Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Collectioning

Rejected alternative titles for this blog post:

"Building My Kingdom"  (ugh)

"I Be Buyin' Shit"  (I kinda like that one)

"New Additions"  (boring)

"What I've Bought Recently"  (terrible)

So, apparently my titling talent just isn't present today.  No matter; we're going forward with "Collectioning," which is stupid, but is also evocative in a curious way.  Or maybe not.  Either way, we're stuck with it now.

And now, a tasteless motivational poster:




Aww...

Anyways, to the point: having recently had one of those lovely months that brings three paychecks instead of the standard two, I found myself with some spending money, and I put most of it to use bulking up my Stephen King and James Bond collections, both of which were feeling a bit as though they had lagged behind.  We won't concern ourselves here with the James Bond collectioning, but I wanted to share some of the King-related items I've picked up.  A plot to make you jealous?  Not intentionally; just an excuse to put a blog post out today.


coll-ect-ion-ing  (kƏ lek' shƏn ing)    1.  the process of systematically adding to one's collection of a specific type or category of objects.  2.  a sign of low-grade obsessive-compulsive disorder.  3.  another reason for people in Third World countries to hate people like me.

So, what's been added to the collection recently?  Let's start with some graphic novels.







I've been buying American Vampire since the series began, so I've got every issue that there is.  However, I'd never gotten around to buying any of the collected editions, and it was bugging the hell out of me.  So, in one fell swoop, I picked up all three of them in hardback.  (A fourth is due next week; it'll probably have to wait a while, just like these did.)

It's a terrific series, and for those of you who are concerned that you might not like it because (A) it's a comic book and/or (B) because Stephen King only co-wrote Volume One, let me say this: buy the first volume, and just give it a chance.  If you like it, buy Volume Two, and you like it, buy Volume Three.

It's just that simple.




Just as I had every issue of American Vampire, thereby making it somewhat pointless for me to get the collected editions, so it is with Marvel's The Stand.  (And with the other titles I'll be talking about after this one.)  I could not pass up this omnibus edition, however, and while part of me wishes I hadn't spent the triple figures it cost me, I have to say, it looks awfully good sitting on my shelf.  
 
And at some point in time, I'm going to hella enjoy sitting down and reading the entire thing the same way I'd read a novel.  I was somewhat frustrated with it in single-issue form; sometimes I thought it was great, sometimes I thought it was decent, sometimes I found myself not particularly caring about it in any way.

In any case, it's all over now, and you've got to admire the fact that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Mike Perkins were able to complete the entire thing without -- I think this is accurate -- ever once falling behind schedule.  That's an achievement, and my guess is that reading the entire series in one big gulp is going to make some of the problems seems less problematic.



I enjoyed the hell out of Marvel's adaptation of N. when it came out, so I'm VERY pleased to finally have the hardback on my shelf.  Marc Guggenheim did an excellent job adapting the short story to the comics medium; he added things to the story, but they are thoroughly consistent with King's tale (in the same way that Frank Darabont's additions to The Shawshank Redemption are, if you want a comparison for what I mean).

And I hadn't remembered until I got the hardback that THIS is where I know Alex Maleev from.  I've been bitching about his art on the current miniseries The Gunslinger: The Man In Black recently, and flipping through the pages of N. simply reinforces my opinions.  Not in the way you'd think, though: I'm reminded that I loved Maleev's art for N., and this makes his work on The Man In Black seem all the weaker in comparison.

That's disheartening, but don't let it influence your thoughts about N.: this one is well worth picking up.




From Marvel to IDW, who recently put out the four-issue miniseries Road Rage.  This consisted of a two-part adaptation of the Stephen King & Joe Hill short story "Throttle," as well as a two-issue adaptation of the story that inspired "Throttle," Richard Matheson's "Duel."

I ran hot and cold -- mostly cold -- on these comics, but they are still worth checking out; the art is pretty good, and the stories are good enough that even when they aren't adapted terribly well (which is how I felt), they still shine through enough to entertain.

Best of all, both King and Hill wrote short essays that appear here as introductions (King's to "Throttle" and Hill's to "Duel").  Hill's in particular is excellent, and it's just as much about King as it is about Matheson; more so, probably.




Speaking of Joe Hill, the fifth volume of Locke & Key is out now.  It's called "Clockworks," and it is terrific.

In the course of starting this blog and communicating with other King fans, I have occasionally run into roadblocks in terms of convincing people that Locke & Key is worth their time.  I don't have much trouble on the general subject of Joe Hill, who most King fans seem to agree is awesome; it's the fact of Locke & Key being a comic book that seems to trip some people up.  I've heard some say they find comics difficult to read; I've heard others say that comics "aren't really reading" at all.

