The Chapel Perilous, a 1920 illustration by Thomas Mackenzie
By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
The discussion of Patty Hearst’s “responsibility” for her actions as Tania make think of comparing the novel The Shining by Stephen King with the film The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick. King has complained that in the film Jack seems firmly responsible for his actions, whereas in the novel the hotel seems at least in part responsible for his actions. One might model the Overlook Hotel as a model of Chapel Perilous, especially at the end of the film. In fact, various models of Chapel Perilous appear in Kubrick’s films, from the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the brainwashing scenes in A Clockwork Orange to basic training in Full Metal Jacket to Tom Cruise’s New York City wasteland quest in Eyes Wide Shut.
Apuleius Charlton pointed out that many of Jim Jones’s victims did not commit suicide; armed followers of Jones forced many of them to drink the poison. I remember seeing part of a TV movie about Jim Jones starring Powers Booth. I thought of that film when I saw Oliver Stone’s Nixon where Powers Booth played Alexander Haig and Bob Wilson’s beloved Anthony Hopkins played Nixon. I contemplated writing a book on the magic of casting called Casting Spells. The movie Nixon seemed rather sympathetic to the character Richard Nixon, but I kept thinking of Hannibal Lector in the back of my mind.
Bob writes of immortalism in this chapter. Someone once asked the physicist R. C. W. Ettinger why, if crygenics provided the chance of immortality, more people didn’t take advantage of it.
Ettinger said, “Many are cold, but few are frozen.”
Exercise 6 in this chapter says to become a Nazi for 33 minutes. I did this; I began by studying a bit of German on Duolingo. I had intended to watch a bit of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer I had DVR’d next, but my wife asked me to run an errand. I had a Sonny Rollins CD on in the car, and I found it distasteful in my Nazi head-space. I switched to the classical radio station and felt grateful that they had some German music playing (Mozart’s Thirtieth Symphony). I found it sobering how quickly this exercise affected my judgment.