The Shining (1980) – Esoteric Analysis

Original film poster.

Original film poster.

By: Jay Dyer

“Down the years, he had a phrase that he repeated like a personal mantra to hold at bay anyone who pressed him too closely about the “meaning” of his work, or his own “intentions.”  It came from an essay by H.P. Lovecraft, like Stephen King a popular manipulator of the occult: “In all things that are mysterious-never explain.”  The edict applies to Kubrick’s own work, but even more to himself.”  Stanley Kubrick, Director by: Walker, Taylor and Ruchti, pg. 274

Generally considered one of the best horror films of all time, the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the Stephen King story The Shining, is not lacking in interpretive creativity on the part of critics and analysts.  Freudian psychoanalysis combined with esoteric speculation generally garner much of the review space, but in my estimation the Shining is about something much more obvious, yet obscure.  I believe the film adaptation is intended to convey the same message as King’s, and that is demonic possession.  Not merely possession of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), but of the spectral haunting of America itself, in terms of its dark past in relation to the Native Americans.  Indigenous animistic spiritualism undergirds the film, manifesting in a kind of generational curse upon Jack, as we will see.

Initially, the camera perspective appears to fly in from an aerial vantage, as if it were the view of a spirit or demon.  From the camera’s vantage we also see a lake with and “as above, so below” reflection of a lonely islet in the midst of vast mountains.  Signifying isolation, Jacks desire to be rid of his family is reflected in nature, but as we will see, mirrors and reflections will be displayed prominently in the film to convey reality behind the veil, in the spiritual realm.

As above, so below - the mirror of two worlds.

As above, so below – the mirror of two worlds.

Hovering then over the mountains, we eventually see Jack driving towards the ominous Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Built in 1907, the site was chosen for its seclusion and scenic beauty, yet there is a darker side to this locale: It seems to draw dark forces into its midst.  While the hotel is “real,” we will discover in Jack’s mind it begins to take on an other-worldly, almost portal aspect.  Jack has in fact chosen this location purposefully because the “writing” of the story is not his novel, but his gruesome reenactment of spiritual sacrifice that is required for his entrance into the hall of fame – the abode of the “beautiful people.”

the-shining-ullman

All-American Manager Ullman, facilitator of whores, orgies and abuse.

The interview scene conveys this overtly Americana façade that clues the viewer into the dual symbology of the film, where the Overlook is both Jack’s degenerating psyche and a microcosm of the United States.  With a friendly, charming veneer, the baby boomer generation has a dark side that is portrayed both figuratively and literally in Jack’s brutality and the mystic locale of the Overlook.  In this sense, America is not baseball and apple pie, and Manager Ullman’s JFK-esque appearance masks his own potential to actually be nefarious, while surrounded by icons of Americana, from flags to paintings to Native American artworks.

Jack's homosexual and incestuous tendencies. Credit to Rob Ager.

Jack’s homosexual and incestuous tendencies. Credit to Rob Ager.

It is here that Jack divulges his desire for solitude and isolation, suggesting the non-interventionist policies of pre-New Freedom Initiative America.  It is also worth noting that the photos in Ullman’s office appear to be the same images that will conclude the film (as will be shown below).  Ullman reveals to Jack the history of the caretakers involved  a previous mass murder, where “cabin fever” resulted in an instance of madness.  Danny, we begin to learn, has a special talent by which he can presage the future, which is the film’s title, “shining.”  Walker, Taylor and Ruchti explain, highlighting my point about animism and Native American traditions:

“Carothers [Dick Halloran] is a great casting success.  His talent for ‘shining” springs from the animism associated with blacks, but Carothers’ features, ancient and weathered like an Easter Island monument, also lend the story more gravitas. He’s the hero, although a sacrificial hero.”

Jack explained to Ullman his wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) is a “confirmed ghost story and horror film fanatic,” but as we see from the imagery in the Torrance apartment, Wendy actually shares an interest in the occult, including numerous books on witchcraft, as well as the notorious Catcher in the Rye.  Because Jack has come to despise his family, whom he thinks are holding him back from greatness, it will come into his mind (through the suggestion of the demonic) to create a real horror for Wendy.

"Ghost and horror fanatic" Wendy's books also include "The Magic Circle" and "The Mother Goddess."

“Ghost and horror fanatic” Wendy’s books also include “The Magic Circle” and “The Mother Goddess.”