To each his own, but in my opinion, comics are demonstrably capable of being every bit as rich as the finest prose, or the best movie.  To my mind, Locke & Key proves it.  It's maybe a few baby-steps behind the best work of Alan Moore, but otherwise, this is as good as any comic I've ever read ... which places it in the vicinity of the best fiction I've ever read.  Of any type.




I can't say the same for The Cape, sadly.  The original short story by Hill is phenomenal, and it made for a very logical choice to be adapted into the graphical medium.

This collection is composed of five chapters: one is a straight-up adaptation of the short story, and the other four are a sequel to it, as written by Jason Ciaramella.  Of those four, I thought the first three were terrific, and the last one was ... not.  In fact, it was so much not that I can't in good faith recommend this collection.  There is some good art here, and some great individual scenes, but on the whole it feels like a misfire.

*****

That's it for the graphic novels.  Moving on, we come to some movies:



Part of my September splurge was on finally -- FINALLY! -- buying a Blu-ray player.  I'd long since realized that each and every DVD I bought was just a Blu-ray I was eventually going to have to upgrade to, so it really made next to no sense to not just start buying Blu-rays.  The problem with that is that I don't have an HDTV.  I've got a '98 Zenith, which means that those Blu-rays would look exactly like DVDs on my teevee.

Still, it makes no sense to keep buying DVDs of stuff that is available on Blu-ray, and so I have finally made the change.

And so it is that Season 2 of Haven became my first Blu-ray purchase.  I don't particularly like the show; I don't think it has much of anything to do with Stephen King.  It feels, frankly, like a lame cash-grab.  And they just grabbed some of my cash.

Well done.

To be fair, I didn't watch the entirety of the second season when it aired, so maybe it got better after I stopped watching.  At some point, I'm going to sit down and watch the episodes I missed, and give it a fair shake.  But I'm not too excited about it, if you want to know the truth.

Speaking of things I'm not too excited about, here are a couple of DVDs I bought to bring my King movie collection up to date:





These are both terrible movies; hard to imagine why I'd taken so long to buy them.

In the case of A Return to Salem's Lot (a genuinely pathetic -- borderline incompetent -- movie), it was a rebuy; I own the VHS, but amazingly had never been able to motivate myself to upgrade, despite the fact that I don't even have a functional VHS player anymore.  But, finally, I did upgrade to DVD.  God help me, but someday, if it's ever released on Blu-ray, I'll probably upgrade it again...

As for Bag of Bones, well, it's shit.  This is no surprise, given that it was directed by Mick Garris, who has never directed anything that isn't shit, as far as I'm concerned.  What DOES surprise me is that there is no commentary track from Garris here, and that bums me out.  I'm not a fan of Garris as a director, but I enjoy his commentary tracks; he sounds like a very affable fellow, and his love for Stephen King's work is always abundantly evident on his commentaries.  So while I didn't like what he did with Bag of Bones, I was nevertheless looking forward to hearing what he had to say about it.

I'm sure it'll come out on Blu-ray eventually; maybe there will be a commentary then.

*****

Finally, a smattering of books and such:




Until listening to a recent episode of The Lilja & Lou Podcast, I had no idea that Stephen King had served as the reader for the audiobook of Tabitha King's novel One On One.  It's an abridged reading, sadly, but nevertheless, I snapped up the first used copy I could find.

Now to convert it to MP3s!  My only method for doing that is to hook up my cassette deck, put my MP3 player (which is capable of recording audio) in front of it, and then press play on the one and record on the other.  Final step: lock my cats in another room so the recording isn't punctuated by incessant food requests.

Next up:




This is Tin House #40, which included a King poem, "Mostly Old Men."  I didn't have that poem in any form, so I'm happy to finally have a copy of this one.  Will I sleep easier at night as a result?

It's entirely possible.







Stephen King has written a large number of introductions to other writers' books, and here are two I crossed off my list.  I've by no means got a complete collection of these; maybe someday.

And finally, one of the items I'm happiest to have:




Yep, that's a copy of Marvel's Bizarre Adventures #29, which included a nineteen-page King-scripted adapted of "The Lawnmower Man," with art by comics legend Walt Simonson.  I'd never bothered looking for a copy, mainly because I assumed it would be out of my price range; I was not entirely correct about that, given that this issue -- which is in terrific condition -- set me back a mere $13.
 
