Wednesday, November 30, 2022

We Are All Meant To Shine – The Philosophy of Doctor Sleep

Danny! Danny-boy! Daddy tried to kill me. It wasn’t all him, you gotta that. Place fed his dark like it fed on your light. And he had some light in him, too. Just like you got some dark. We all got both. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. .

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. This quote, which you might have heard inmotivational speeches, is often attributed to Nelson Mandela. However, it is actually a quote from MarianneWilliamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. And I think it’s also a fitting articulationof the main conflict in Doctor Sleep, that being; the struggle between light and dark, both in the world around us, as well as inside ourselves. .

I don’t know about magic. I always called it the shining. For Williamson, this shining light is the light of God, a token of a divine presence within us. In Doctor Sleep, it is presented as a supernatural quality, manifesting itself in superhuman abilities, as well as in smaller, intuitive sensitivities that make people excel in their talents and let them connect closer to others. There’s a lot of people who have a littlebit of shine, they don’t even know it. Watch this kid, number 19. .

That kid is a natural. He hits the ball every time, like he can readthe pitcher’s mind. And sometimes I get this feeling about people. Hard to understand, I guess. Easier than you think. In more general terms, I think we can seeit as the full expression of our inner self; of our passion, our hopes, and dreams. It’s the true version of who we are, or rather; of who we want to be. It’s also who we so often are afraid to be. The part of us that we keep to ourselves,that we hide from others. .

Guess I’m running away from myself I guess. Running away from yourself that is a pickle,you take yourself with you wherever you go. As we are once again introduced to Danny Torrance, who is now an adult struggling with the trauma he experienced as a child, and battling the same demons that his father did, we can begin to understand why it is that we are so afraid to shine. The film shows that despite being born witha certain potential, a shining, we do not enter this world in a vacuum, we do not grow up without constraints. As Marianne Williamson put it; .

Love is what we were born with.Fear is what we have learned here. A reviewer from the Hollywood Reporter alsodescribed it really well as he wrote that, much like Mike Flanagan’s other films thatuse horror to explore complicated subjects like trauma, addiction, and grief, Doctor Sleep too is about how the things passed down to us — possessions, homes, sickness, disabilities,faith and family — shape us and hurt us. Dan’s way of coping is to lock the bad thingsaway in boxes inside his mind, which seems effective, but hasn’t quite resolved his inner conflict. Repression, after all, is not the same as reconciliation. .

This is especially true for his biggest ghost,his father, who demonstrates how, in a way, we can become attached to the darkness within us, as it might be the only real connection we have to those closest to us. He died when I was five, so the only way Igot to know him, really got to know him, was… when I went dark. When I… When I drank to dull the… ‘cause the drinking and the temper and the anger, those things in me were his. And they were all I could know of him. Over time however, and with the help of hisfriend and sponsor, Dan does manage to get sober and find some sense of peace and quiet in his life. .

He becomes a caretaker in a hospice where he uses a little bit of his shining to comfort dying patients. Doc, I am so scared it’s gonna hurt, or be dark, or, or be nothing at all. And I don’t wanna… Nothing to be scared of. Just going to sleep. Finally, true, restful sleep. But despite having found some purpose andstability, he is still in hiding. His childhood trauma is still locked awayin boxes, where it remains unresolved. Just like how the fullness of his shiningis still restrained by self-imposed limitations. You can hear me. .

Let’s use our outside voices all right? It is why, when he crosses paths with Abra,a young girl who also shines, he urges her to do the same. Don’t shine. Find something, anything, well, almost anything,to stop that shine of yours. And, to some extent, he has a point. For besides the demons that Dan has been strugglingwith, the darkness that he knows, there is a lot more out there that he doesn’t know about. Other demons that make the world a dangerous place for people who shine. .

World’s a hungry place. And the darkest things are the hungriest,and they’ll eat what shines. Swarm it like mosquitoes or leeches. It’s the special ones that taste best. You are a special little thing, aren’t you? In the opening scene, we are introduced tothe film’s antagonists; a group of vampire-like beings known as the True Knot. Led by a woman named Rose The Hat, this groupseeks out special children, children who shine. And kidnap them to consume their steam; the essence of their shining, .

Which they use to prolong their own lives. Are you gonna hurt me? Yes. Pain purifies steam. Fear too, so, you understand. The slow and agonizing method through which children are tortured and killed seems needlessly cruel, but I think it serves to make a largerstatement about the way in which children, especially talented ones, often end up beingabused by the world around them; by parents, coaches, or agents, who, purposefully or inadvertently, exploit them for their own gain, .