Danny experiences a supernatural premonition and blackout at this point, knowing they are destined to undergo the Overlook ordeal.  We begin to suspect Danny has been abused as his alternate persona appears to be a spirit named “Tony,” who lives in Danny’s mouth and stomach. In my opinion, the usage of inverted stars here is intentional, as we later discover Jack has physically and sexually assaulted Danny (resulting in his traumatic break and “Tony”).  Interestingly, in accounts of spiritual possession, there are instances of spirits inhabiting certain areas of the body in precisely this way.

If you like this analysis, pre-order my book Esoteric Hollywood by clicking this image!

If you like this analysis, pre-order my book Esoteric Hollywood by clicking this image!

Indeed, as Rob Ager has correctly elucidated, the abuse appears to be generational, and intergenerational conflict and Freudian/Oedipal envy (Jack resents Danny) will occupy much of this story. Ager is also correct in his insights concerning the cartoon programming Danny has apparently received, as Jack will become the “Big Bad Wolf,” utilizing the Disney and nursery rhyme mantras during his psychosis.  This is also why cartoons are consistently playing and seen throughout the film, including numerous references to fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and classical works of mythology with Theseus and the labyrinth’s minotaur.

Nihilistic favorite of so-called assassins and killers, Catcher in the Rye.

Nihilistic favorite of so-called assassins and killers, Catcher in the Rye.

Ager is also perceptive to connect the old hag in the bath tub to the classical notion of the seductive nymphs or sirens that turn into hags or cause sailors to crash upon the rocks. Looking over the books visible in Wendy’s living room, we can see an interest in witchcraft in The Magic Circle (or is Jack the witch?) and Mother Goddess, as the counselor learns Jack dislocated Danny’s shoulder in a drunken rage. Wendy, however, is partly to blame in this, as she is willing to let this trauma go on Jack’s good word. Recall as well the “magic circle” also appears in Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut – in fact, is appears Danny has arranged his Disney and cartoon stickers in a kind of magic circle on his door.

Danny's magic circle of stickers.

Danny’s magic circle of stickers.

Concerning the Minotaur, Walker, Taylor and Ruchti note:

“Kubrick often positions Nicholson visually against extremely formal backgrounds.  One image frames him in the abstract design of a wall tapestry.  A Native American motif, it also resembles a printed circuit.  It calls to mind the rigor of programmed information.  No deviation allowed.  In another shot, Torrance looms above a model of the garden maze…The maze clearly alludes to the Minotaur myth in which a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man who was kept in a labyrinth and fed on human flesh until a hero, Theseus, killed it.  It was a legend that had long appealed to Kubrick.  (The company that made Killer’s Kiss twenty-five years before was called Minotaur Productions.)…In his film, the environment is destiny, not its instrument.” (Stanley Kubrick, pg. 293)

The bull/Minotaur Taurus with Gemini, the twins.

The bull/Minotaur Taurus with Gemini, the twins and “Monarch.”

As the dysfunctional family heads to their nightmare abode, Jack discusses the reality of cannibalism as “necessary to survive,” sneering at Danny’s awareness of what he saw “on television.”  Jack is displaying his psychopathic, parasitic side in a premonition of what he will do with his own family – become cannibalistic.  Here it is crucial to note, as Ager has shown, that Jack apparently has homosexual proclivities, despite his fatherly role.  Touring the hotel, Ullman reveals the secret to the Overlook – it was formerly a getaway for elites, Hollywood stars and royalty – all the “best people.”  Kubrick’s dour view of American aristocracy is reflected in their offspring, represented in the film by Jack.  The hotel is not merely a site for elite orgies and lascivious dalliances, but also a kind of sacrificial site where the spirits feed parasitically on the fear of the victims, as we saw in Twin Peaks.

The alchemical "Gold Room" according to Jay Weidner.

The alchemical “Gold Room” according to Jay Weidner.

Touring the hotel, Wendy refers to it like it, too, is a maze, as references to cartoons and nursery rhymes appear again.  Danny is spoken of as lost, looking for his parents who have toured the hotel and forgotten him in the “game room,” as Jack rhetorically states, “Did you get tired of bombing the universe?”  signifying Danny’s representation of American aggression and the great Enlightenment experiment that sits upon a giant Indian burial ground (the U.S.).  Kubrick was very much a critic of Americanism and its foreign policy, as we can see in films like Dr. Strangelove where the absurdity of mutually assured Cold War destruction and the Rand Corporation are lampooned.