To this day, it is one of the very few comics King himself has scripted.  It's good stuff; nothing revelatory for anyone who's read the short story.  Walt Simonson's black-and-white art is excellent.

Welcome to the collection, you!

*****

And that brings the recent round of collectioning to a close.  Now, to rearrange the shelves...

24 comments:

  1. Okay, here's my promised summation of my misgivings about Doctor Sleep. I probably haven;t explained it all, but here goes.

    I’ve debated a long time whether to put this all down. I now realize a lot of the hestitance had to do with the fear that I’d be misunderstood, or that people might think I was badmouthing their favorite author. I’m not trying to do any of those things and it’s that realization which makes me write down the following.

    As some of you know, I have a low opinion of the upcoming Stephen King book, Doctor Sleep, an unnecessary (to me) continuation from his 1977 hit the Shining. My reasons for it aren’t complex, however they do take time to explain, which I’ll try to do now.

    My misgivings abut Sleep revolve around several words or concepts. They are, in no particular order:

    Donald King, Richard Bachman, Nellie Ruth King, Alcohol and Drug abuse, Archetpyes of the Collective Unconscious, Jack Torrance and the Sixties.

    All these things are interrelated as far as I’m concerned. It’s hard to know where to start as there seems to be so much to talk about. I guess the best place would be with Archetypes. It’s a phrase from psychologist Carl Jung. He believed that Archetypes were really the psychological contents, images or ideas of the imagination, which Jung termed the Collective Unconscious. To Jung, imagination wasn’t an individual possession, he felt that imagination was something everybody possessed, and that it was a useful tool in the struggle for survival. Without imagination, Jung was convinced; man might never have left the cave. Jung theorized that certain people were more attuned to the Collective Unconscious and the Archetypes than others, i.e. some people are, by nature, creative and can utilize the imagination. These people were your artists, painters, poets, songwriters, and just plain writers. These were all people with the given ability to cooperate with the Archetypes (Jung stressed that Archetypes were not inventions but spontaneous artistic forms (his word) that existed independent of conscious intent).

    Analyst Erich Neumann said it better so here are his words:

    “They (Archetypes) are the pictorial forms of the instincts, for the unconscious reveals itself to the conscious mind in images which, as in dreams or fantasies, initiate the process of conscious reaction and assimilation.”
    Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness.

    Did anybody get that? Me neither, at first. It took me a while to figure out what the hell Jung and Neumann (though not Kramer) were talking about. I soon realized that the terms they usedwere just scientific descriptions for the imagination and how it works. It goes something like this.

    ChrisC

    To be continued.

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    1. Let's see if I'm getting this: individual imagination is merely a representation of a collective psyche? Sort of similar to the way in which we are nearly all born with the ability to run, but some of us have a greater facility for it?

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  2. Continued from last post.

    This is going to take a while so everybody stay with me here.

    Everybody has instincts, without them there’s no incentive or achievement. The greatest factor that determines our behavior above all else is our instincts. Now everybody has the same set of instincts, one person doesn’t have a flight or fight response, or a will, or ego while another doesn’t. The instincts generate consciousness and are the ground of rational thought, and therefore probably not as irrational as people think. I’m getting back to King and Sleep, you’ll just have to follow me on this.

    The imagination, is another instinct and what it does is utilize the other instincts to create a series of inter-connected images drawn from other instincts such as fear, courage or memory (and make no mistake, Jung thought memory was as much an instinct as thought itself and that it too was collective, implying that the whole vast store of human history might be potentially contained in the head of a newborn. Jung liked to think big!). Now instincts create our consciousness and also give us our ability to create images around certain concepts (for fight or flight you have either a knight, boxer or a chicken running around in circles) those are archetypal images. What happens apparently is the instinct of imagination (Collective Unconscious) draws on other instincts to create fantasy thoughts and images which some people utilize.

    ChrisC

    To be Continued





















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  3. Jungian analyst Frieda Fordham says it better than I can so here are a few quotes:
    Fordham: We may hazard a guess that the primordial images, or archetypes, formed themselves during the thousands of years when the human brain and human consciousness were emerging from an animal state but their representations, i.e. the archetypal images, while having a primordial quality, are modified or altered according to the era in which they appear. Some, especially those indicative of an important change in psychic economy…Others present themselves as human or semi-human forms, gods and goddesses, dwarfs and giants, or they appear as real or fantastic animals and plants of which there are countless examples in mythology

    She also relates archetypes to dreams:
    Fordham: Jung holds dreams to be natural and spontaneous products of the psyche, worth taking seriously, and producing an effect of their own, even if this is neither realized nor understood. Dream language is symbolic and makes constant use of analogies, hence its frequently obscure or apparently meaningless character.

