Category: writing

more on Stephen King’s muse

by Andrea Elizabeth

He’s a taskmaster with a whip. That’s how SK keeps his crazy work ethic, which includes writing on Christmas. I guess I should give Johnny a whip. No. I need to keep things nice between us. I can whip myself when I’m convinced I need it. Maybe I can talk to him about it. Sometimes, especially after a day like yesterday, I’m too tired. I usually write when my ducks are in a row and I can relax. Should I write when my brain’s in a frenzy and add to the multitasking? Why not? Doesn’t stressed writing stress others? Sometimes I wish SK would take a break and not make things quite so terrible. I’m about to give up on Lisey’s Story because, one, I don’t think her dead husband was as great as she does. He seems kind of creepy and possessive and didn’t want to share her by having children. He’s charming and drags her through his dysfunction. And the bad guy is too sadistic. There’s a line between legitimate bad guys doing bad things that provoke resistance, and a feeling that the author, and maybe the audience, enjoys torture too much. Mel Gibson is also sadistic, imo.

Salem’s Lot was better, but the love story, meaning the female character, is a little simplistic and stereotypical. Same with 11-22-63, but the other plot is worth it. So far I think The Shining is by far his best. Very realistic relationships, meaning the female character. I guess it’s because it was closer to home for him, being raised by a single mother, and he’s not trying to write an ideal relationship. And maybe he was more relaxed when he wrote it after the success of Carrie and Salem’s Lot. After that, the taskmaster got to work.

Oh, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was very good. Again a realistic female who isn’t an ideal romantic lead.


Happy New Year

by Andrea Elizabeth

In keeping with my New Years Resolution explained above, I will endeavor to not waste as much time not writing, for one thing. I will take the opportunity now as I elevate my swollen travel ankles. I need to get some circulation socks I guess.

So many thoughts spurred by the road trip where three of my children and I went to see our newborn granddaughter/niece. Thoughts about family, technology, idealism, feminism, humility, philosophy, psychological trauma, idolatry, ambivalence, beauty, and nature. I could list details about each one, but their numerousness makes me want to find unity instead. To unscatter them. That would be the Jesus Prayer. This seems a copout, but I guess since the working conversation was already had, the solution seems more important. Oh, another theme was universalism, which is a similar solution to the Jesus Prayer. We started The Chimes by Charles Dickens, who was a universalist, and in it I could hear what I have termed on this blog, Respectivism. I believe in respectivism, but I am not a respectivist. I have too much contempt. Contempt is a defense mechanism against disappointment, hurt feelings, and fear. Respectivism is regarding everyone as precious. Dickens, and United Kingdomites in general, have uniquely precious ways of speaking as you can hear in George Cole’s narration of The Chimes. There is a warmth there that it seems Americans don’t naturally have.

In my ancestry studies I found a lot of Scandanavian, and Norman influence in England’s way back times, but even though these invaders sought to take over the lineages, the Island’s warm Celtic, or was it St. Columba’s? charm survived. You can hear a dutch influence in the Scottish accent, for example, but the temperature between the two is opposite.

Apparently I have analytical edginess that doesn’t come across very warm. This feedback surprises me because what I most feel is bondedness to my children. There is a lot of fear and problem attacking that I don’t realize can be louder.

Back to lineages. The Puritans don’t seem the warmest lot, and they were English. Luther’s influence? He was a contemptivist for sure. I refer to the video in the post previous.

Stephen King’s poetical side

by Andrea Elizabeth

From the end of The Shining which turns out surprisingly different than the movie.

“Beyond, the lake widened out, mirroring the pines along its verge. The terrain was mountainous around here, but the mountains were old, rounded and humbled by time. [He] liked them just fine.” [western Maine, compared to Colorado]

after 11-22-63

by Andrea Elizabeth

I just finished listening to 11-23-66 (serendipitously while they are filming it in Dallas) and King’s personally recorded afterward while cross-stitching my header picture. Two things. Interesting ideas of free will and destiny are explored. I agree with most of them but would add that while it may be best to keep the demons you know rather than the ones you don’t, I’ll not definitively say that if I had known other demons first they wouldn’t have been better.