The Cold War Great Game is truly a “game room” of the theater of war.  Danny, we recall, had seen the twins in the “game room,” and behind him is visible a poster that reads “Monarch,” and given Danny’s representation of both traumatized youth and naïve America, even Monarch can be applied to the nation as a whole, since I’ve argued the MK ULTRA programs were really about mass mind control.  More and more is being revealed about Danny’s abuse, trauma and mind control under the hand of Jack.

Jack at the head of the maze, like the Minotaur and the apex of the pyramid as in 2001.

Jack at the head of the maze, like the Minotaur and the apex of the pyramid as in 2001.

Monarch is reportedly as aspect of the MKULTRA projects that dealt with mass mind control, with whispers of creating dissociative states and altered consciousness through LSD, torture and traumatization.  Even if this has been exaggerated, the film uses this narrative with Danny being subject to Jack’s abuse, Danny’s “alter” or spirit “Tony,” the game room reference to “Monarch” and frequent use of maze and labyrinth symbolism, signifying compartments of the psyche. Note below Jack’s exhaustion and sleep state is accompanied by images of butterflies, signifying his transformation, as well as the mirror.  Mirrors often represent the subconscious, the psyche or the inner world that is reflected in our minds from the outer world, as well as signifying the spiritual realm, closely parallel to our own where much of The Shining is taking place.  It is in this scene that Jack once again hints he is writing the ghostly horror tale that is not a book.   

Compartments of the maze like compartments of the psych, and Danny's carpet maze simulacra.

Compartments of the maze like compartments of the psych, and Danny’s carpet maze simulacra.

The maze is interesting for its dual usage as well: symbolizing both Jack’s psyche and his writing of the fiction into his reality, the viewer begins to discover the principle of simulacrum, where the modelled things become real in a kind of preparatory phase.  I have highlighted Spielberg’s use of this in Close Encounters and E.T., where the director functions in the role of a kind of magus, foresignyfing the events that will come.  Through symbolic objects like toys in Close EncountersE.T. or A.I. later appear real, Roy’s mashed potatoes and television programs (such as The Ten Commandments where Moses is at Mt. Sinai – like Devil’s Mountain).  Like Devil’s Mountain in Close Encounters, the Overlook Hotel is also situated on a “high place,” where the spirits of the dead meet with man and demand and exchange.

The models in Roy's house in Close Encounters will become real, later as the government stages an outbreak in the train sequence.

The models in Roy’s house in Close Encounters will become real, later as the government stages an outbreak in the train sequence.

What I suspect is this is not merely a plot device or choice of nostalgic imagery, but an attempt to script reality by writing one’s own twilight language.  My thesis on twilight language is that is a kind of angelic script that integrates synchronicitous events like a kind of text to be read, while writers and directors like King, Kubrick and Spielberg are operating in the role of the magus to produce a dramaturgical ritual that communicates with the subconscious.  This is also why mazes and labyrinths have historically been associated with both the underworld and the psyche, as we saw in the Lucas/Henson Labyrinth:

In “The Process of Individuation” by M.L. von Franz in Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, the author explains of the meaning of the labyrinth as subconscious:

Aeneas in the Underworld, Aeneid by Vergil, Book 6.

Aeneas in the Underworld, Aeneid by Vergil, Book 6.

“The maze of strange passages, chambers, and unlocked exits in the cellar recalls the old Egyptian representation of the underworld, which is a well-known symbol of the unconscious with its abilities. It also shows how one is “open” to other influences in one’s unconscious shadow side and how uncanny and alien elements can break in.” (pg. 176)

And

“Simulacra is important to semiotics, but it also has an important role in esoterism because of the idea of correspondences.  Before modern philosophy divorced metaphysics from academia, the holistic view of the sciences in the western tradition included an idea of essentialism which would have connected the “essences” of things with all their referents and symbols.  Thus, there would be an association between the symbol of the maze, the model, and its referent, the actual maze.  This is a deep, difficult subject that gets into a lot of heavy philosophy and semiotics, but the idea is simply foreign to most moderns because of stupid philosophy.  Thus, Plato discussed simulacra, and the wiki entry on simulacrum even mentions Spielberg’s Jurassic Park as an example.   Hollywood, just like esoterism, or like writing itself, is the manipulation of copies, signs and symbols.  As I mentioned earlier, E.T. is about symbols, language and meaning (like Close Encounters), and we are constantly given camera angles and shots in E.T. from a kid’s perspective.  The cross-reference to Star Wars is also interesting.”