Who drain their essence in a process that can take years and years before the child in question reaches a breaking point, or worse. See? You watch, one of these days, one of those talent scouts is gonna get wind of Brad there. You watch. Sensing the strong shine present in Abra,Rose and her group set their sights on the young girl. But as they underestimate Abra’s cleverness,and their hunt stumbles, we also learn that they have a weakness. I thought we lived forever. Did someone promise you that, Andi? Did someone say you’re immortal? .

I said ‘eat well, live long,’ we haven’t been eating well. Not for a long time. While the consumption of steam prolongs their life, and has done so for incredible amounts of time, the darkly beings are not immortal. In fact, they are, perhaps more so than anyoneelse, terrified of dying. It gives us a better understanding of thelarger obsession with youthfulness and its subsequent regressive behavior as a sort ofreflex against the fear of death, the fear of time running out. It also forms an interesting contrast withour protagonist, because if we see Dan as a representation of the hurt we do to ourselves when we’re afraid of the light, .

Then Rose can be seen as a representation of the hurtwe do to others when we’re afraid of the dark. In this sense, Abra, who stands up against Rose and forms an alliance with Dan, becomes a catalyst who drives both characters outof their respective bubbles, and forces them to confront their deepest fears. I’m here because it all comes ‘round. Ka’s a wheel, Doc. The fight that follows eventually brings usback to the Overlook Hotel, where Dan finally faces the true source of his trauma, and is tempted one last time to hide away from the light. .

Medicine. Medicine is what it is. Bona fide cure-all. Depression, stress, remorse, failure, wipes it all away. The mind is a blackboard. And this, is the eraser. So tell me pup, are you gonna take your medicine? I'm not. .

Fortunately, Dan succeeds where his father failed, and he is ready to face Rose. Go. It is here that Dan finally releases the darknessthat was locked away in his mind, an act which, while successful in defeating Rose, also damages himself. Again, it’s a sequence that I think servesto make a larger statement, as it shows how the act of confronting our demons can be dangerous and painful, and should not be taken lightly. Why are you smiling? Because you don't know where you're standing. .

But then again, it’s also an act of tremendous bravery. In the words of Marianne Williamson; It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. In the end, after having struggled with his own ghosts for so long, Dan himself becomes a ghost to someone else, turning the ending of one storyinto the beginning of another. One with the promise of light, where once there was dark. We go on after. .

We go on. And he’s okay. And so, ultimately, Doctor Sleep is a tale about life, death, and our relation to both. It’s a story about the light and the dark,one belongs to us, the other does not, leaving us to perform a balancing act, in the hopethat, as Dan’s support group phrased it, we can find the serenity to accept the thingswe cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This, I think, is perhaps the film’s mostfundamental message. .

We do not chose to be born, or to whom. We cannot change the things that are passed down to us, the things that hurt us, that haunt us. But we can change ourselves, we can choose to shine, or at the very least, to make the effort. Because as Dan realizes at the end, we’re not alone in this. The world’s a hungry place. A dark place. Maybe there’s more of them or things likethem or worse, but… .

There are more people like you too. People who stand. Ultimately, as the closing shot of the film suggests; we do have to find our own way to cope with darkness, but when we can rely on each other, it becomes much easier to take that first step into the light. I told you when I first met you, I told youthat you should hide. That you should keep your head down. Keep your shine out of sight. .

But I was wrong. Even then, we may feel scared, we may evenfeel like we don’t deserve it. We ask ourselves, as Marianne Williamson posed it; 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Perhaps it really is our light, not our darknessthat most frightens us. But for Williamson, the answer was simple: Actually – she wrote – who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinkingso that other people won't feel insecure around you. .

We are all meant to shine, as children do. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciouslygive other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Shine on, Abra Stone. You shine on. As a sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep facedquite a challenge. Having to serve both the fans of Stephen King’s original novel, as well as those of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation; a film that diverged significantly from the source material, .

It had to find a way to balance these competinglegacies, and tell a story that also stands on its own. The original novel for example had a muchstronger focus on Jack’s alcoholism, and is generally seen as more emotionally resonantthan Kubrick’s colder approach to the story. But, if you want to judge that for yourself; I highly recommend you check out Stephen King’s The Shining on Audible, the world’s largest audiobook service. With the Audible app, you can listen to audiobooksanytime, anywhere, and on any device. And if you go to Audible.com/likestoriesofold,or text likestoriesofold to 500 500, you can do so as well with a 30-day Audible trialthat let’s you listen to one audiobook, .

And 2 Audible Originals, for free. So if you want to dive deeper into the workof Stephen King, or perhaps listen to Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, or simply explore Audible’s vast collection of audiobooks, be sure to check out Audible.com/likestoriesofold,or text likestoriesofold to 500 500, and start listening today.

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