    What’s this got to do with King?

    Hold on, I’m getting there.

    To be continued

    ChrisC

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    Replies
    1. I ought to admit that I'm not really interested enough in psychology to have a firm opinion on this ... BUT, in general, I tend to think I would be more of a Jungian than a Freudian. That said, it makes a certain amount of sense to me that imagination would represent -- and emanate from -- a sort of (vaguely Borg-like) cultural collective consciousness.

      Delete
  4. I just realized this will take more posts than usual however my whole response is already written. What I think is best is just give your own thoughts so far as concerned and then if there's space I'll try and paste in the bloody thing.

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry right now. HAR!

    ChrisC

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    1. So far, I'm not hearing anything that persuades me toward your side of the table. I think there is an argument to be made that stories live within us ... although if I'm following what you're saying, you're making the argument that stories actually are more like fish swimming in a massive pond. The pond represents the collective unconsciousness of us as a species, and the fish represent our primordial, ingrained archetypes. Or something like that.

      We are all storytellers of a sort, which here would be like being fishermen; when we dream, we are casting our lines into this pond, and pulling out fish. Some of us can also do this consciously. For example, authors.

      King's analogy would be that it isn't a pond at all; it's an excavation. He's walking in the woods one day, and trips over what seems like a piece of metal sticking out of the earth. So, he goes to get a shovel and he digs and he digs and he digs until he's uncovered a millions-of-years-old spaceship. Or, put another way, until he's written a novel, whole and complete.

      Delete
    2. But what if it only LOOKS complete? That spaceship is too big to lift out of the Earth; what if there is more of it underneath, and it simply can't be seen?

      What if the story isn't actually complete?

      To extend the analogy, what if King, after he finished digging up the vessel that is "The Shining," continued to remember its location all these years, and eventually came to the realization that there just MIGHT be more ship buried underneath? Then, he goes out -- a little less physically fit than before, but still highly capable -- and digs around a little bit more, making a tunnel downward. And then, he strikes more metal, and discovers that there really IS more to be unearthed!

      It seems to me like you are proceeding from a base assumption: that you know "The Shining" better than Stephen King does, and you've got it figured that there can't POSSIBLY be any more ship beneath the ground, because you peeked into the hole and saw it, and it looked like a whole, complete ship to you.

      It seems to me as if the man who did the digging -- all by himself, sweating in the sun for days on end and getting dirt in his hair and up his nose and in his eyes -- is VASTLY more qualified to make that determination than you are. It doesn't mean you won't end up being right; it just seems awfully presumptuous to assume that you know the lay of this particular mental land better than Stephen King does.

      Delete
  5. Okay, here's a series of quotes from Jung and an associate that will get things rolling. Hold on:

    Jungian analyst Frieda Fordham says it better than I can so here are a few quotes:

    Fordham: We may hazard a guess that the primordial images, or archetypes, formed themselves during the thousands of years when the human brain and human consciousness were emerging from an animal state but their representations, i.e. the archetypal images, while having a primordial quality, are modified or altered according to the era in which they appear. Some, especially those indicative of an important change in psychic economy…Others present themselves as human or semi-human forms, gods and goddesses, dwarfs and giants, or they appear as real or fantastic animals and plants of which there are countless examples in mythology

    She also relates archetypes to dreams:

    Fordham: Jung holds dreams to be natural and spontaneous products of the psyche, worth taking seriously, and producing an effect of their own, even if this is neither realized nor understood. Dream language is symbolic and makes constant use of analogies, hence its frequently obscure or apparently meaningless character.

    What’s this got to do with King? Hold on, I’m getting there. Here’s Fordham again:

    Fordham: The existence of the collective unconscious can be inferred in the normal man from the obvious traces of mythological images in his dreams -- images of which he had no previous conscious knowledge. It is sometimes difficult to prove that no such knowledge ever existed (one can always say there was the possibility of cryptomnesia 15, but in certain kinds of mental disorder there is an astonishing development of mythological imagery which could never be accounted for by the individual's own experience.

    Hang in there, more to come.

    ChrisC

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  6. Continued from last post.

