Sunday, January 25, 2015


The least we can say is that Stephen King wants to leave in style!


Stephen King is settling some accounts with life and death in his latest novel to date. Why is death so pregnant when you come closer to it at the end of your life? Fearful angst or mesmerized desire? What makes it so urgent to know what is beyond death, on the other side of death, after death? Who is the Mother that reigns on that other side of the light of life? Stephen King seems to be carried away from life by both the coming of his own death and the fad of supernatural phenomena as cultivated by some TV series (note how the main character and his brother Con are like Sam and Dean in one of these series)? He is rewriting the same logic as the one he is right now constructing in his TV series “Under the Dome” witjh Stephen Spielberg, in contradiction with the eponymous book: When you are doomed to die under the dome of your own life that is lethal anyway since it will lead to death, you can only wonder where the passage is, where the door is, and what is on the other side of that door and at the end of this passage. Welcome home anyway!

Feel welcomed then in this book that is the story of survival in front of the revival of the dead that become lethal against your vital instinct. As for that, without spoiling the image, let’s say that Mother Death is not quite as attractive as you may or might have thought. In fact she is quite a faceless monster, or rather a monster whose face you do not want to see or describe. And do not forget she will necessarily be the incarnation – strange for the embodiment of death – of your own mother, your own fears, your own angst and other perverse desires you carry in your mind, in your body, and particularly in your pants (Stephen King is addressing a male audience). That mother is definitely your great sexual desire. How can you desire to make love with that Mother Death? That’s beyond me but that’s what this book is constantly hinting at. Even when the main character is dreaming of the woman who initiated him to sex, of making love with her cadaver, which expresses at the same time the fact that she had turned lesbian after her quite heterosexual marriage. In his old age Stephen King is expressing his sexual frustration(s) more than ever.

In the same way he has to have a gay couple and yet he cannot resist the need to debunk and bash this couple, at least the younger lover of the brother of the main character, described twice as a social climber and a freewheeler sucking the juices (including monetary) of the older lover till this latter becomes deranged and is rejected like a dirty washrag by the said younger lover. You cannot really eradicate the deep anti-gay feelings of people in a certain generation, mostly because they feel menaced by gays who more or less revive the desires they have managed to keep underground for quite a long time. Can you imagine if Stephen King turned gay in his old age? At least that’s his deepest fear, so deep that he cannot manage not to mention his heterosexuality in the final author’s note when declaring his love for his wife Tabitha. In the old days, like in “It,” he only reveled in describing some gay bashing episodes and we can understand now that it was not really any support to the bashed gays, but rather the expression of his fear in front of these gays, so let them be bashed and they were bashed.

Now, apart from these two obvious personal dimensions of the book, what is that novel bringing up and what questions does it really explore?

The first one is the meaning of life captured from the age of three or four to the age of more than sixty-five in one character: the life of that main character who is telling the story in the first person, and we will learn later on that it is the recording of the story the way he told it to his psychoanalyst in fifty minute slices twice every week. That life was dedicated to music, as a rhythm man in some rock bands for a long while that ended up in the full addiction to heroin that could have killed him if he had not been revived by some preaching scumbag who had been his first adult friend at the very beginning as a Methodist pastor, preacher, priest, parson, or whatever word you want to use. Then he has a second career as a recording studio manager with another revived character of this scumbag of a Christian revivalist. And it will end very badly for that scumbag who managed to bring with his own death the destruction of thousands of people he had revived each one dragging into death a loved one. What a strange cliché: the revivalist is the heart or the nodal point of the network of the revived beneficiaries and/or victims of his own reviving predication. I have seen that somewhere else with vampires for example: destroy the father of a family of vampires and the whole family is destroyed.

The originality is the wrapping up of this revivalist in some real religious garb as a Methodist preacher first and then later as a perambulating and travelling predicator who is reviving sick people in his revival meetings. And yet it is clear that he does not believe in that Christian fake discourse that he only uses to attract the suckers and the fools who are ready to accept anything provided it alleviates their pain. Here Stephen King settles accounts with religion. Nothing new, since his first novel, Carrie, was already showing how a terroristic and perversely possessive mother was also a Christian fundamentalist. Nothing new under the sun, or here rather under the thunder storm! In the same way it is not surprising that the Mother here is Death, and that the predicator is a man because that last characteristic was used over and over again in Stephen King’s novels to identify false prophets, fake preachers, perverse men of God who systematically take/took advantage of dependent or helpless boys or teenagers, just as much, though rather in their pants, as the violent hooligans who beat them up for the pleasure of beating them up because they are bullies. This predicator is thus a religious bully like all religious fundamentalists and maybe like all religious professionals who consider the pulpit as a way to survive in this world by preaching the revival of the crucified one in the Eucharist.

But this novel goes maybe one step further in the new phase Stephen King is now experiencing.

There is no real horror, no real gore in 95% of this book, the very first 93% and the final 2%. The novel is a realistic description of the life of a real man with a real family, etc. That realistic dimension is the main characteristic of the last four or five novels. No super-flu, no dark tower nowhere, just a plain real life of a plain real middle-of-the-way man. The suspense comes from the preacher turned revivalist, after trying his hands at entertaining acts in funfairs, country or state fairs, and various amusement or theme parks. He is a mad scientist who is trying to capture the secret electricity which is the deep energy that is embedded in all matter since matter is energy as Einstein has decreed, maybe along with science. Not so clear though since electricity is small particles that are positive and are running along wires. This energy is matter too. That mad scientist who is also disguised as a preacher is so madly misguided that he actually heals very sick people only to be able one day to open the door to death and watch what is behind. And yet Stephen King treats that folly as the result of a real Trauma. In other words that poor preacher turned a devilish mad scientist is a typical case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, PTSS in one acronym. And there again we are dealing with something logical. That man is nothing but deranged, or should I say corrugated to the extreme.

He lost his wife and son in a deadly car accident. He wants to know where they are after death. Hence he wants to know what is after death and he is going to use his obsessive scientific knowledge about electricity to open that door, provided he finds the keys, because he needs two at the same time (like in a bank for a safety deposit box) and they have to be human. All that is logical my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes, or should I say Chief Inspector, as Poirot used to say?

But that’s where that new style hurts in this particular novel. There is absolutely no human empathy for anyone, even, the main character who is doomed to get crazy like his brother since he has been cured of his heroin addiction by this predicator just the same way his brother was cured of the loss of his voice after a ski accident. Everyone, absolutely everyone in this new Stephen King is worth no empathy, sympathy or compassion because they are all evil or doomed to turn evil at one point in the story or in the future. How can he have turned so desperately pessimistic about humanity? Even in Carrie there was maybe some hope for that girl once she had killed her mother, hope for her in herself, recapturing her sanity, even if she was doomed for society. She would at least die on the electric chair absolutely sane and healed from the terroristic fundamentalism of her own mother, though not of the terroristic executing furor of society. Here absolutely nothing. The picture has become so dark you need to take an electric generator along if you want to enter that world. Electricity is secret, which means it is as pitch black as a starless moonless night and generating no light.



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