The alchemical maze gardens of Frederick the Palantine, The Hortius Palatinus.

The alchemical maze gardens of Frederick the Palantine, The Hortius Palatinus.

Reminiscent of the Hortus Palantius, the garden maze of the Overlook Hotel would appear to have an alchemical significance in similar fashion as the 17th century “eighth wonder of the world” constructed by Elector Frederick Palantine V for his wife Elizabeth Stuart contains.  According to Enlightenment scholar Dame Frances Yates, the gardens signified Rosicrucian mysteries, both regents being friends of Francis Bacon (Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Pgs. 16-23).  Largely destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, the garden mazes are replete with esoteric symbology according to Dame Yates and we can see in Kubrick’s maze that same principle at work.  In fact, while looking at the image of the maze on the sign you see, it occurred to me how similar the maze was to both a mandala and a sigil.

The Overlook Maze, reminiscent of the mandala or a sigil.

The Overlook Maze, reminiscent of the mandala or a sigil.  The Loser has to keep America “clean” of the people are aren’t the “best people.”

This connection is not tenuous, as Oxford anthropologist and comparative religion scholar John Layard outlines in his work “The Malekulan Journey of the Dead” where the indigineous religious mythology of the Malekulan tribe’s after death journey is drawn from the patterned formations that appear in the natural, sacred geometry of the tortoise shell.  Not only is this seen to be a kind of math puzzle, it is also a maze and a pathway for the dead, resembling a sigil:

Malekulan mazes and sigils, signifying the journey of the soul after death.

Malekulan mazes and sigils, signifying the journey of the soul after death.

“Fig. 8, Constructed in a similar way, resembles a mandala…Apart from a diamond shaped center unconnected with the other parts, the whole design is formed of a single, never-ending line.  These are only a few examples of the pure art forms that have developed in Malekula out of the labyrinth motive combined with that derived from the outline of the human form. [The Anthropocosmic principle]

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From the Near East to Malekula is a long way.  However, there are connecting links that suggest the itinerary which thee combined motives apparently followed.  One such link is to be found in South India, where ritual and labyrinth designs almost identical with those made in Malekula are still in use.  This field of study had only begun to be investigated, but already it is possible to throw light on certain obscure points in classical tradition by comparison with the living beliefs of Malekula.  The sibyl of classical and medieval lore may well be compared with the Malekulan Female Devouring Ghost, sitting beside her cave guarding the labyrinth.  Through caves or clefts guarded by these mythical figures mighty heroes of antiquity started their journeys to the underworld to visit the shades of their ancestors.

Using the animism of the Malekulan tribe as an exemplar, we see the symmetry and patterns of the tortoise shell that inform their mythology of the maze that follows upon death.

Using the animism of the Malekulan tribe as an exemplar, we see the symmetry and patterns of the tortoise shell that inform their mythology of the maze that follows upon death.

Virgil describes such a descent in the sixth book of the Aeneid, in which Aeneas goes into the underworld.  Hitherto, scholars have, very understandably, failed to appreciate why, in his introduction to this book, the Latin poet interrupts his otherwise consecutive tale with a now apparently unintelligible interpolation concerning a labyrinth.  Aeneas, who has finally landed at Cumae on Latin soil, approaches a cave, guarded by the sibyl, through which he wishes to descend to Hades.  But here Virgil, often criticized for a passage that has nothing to do with the story, breaks off his account to describe a representation of the Cretan labyrinth, depicted at the entrance to the Cumean Cave is right in its symbolic place, but also that for the Roman reader the scene would have been charged with all the emotion connection with initiation rites at the journey into the land of the dead.  In this same book of the Aeneid are also described “two waters;” outside flows the Styx nine times round, the river of death, which Aeneas can only be ferried over after he has shown the sibyl the famous Golden Bough or magic wand which, judging from the Malekulan evidence, is his own counterpart or spiritual double. Inside, he comes to Lethe, the water of forgetfulness leading to the inner life, which for full initiation he must immerse himself to achieve new life on earth.  (Spiritual Disciplines: Papers From the Eranos Yearbook, pgs. 148-50).

Mandala-esque design of the same tribe that illustrates both the psyche and the human form, showing the anthropic principle.

Mandala-esque design of the same tribe that illustrates both the psyche and the human form, showing the anthropic principle.