    Here’s the most important thing Jung said about Archetypes and the Imagination (Collective Unconscious) as summarized by Fordham:

    Fordham:
    “Jung has spent much time in studying myths, for he considers them to be fundamental expressions of human nature. When a myth is formed and expressed in words, consciousness, it is true, has shaped it, but the spirit of the myth -- the creative urge it represents, the feelings it expresses and evokes, and even in large part its subject-matter-- come from the collective unconscious. Myths, it is true, often seem like attempts to explain natural events, such as sunrise and sunset, or the coming of spring with all its new life and fertility, but in Jung's view they are far more than this, they are the expression of how man experiences these things. The rising of the sun then becomes the birth of the God-hero from the sea. He drives his chariot across the sky, and in the west a great mother dragon waits to devour him in the evening. In the belly of the dragon he travels the depths of the sea, and after a frightful combat with the serpent of the night he is born again in the morning. This is a mythical explanation of the physical process of the sun's rise and descent, but its emotional content makes it more than this. Primitive people do not differentiate sharply between themselves and their environment, they live in what Levy-Bruhl calls participation mystique, which means that what happens without also happens within, and vice versa. The myth therefore is an expression of what is happening in them as the sun rises, travels across the sky, and is lost to sight at nightfall, as well as the reflection and explanation of these events. 17

    Because myths are a direct expression of the collective unconscious, they are found in similar forms among all peoples and in all ages, and when man loses the capacity for myth-making, he loses touch with the creative forces of his being. Religion, poetry, folk-lore, and fairy-tales, depend also on this same capacity. The central figures in all religions are archetypal in character, but as in the myth, consciousness has had a share in shaping the material. In primitive cults this is much less than in the higher and more developed religions, so that their archetypal nature is clearer. The most direct expression of the collective unconscious is to be found when the archetypes, as primordial images, appear in dreams, unusual states of mind, or psychotic fantasies. These images seem then to possess a power and energy of their own -- they move and speak, they perceive and have purposes -- they fascinate us and drive us to action which is entirely against our conscious intention. They inspire both creation and destruction, a work of art or an outburst of mob frenzy, for they are 'the hidden treasure upon which mankind ever and anon has drawn, and from which it has raised up its gods and demons, and all those potent and mighty thoughts without which man ceases to be man'.18 The unconscious therefore, in Jung's view, is not merely a cellar where man dumps his rubbish, but the source of consciousness and of the creative…spirit of mankind.”

    More information can be found in Ms. Fordham’s invaluable book, and the best part is, there’s no need to order online, the whole thing can be found at this link: http://www.cgjungpage.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=852&Itemid=41

    Fine, all well and good, what the hell’s this got to do with King or Sleep?!

    I thought you’d never ask.

    To be continued.

    ChrisC

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  7. Okay, one final thing to note about archetypes before moving on.

    The point Jung stressed in all this is that the Collective Unconscious (Imagination) was a mental process that operates independent of conscious intent.

    In this case the artist has no control over the story that comes his way, though he can impose his will on the archetypes that bubble up from the depths, however he can only do so at the risk of losing the narrative thread, something King didn't do with the original Shining.

    In the original Shining, King let the archetypes talk, he had nothing to prove and only a story idea or archetype that had occured to him. Now here's something I should have mentioned, archetypes are also useful therapeutic tools in a way because they cast light on the state of mind of the artist.

    That is exactly what the Shining did with King, and the implications of this are what follows.

    To be Continued.

    ChrisC

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  8. Now, the whole key to Stephen King is his childhood, he's a latchkey kid. It was really his Dad who gave King his career. He's testified to this in the autobiographical pause in Danse Macabre. I believe there's more to it, I think by leaving Donald King deprived his wife and son of a normal sense of security and therefore left King a, let's say, rather frightened child.

    Here's from a helpful book I found called "Art and Play Therapy."

    Emery Gondor phd.: Sometimes it happens that the mother is not able to give the child the loving care which he needs. She may love her baby but be so emotionally upset over the circumstances and problems of her life that expression of that love is thwarted…These attitudes…the child will sense and respond to…Without a great deal of help, he may never achieve self-esteem, courage, and the ability to relate positively to others-as a result of experiences he cannot later remember, much less understand at the time.”

    Does any of this sound familiar in terms of King? Let me restate, while I believe that’s what happened in his case, you shouldn’t go hard on Nellie King.

    Here’s more from, um, the shrink with the funny name:

    Gondor: As the child grows older, it is less impossible but still very difficult to understand the reasons for what is going on around him. He cannot evaluate his experiences. He easily misinterprets, becomes confused, attains distorted views, and consequently reacts in a way that is harmful to him. He comes into conflict with his surroundings. Instead of receiving or feeling that he receives support from his family and environment, he may be subjected to a long series of frustrations…Such a child feels inferior, threatened, isolated, abandoned-and accordingly he will put up defenses to relate himself in some safer way to the outside world which to him seems dangerous and cold. His reaction to his inner feelings may be expressed as anxiety, withdrawal, desperation, rage, and organic disorders.”

