrick had a sense, or knowledge, that he would run again. And perhaps that easy going charm of movie Ullman’s has to do with that.
Actually, at the risk of sounding like a crazy person (I felt like one doing the research for this), Reagan and Barry Nelson (Ullman), appeared on two of the same shows in the same years: Kraft Suspense Theatre (eight episodes apart), and The Dupont Show with June Allyson (four episodes apart). It also says on Nelson’s trivia page that he was a lifelong Republican. So, was the casting for Ullman based on “are you now or have you ever been on a shitty corporate-sponsered TV show with Ronald Reagan?” I doubt it, since Nelson has a more detectable connection to the film’s subtext, but that’ll come up later.
Anyway, this issue has some other articles worth mentioning, but I think those are the major ones. Feel free to make what you will of the others.
Next literary reference:
The New York Review of Books – Susan Sontag: Illness as Metaphor
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