The esoteric and literary topoi in connection to Jack Torrance become obvious: Jack’s own psyche is plunging into the underworld maze of his dark persona as he is already under the reign of death through his gradual possession.  This makes perfect sense of the infamous scene with Jack staring at the model of the maze gardens that morph into the real maze, with Wendy and Danny.  The underworld is Jack’s psyche where, like the minotaur in the mythology of Theseus and the labyrinth, Danny will battle the bullish beast in the center of the Labyrinth.  This is why Jack even seems to have a kind of bullish appearance, as well as a devilish minotaur that appears in the hallway of the game room when Danny sees the omen of the murdered twins.  Interestingly the twins are Gemini and we are told in the film the time period is May, which corresponds directly the transition of Taurus the Bull to Gemini – the Minotaur (Jack) to the Twins, which I think is an intentional correspondence.

Jack is seen in the mirror in his dream state, with monarch butterflies in view.

Jack is seen in the mirror in his dream state, with monarch butterflies in view.

The omen of the murdered twins seen by Danny, along with the vision of rivers of blood gushing from the elevator is also biblical in nature, recalling the curse of the Book of Exodus upon Egypt.  It is also possible the twins have a twin towers significance, since in Masonry the twin pillars are Jachin and Boaz, which signify a doorway or portal to the Temple (as well as is the meaning of Gemini in Babylonian mythology) which makes sense given the title for Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the events of September 11, 2001.

Twin towers, twin pillars - Gemini

Twin towers, twin pillars – Gemini

Room 237, in my estimation does not relate to the moon.  Although I do think Weidner is correct to point out the images of Danny in the Apollo shirt are a reference to NASA utilizing Kubrick and front screen projection to film the footage, I am doubtful that the number change from King’s novel is about the distance to the moon.  In my estimation, 237, being the location of the murder of the twins is supposed to foreshadow the murder of another child, Danny, who wears a “42” shirt (2x3x7=42). This is also why the film Wendy and Danny are watching is Summer of 42, a reverse Lolita-style tale of an older woman who seduced a younger boy.

Danny's "42" shirt with inverted pentagrams.

Danny’s “42” shirt with inverted pentagrams.

This is the second reference to pedophilia and Danny’s 42 shirt clues us into that. Note that Kubrick also directed Lolita.  As the news reports foretell the coming snowstorm, we see Jack fall deeper into his trance states and demonic glares as Wendy and Danny begin to feel the drag of cabin fever.  Danny’s “shining” kicks in (his premonition and sixth sense powers) and he begins to see more terrifying images as “Tony” tells him it’s “just like pictures in a book, it isn’t real,” highlighting the surrealist dream state aspect of the film.  As Walker, Taylor and Ruchti explain:

Illicit underage seduction in the "Summer of 42."

Illicit underage seduction in the “Summer of 42.” Credit to Rob Ager.

“It [The Shining] was also a prefect “closed set.”  Barry Lyndon, which dispersed the action across vast landscapes, stands alone, in that respect, for Kubrick has always been happiest with the walls of a soundstage enfolding him protectively.  To work in a studio concentrates his mind and, he believes and helps his players to focus their “psychic energy.” (Stanley Kubrick, 291)

And

“Up to now, we might conceivably have believed that all of Jack’s apparitions are lived only in his own schizophrenia.  But once the storeroom bolts are physically drawn back by an unseen Grady, liberating Torrance to commence his assault on his family, the tables are turned on us.  The ghosts aren’t one’s imagination: They are real!” (Ibid., 310)

The “psychic energy” that inhabits the Overlook, and particularly Room 237 and Jack, is exceedingly nefarious, but if you pay attention to the sequencing of the scenes, it is my contention that they are somewhat out of order.  When Danny is discovered to be beaten and abused, Wendy later thinks it was the old hag in Room 237, and no longer Jack who is the culprit.  Rather, it is the hag who possesses Jack to do this, and Danny’s experience of the event was seeing one of the spirits who possesses Jack.  This is the explanation of the scene where Jack investigates the bathroom and the beautiful naked woman becomes the hag, invoking the mythology of the sirens of the sea as mentioned earlier.  The scenes are thus told from Jack’s vantage point, while others are Danny’s spiritual vantage point, through Tony, his dissociative alter identity (who seems to be a real spirit).  Jack, almost fully possessed, says Danny hurt himself, gas lighting a willfully deluded Wendy who continues to fail to see the evil of Jack (possibly due to her deluded view of spirits from her fascination with witchcraft).