    To be Continued.

    ChrisC

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  9. Continued from last post.

    Now you might reasonably ask, well, aren't you painting the picture more dire, let's say, than it really is?

    Well, it's a fair question but here's the thing, you got to explain the alcohol and drug abuse, and you can't just say oh well those it was just an accident. I don't think so.

    When it comes to abusers and losers it's always cause they got something in, a monkey on the back, and not just a monkey, "That was mean Baboon," as Eddie Dean said.

    In King's case that monkey was named Richard Bachman. I'm convinced Bachman represents all the bad vibes Steve King has ever had, it was Bachman that got him hooked on drugs and it was Bachman who in essence robbed King of his self-confidence a little in childhood and a great deal during the 80s when he was gulping and snorting almost everyday.

    Now if this in anyway sounds far fetched, well, it' all I got from reading On Writing and Danse Macabre.

    In the next post there will be a quote by King. See if it kind of helps demonstrate were 'm coming from.

    To be Continued.

    ChrisC

    ReplyDelete
  10. Continued from last post.

    Here's King on Bachman.

    Bachman was the vampirish side of my existence… I put Bachman aside, and although I was sorry that his cover had been blown and he had to die, I would be lying if I didn't say I felt some relief as well.

    One of his books, Rage, has been especially troublesome for Stephen King. It has been a factor in a number of nasty (and sometimes mortal) incidents in the real world, incidents in which disturbed teenage boys have held classmates and teachers hostage, have in some cases committed murder. How much responsibility does the author of a book bear when the book seems to form some part of the triggering mechanism for a psychotic or criminal interlude? I don't know. I've spent sleepless nights with the question, a lot of them, and I still don't know. Neither, apparently, does the FBI, who has queried me concerning the book. One psychologist associated with such a case stated that "this novel never walked into a classroom and shot anybody," and that is comforting, but one wonders - one has to wonder - if it is the whole truth. What gives me more comfort is the sure knowledge that the book was written with no bad intent, although it was written by a troubled eighteen year old boy-man who seems a stranger to me now; that boy-man was really neither King nor Bachman but a weird (an perhaps dangerous) hybrid of both.”

    Here's more.

    King: Like most people, I suspect, I have trouble remembering my teenage years - it's like trying to recall conversations you might have had while running a high fever - but one thing I do remember is that the fury and terror and jagged humor (not wit, the funny stuff in Rage is the furthest thing on earth from wit) found in that story had only one real purpose, and that was the purpose of all my early fiction: to save my life and sanity. What made me feel so crazy so much of the time back then? I don't know, Constant Reader, and that's the truth. My head felt like it was always on the verge of exploding, but I have forgotten why….The other books in this omnibus were written in much the same spirit as Rage, not as Bachman books per se (Bachman hadn't been invented yet, after all), but in a Bachman state of mind: low rage and simmering despair. Ben Richards, the scrawny, pre-tubercular protagonist of The Running Man (he is about as far from the Arnold Schwarzenegger character in the movie as you can get), crashes his hijacked plane into the Games Authority skyscraper, killing himself but taking hundreds (maybe thousands) of FreeVee executives with him; this is the Richard Bachman version of a happy ending. The conclusions of the other Bachman novels are even more grim. Stephen King has always understood that the good guys don't always win (see Cujo, Pet Sematary, and - perhaps - Christine), but he has also understood that mostly they do. Every day, in real life, the good guys win. Mostly these victories go unheralded (MAN ARRIVES HOME SAFE FROM WORK YET AGAIN wouldn't sell many papers); but they are nonetheless real for all that and fiction should reflect reality.

    There's more from King but I'll save it for another post.

    To be continued.

    ChrisC

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  11. Okay, here's the final quote from King on Bachman. There's still more to come though.

    King: In the first draft of The Dark Half, I had Thad Beaumont quote Donald E. Westlake, a very funny writer who has penned a series of very grim crime novels under the name Richard Stark. Once asked to explain the dichotomy between Westlake and Stark, Westlake said "I write Westlake stories on sunny days. When it rains. I'm Stark." I don't think that made it into the final version of The Dark Half, but I have always loved it (and related to it, as it has become fashionable to say). Bachman - a fictional creation who became more real to me with each published book which bore his byline - was a rainy - day sort of guy if ever there was one.