Second, I’m glad he addressed criticisms that he was too hard on Dallas. I am concurrently reading The Shining on ibooks when I have my hands free. I was attributing the difference in style as being due to the time lapse between his third book written in 1977 and his 47th book written in 2011. The only other King books I’ve read are The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and On Writing. I was engrossed in the content of those two at the time and didn’t pay much attention to style. But the styles of these two are completely different. The Shining is more poetically and gently written despite the scary and suspenseful gruesomeness. I also think the characters are more realistic as to motive and action. In 11-22-63, the characters are more idealistically written with a confident he is doing right hero and the dainty yet spunky heroine. The art in 11-22-63 is in the complexity of time travel and details of history and early ’60’s speech, especially the DJ speak. But the prose is very stark and unadorned compared to The Shining. King lived in Colorado briefly, probably because he thought it was beautiful but isolated. He seems to have dutifully visited Dallas for no other reason than to explore where a very traumatic event occurred. He says in the afterward that he has very hard feelings about Dallas. How can one wax poetic when one deeply resents what occurred in that setting? It seems he doesn’t have any other point of reference except that one. I agree there are seedy places in Dallas and Ft. Worth, but most of us don’t dwell there and have other impressions of the two cities. He probably also justifies his critique by being critical of Derry, which is Bangor, as well. I don’t doubt it also has a seedy side, but isn’t that the nature of big cities in general? Seedy people like close quarters apparently, so they go there. Bangor is a beautiful city with some of the most interesting architecture I’ve seen. Is there a big cloud of not rightness that dominates any city in particular? Maybe Sodom and Gomorrah, but other than that I don’t think so. There’s good and bad everywhere. I don’t like Dallas because of the traffic and flatness and starkness, but there’s some nice spots like Highland Park, Turtle Creek, and The House of Blues where I saw David Garret in concert. It is horrible that racism holds on so strongly in some southern places, but I wish the north didn’t paint us all that color. Or consider those who aren’t the exception to the rule like King seems to.

should we go there?

by Andrea Elizabeth

I saw this quote on Facebook, and it’s got me thinking:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” ― Franz Kafka

On one hand I say no, what about beauty? What about ‘whatever is good, of just repute, etc, think on these things?’

But is insulating ourselves completely from disturbing things not escapist? What about people who have been through horrendous things and need to tell their story? One reason I’m not completely against profanity – though I don’t use it – is that it does seem to sometimes cut through the fat and get deeper in the heart. That’s how Stephen King uses it, I think. What if beauty is coming through on the other side of difficult things, not unscathed, but more able to see shades of light after becoming more acquainted with shades of darkness? To proceed from naive to knowing and remain innocent. Somehow. I’m sure it’s hard to do.

Why women don’t like Kierkegaard

by Andrea Elizabeth

Inspired by yesterday’s article, this morning I again, after a long hiatus, picked up Either/Or Part II. Part I was from the point of view of the aesthete, and Part II is from the point of view of the ethicist. Aesthetics by nature are more interesting than ethics. Do is more interesting than don’t. Do opens the realms of possibilities, don’t closes the door. This is probably why Part I is a lot thicker than Part II. I think I must have quit reading after this: “but there is one thing for which I thank God with my whole soul, and that is that she is the only I have ever loved, the first, and there is one thing for which I pray to God with my whole heart, that he will give me the strength never to want o love any other.” (page 9)

To all who find themselves in this ideal arrangement, good for you. Preach on against those of us who did not. Club us over the head for our instability, recklessness, waywardness, dangerousness, immorality, and deservedness of being shunned. There, that was a self-indulgent pity party.

The third reason I’ve put this book at arms’ length is that Kierkegaard was never married. He courted Regina for four years, finally proposed, then dropped her immediately after she accepted. How can he preach about marriage?

But, he is a complicated fellow and deserves more query. Maybe he’s chastising himself as the aesthete? Maybe Part I is his loving himself and Part II is his hating himself? If that’s so, I can be more sympathetic. But this goal, “But now to the subject. There are two things that I must regard as my particular task: to show the esthetic meaning of marriage and to show how the esthetic in it may be retained despite life’s numerous hindrances.” (page 8) Have your cake and eat it too? Sounds like a women’s magazine cover article on keeping your marriage sparkly. So did he break off his own engagement because he didn’t think the aesthetic immediacy of attraction could really be retained? Was this next part himself?:

“You, however, actually live by plundering; unnoticed, you creep up on people, steal from them their happy moment, their most beautiful moment, stick this shadow picture in your pocket as the tall man did in Schlemiel and take it out whenever you wish. You no doubt say that those involved lose nothing by this, that often they themselves perhaps do not know which is their most beautiful moment. You believe that they should rather be indebted to you , because with your study of lighting, which magic formulas, you permitted them to stand forth transfigured in the supernatural amplitude of the rare moments…. If one dared to hope that the energy that kindles you in such moments could take shape in you, distribute itself coherently over your life, well, then something great would certainly come of you , for you yourself are transfigured in such moments.” (page 10-11)

My current theory is that Kierkegaard did try to sustain the transfigured energy – but he chose to do it through philosophical writing, not marriage. I don’t think he liked the physical as much as the intellectual, thus his decision not to marry her, but to devote himself to his work. But he did have an emotional bond to her, which he found that he could sustain without marriage. He believed in constant transfiguration, and for a while had the patience for it. But eventually he fulfilled this prophecy, “you who once wrote to me that patience to bear life’s burdens must indeed be an extraordinary virtue, that you did not even have the patience to want to live. Your life disintegrates into nothing but interesting details like these.” And this is why he died so young after getting more and more negative. Why do the brightest lights die so young? I do like Kierkegaard.


plugging away

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m getting a little bogged down in the middle of 11-22-63 by Stephen King. I guess a lot of the stuff in the fictional small Texas town of Jodie was character development and exploring what it would be like to go back in time in general. Now I suppose he’s building up a character sketches of Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald by spying on them Rear Window style. I have more pithy preferences, but his sketch of the mechanics of domestic abuse is insightful. King’s a pretty good psychologist.

I read somewhere that King really likes American language. Maybe that’s why I feel a little bogged down. I find American language very utilitarian, so I expect efficiency in story telling. I prefer the British use of English, and so when Dickens rambles I find it more artistic. King uses profanity for color, which is efficiently American I guess. Still, his books are just as companionable somehow. Before you say he’s too off-putting in his grittiness, I’ll say Dickens can be off-putting too in his.


11-23-63 timey wimeyness

by Andrea Elizabeth

On going back in time to change things:

“Did I know what he was going to say next? No. I’m not that prescient. Was I surprised? No again. Because the past isn’t just obdurate; it’s in harmony with both itself and the future.”

– Stephen King

by Andrea Elizabeth

On ne peut penser et ecrire qu’ assis [One cannot think and write except when seated](G. Flaubert). There have I got you, nihilist! Sedentary application is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts won by walking are valuable.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Can brains save you?

by Andrea Elizabeth

“[Cabin fever] is a slang term for the claustrophobic reaction that can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time. The feeling of claustrophobia is externalized as dislike for the people you happen to be shut in with. In extreme cases it can result in hallucinations and violence—murder has been done over such minor things as a burned meal or an argument about whose turn it is to do the dishes.
[…]“He killed them, Mr. Torrance, and then committed suicide. He murdered the little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way. His leg was broken. Undoubtedly so drunk he fell downstairs.”
“Was he a high school graduate?”
“As a matter of fact, he wasn’t,” Ullman said a little stiffly. “I thought a, shall we say, less imaginative individual would be less susceptible to the rigors, the loneliness—”
“That was your mistake,” Jack said. “A stupid man is more prone to cabin fever just as he’s more prone to shoot someone over a card game or commit a spur-of-the-moment robbery. He gets bored. When the snow comes, there’s nothing to do but watch TV or play solitaire and cheat when he can’t get all the aces out. Nothing to do but bitch at his wife and nag at the kids and drink. It gets hard to sleep because there’s nothing to hear. So he drinks himself to sleep and wakes up with a hangover. He gets edgy. And maybe the telephone goes out and the TV aerial blows down and there’s nothing to do but think and cheat at solitaire and get edgier and edgier. Finally … boom, boom, boom.”
“Whereas a more educated man, such as yourself?”
“My wife and I both like to read. I have a play to work on, as Al Shockley probably told you. Danny has his puzzles, his coloring books, and his crystal radio. I plan to teach him to read, and I also want to teach him to snowshoe. Wendy would like to learn how, too. Oh yes, I think we can keep busy and out of each other’s hair if the TV goes on the fritz.” He paused. “And Al was telling the truth when he told you I no longer drink. I did once, and it got to be serious. But I haven’t had so much as a glass of beer in the last fourteen months. I don’t intend to bring any alcohol up here, and I don’t think there will be an opportunity to get any after the snow flies.” (Excerpt From: King, Stephen. “The Shining.” Anchor Books, 2013-08-27. iBooks.)

We’ll see.