    The good folks mostly win, courage usually triumphs over fear, the family dog hardly ever contracts rabies; these are things I knew at twenty - five, and things I still know now, at the age (almost) of 25 x 2. But I know something else as well: there's a place in most of us where rain is pretty much constant, the shadows are always long, and the woods are full of monsters.

    I think for King, that spot became a probelm, especially as the Sixties rolled around and he got caught up in the paranoia of that decade, which just made things worse.

    Now we get down to busisness.

    To be Continued.

    ChrisC

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  12. Continued from last post.

    Jung said archetypes functioned independent of the individual mind, and that they act as therapeutic tools. What real archetypes do, in essence, is functions as mental mirrors in which the artist, or patient, sees his own situation reflected back at him in symbolic images.

    That's what was up with King during the Shining. Here I should note, Jung also gave names or labels to certain recurring motifs or character archetypes, i.e. the eternal child (Danny) the Mother (Wendy) The Shadow (Jack, Richard Bachman).

    Now if all this seems grim, I should point out that while King had addiction problems I also believe he sometimes, though not entirely, overdoes his own problems. That doesn't mean an addiction problem didn't exits though, get that straight.

    In On Writing King said: The part of me that writes the stories, the deep part that knew I was and alcoholic as early as 1975, when I wrote The Shining, wouldn't accept that. Silence isn't what that part is about. It began to scream for help in the only way it knew how, through my fiction and through my monsters."

    Hence, it utilizes the archetypes to create the Shining. We're entering the home stretch now. Up next a few parting thoughts.

    To be continued.

    ChrisC

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  13. Continued from previous posts.

    With all this said and done, I should point out that archetypes have many other functions than just therapy. Sometimes a story is just a story, sometimes they point to bigger issues as was the case with the Shining. Still, for all that, the book was a masterpiece fixed in stone that can't be altered.

    Why?

    Because of the basic nature of the archetypes involved. Among those I listed was the eternal child. This is an archetype King has returned to again and again in his fiction.

    Samantha Figliola has this to say about Danny as archetype from a book of essays called "Discovering Stephen King's The Shining" edited by Tony Magistrale: "Jung believed that images of children in dreams...fairy tales and art served to trigger "certain forgotten things in our childhood" in individuals, and deeply buried "pre-conscious memories in the collective psyche; this bridge between the child and adult, unconscious and conscious, opens the door to full human potential."

    To be concluded, with any hope.

    ChrisC

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  14. What all the above shows, I hope, is that Danny should rightly be considered alongside King's other child protagonists like Mark Petrie, David Carver and the Loser's Club from "It" (another book that does the same thing in the Shining by locating King's demons and helping to exorcise them, this time a on a much grander scale).

    Does this mean Danny is to always remain a child? By no means. I always felt the ending to the Shining was rushed and incomplete, and now I no why. It was because King hadn't yet gotten clean. The story needed the author to turn his life around before it could conclude properly.

    In 87 King finally kicked the habit, and years later in 97 (how's that for coincidence?) he finally finished the Shining in the form of, for better or worse, the miniseries script. There both child and adult were able to move on.

    Why do I believe Doctor Sleep is a bad idea? Because invention is one thing, and archetypal inspiration is another. archetypes like Danny Torrance were there to serve a function, in this case help a struggling writer with his alcohol and drug addiction.

    I should also point out, that if he hadn't had the accident, I don't believe King would have had the Sleep idea.

    Why?

    Well, I kind of think the accident might have semi-reawakened the Bachman part of his brain a bit. Not so much as last time, however like I said, with the frustrations of having to work at a slower pace and sometimes losing the narrative thread on stories like Duma Key and Under the Dome, I think those fumbles just sort of made him desperate to assure himself he has some kind of handle on things and he makes mistakes like "Sleep" as a result.

    I think he's still at the top of his game, he's just going to need to learn a lot more patients and not rush to judgement like he is now.

    Still, here's hoping for better times ahead.

    Was any of this helpful?

    ChrisC

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    1. Helpful in terms of assisting me to understand what you're talking about a bit better, yes. Helpful in terms of persuading me that you are correct...? No.

      Ultimately, it seems to me that what you're saying is that you know "The Shining" better than Stephen King knows "The Shining." I can't roll with that. I guess what I'm saying is that I reject what you're saying about inspiration. It seems to me that you're saying that inspiration can occasionally -- as in the case of "The Shining" -- be so complete that the author essentially ceases to be a factor; it's like he's is a conduit.

      I don't buy that. I'm willing to consider the possibility that it can occasionally be a process so clear and complete that it might SEEM a bit like the author becomes a conduit, but I don't think it ever crosses the line. I'd liken it a bit to driving a car; sometimes you go on a sort of auto-pilot, but whereas it may seem as if your reflexes are doing all the work, they aren't, not really -- they're just doing a bit more of them than normal.

      So it must be with writing. There is no such thing as pure inspiration; there is only invention that is working better than is normally the case.

      I continue to be convinced that if a sequel -- or a prequel, or whatever -- can alter one's perceptions about the original story, it is only by virtue of the sequel having a ring of truth to it. You mentioned the Star Wars prequels as an example of failures. I agree; they don't work particularly well, and as such, they don't really impact my perceptions of the original films. (Lucas's changes to the original films DO impact those perceptions, but that's another matter altogether.)

      So really, I still feel you're contradicting yourself a bit. Either "The Shining" is dealing in set-in-stone archetypes, or it isn't. If it is, then how can a sequel change them? If what you're saying is accurate, then it can't, and in that case, you'd have nothing to worry about, because "Doctor Sleep" would seem so illegitimate as to be practically unrelated.

      If it CAN change them, then surely that means the story and its characters still had room for development. In THAT case, then surely it would mean that there is a chance "Doctor Sleep" could be good. Right?

      I mean, look, you're not happy the sequel is happening; I get that, and I'm not trying to argue that you should be thrilled where you aren't. I'm just not convinced by your arguments. They're interesting; they're well-stated; they're thorough. But they don't sway me in the slightest.

      Of course, I agree with you that at the very least, this is a big risk for King to take. And it may not work.

      Then again, it might.

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    2. It's also worth mentioning that "The Shining" is hardly unique in King's canon. He's dealt with the theme of addiction numerous times, and he's also dealt with the responsibility of parent to child numerous times. If "The Shining" represents his drawing on archetypes in an attempt to work through some of those type problems, than shouldn't any other work he's done that goes down the same paths -- "Misery," for example, or "The Drawing of the three," or "Cujo," or "Pet Sematary" -- automatically be just as invalid as you feel "Doctor Sleep" will automatically be?

      If not, then isn't there a possibility that "Doctor Sleep" could end up being just as accomplished a work as any of those?

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  15. Thanks for the reply, and in particular for clarifying your stance on where stories come from. I might disagree but it nonetheless helps once you see where the other guy is coming from.

    As for the contradiction you mentioned, I think that is m y fault and I can point out why.

    The thing is I described a fiction as if it were a person, which is sort of a major contradiction in terms when you think about it. Arthur Conan Doyle sending a name on paper over the word waterfall and not a real one isn't going to change my life in the least.

    My reaction is pretty much the same as all those Sherlock Holmes fans when Doyle tried to end the series. It's also similar to Harlan Ellison when Gene Roddenberry tried to make him revise a story he wrote.

    I seem to be as much a victim of getting overly attached to a fiction for what the hell ever reason, it's probably not a good one, whatever it is. The thing is I'm not the only one, there are I don't know how many who treat stories as if they were people. King calls it "The Gotta" in "Misery." Oh well. In other words, it was a question of semantics. I still feel like a stories are archetypes and that they have an integrity all their own, and King himself believes he's really more just a cipher than anything else.

    I respectfully fall back on words of King's own, "You may choose to not believe me, that's alright. Just so long as you believe I believe it"...I might have paraphrased that last line a bit.

    ChrisC

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    1. That's a great quote from King!

      For the record, yes, I definitely believe you believe it, and while I have some fundamental disagreements with you, I totally get where you're coming from. And as I've said before, even if "Doctor Sleep" ends up being good, the odds of it being AS good as "The Shining" are quite poor. So ultimately, it is almost sure to be a relative disappointment.

      We'll all find out about a year from now.

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  16. I hope Simonson and King collaborate on something else! I had no idea this Bizarre Adventures existed, but that is fantastic.

    I kind of enjoy Return to Salem's Lot. It's probably the presence of Sam Fuller. It's by no means an objectively-good film, of course, but I've seen many less-entertaining films with better reputations. I always have a soft spot for any film that falls into this category.

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    1. I am bizarrely drawn to "A Return to Salem's Lot" as well, Bryan. I have a very odd soft spot for most of the King-related fauxquels like that (and the "Children of the Corn" series, and, especially -- WHY?!? -- the "Sometimes They Come Back" fauxquels).

      I'd known about that comic version of "The Lawnmower Man" for well over a decade, and it always bugged me to not have a copy. About a year ago, I found scans of it online and downloaded them, but that's no substitute for the real thing!

      In any case, it's been crossed off the list now, and I feel much better as a result.

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