While the notion of a Monarch mind control slave might seem outlandish, and I admit to being skeptical of how authentic that notion really, it’s fascinating to see mainline Kubrick scholars deducing that is what appears to be the film’s narrative.  In the popular conspiracy vernacular, the reasoning of course goes that the CIA and various secret societies have raised certain persons to be traumatized victims of occult brainwashing, able to be triggered at any moment with various trigger codes.  In my estimation, it’s definitely the case that generational bloodline families will traumatize their offspring, often do raise them in the occult and will, in a sense, “program” them.

Inverted lettering from the spiritual world shown in mirrors.

Inverted lettering from the spiritual world shown in mirrors.

As to whether there is a hidden cell structure of sleepers that are due to snap at any moment with some code and shoot up a theater like the so-called James Holmes event, no (being a staged event).  Yet there are elite Satanic psychopaths, and they do promulgate psychopathy with their progeny.  And regardless of one’s opinions on those matters, that does seem to be what is happening in The Shining, as Jack is either himself traumatized, or seeking to traumatize and sacrifice his family for entrance into greatness, which he believes is being stalled due to his family duties.  Previously mentioned mainstream Kubrick analysts even admit:

“The scene between Nicholson and Stone has a cool comic civility that turns downright chilly as the spook gives Torrance his orders – to kill his family.  The actors serve Kubrick impeccably.  They play the masquerade with relish for its Pinteresque undertones, only hinted at by Grady’s use of a choice word like “correction,” as if it were the “trigger” word for Torrance’s programmed psychosis.” (Ibid., 309)

As the horrifying scenes come towards the climax with Dick being murdered and the family on the run, I am reminded of elements of storytelling that would later be used by directors like Lynch or Linklater, where the surrealist dream state blends seamlessly with the waking state to create an inchoate, mystical formlessness to reality as merely an external projection of the inner psyche.  Carl Jung, as well as many in the hermetic traditions have propounded this view, where ultimately the realization of man’s own inner divinity is premised on a kind of “awakening” akin to far eastern religious thought.  Ager is excellent in explicating the various perspectives on the dream states in the film from Danny’s vantage point, while I disagree with Ager’s analysis that Kubrick is not interested in esoterica or the occult.  I also disagree with Ager that Jack is not supposed to be possessed, just a violent drunk.  Danny’s spirit “Tony” and the occult references show we are dealing with a real spiritual realm.  Ager rightly comments:

The demonic spirits require a blood sacrifice on the part of Jack.

The demonic spirits require a blood sacrifice on the part of Jack.

“By far the biggest giveaway is Danny’s description of his own psychic episodes. Halloran asks Danny how his imaginary friend Tony tells him things and Danny replies, “It’s like I go to sleep and he shows me things, but when I wake up I can’t remember everything.” Remember also that Danny’s very first psychic episode in the film resulted in him being found unconscious “I remember mommy saying ‘wake up Danny, wake up’.”

Much later in the film Danny is heard in his bedroom shouting “Redrum.” His mother enters the room and shakes him.  The ensuing dialogue again hints at the nightmare nature of his visions. Wendy: “Wake up Danny, you were having a bad dream.” Danny: Danny can’t wake up Mrs Torrance. Danny’s gone away Mrs Torrance.”

Elite sexual furry bear deviancy, recalling Eyes Wide Shut, with the British Royal.

Elite sexual furry bear deviancy, recalling Eyes Wide Shut, with the British Royal.

In this philosophy, mastering the inner world leads to a mastering of the outer world as the initiate or “enlightened one” meditates to achieve a perceptive unity between the subconscious dream realm and the phenomena of waking experience.  Elucidating a Freudian element that is also definitely in Kubrick the previously cited authors explain:

‘So what is the meaning of his horrifying epiphany?  Freud said that film going is like wakeful dreaming.  Kubrick also believed that films connect subtly with the subconscious.  Meaning, he said, may be found in the sensation of a thing, not in its explanation.  Yet he has provided a clue.  In certain interviews around this time, he mentioned his admiration for Rhapsody: A Dream Novel, a novella really, by Arthur Schnitzler…In Rhapsody, the main character, a wealthy young doctor in Vienna, passes almost imperceptibly in and out of the dream state, experiencing seduction, erotic longing, and unrequited passion as if they were events in his waking state….Kubrick’s hankering to make a film of Schnitzler’s novel probably goes back to his cinema beginnings-and he has finally achieved it, in a manner of speaking with Eyes Wide Shut.” (Ibid., 305-6)

The "Magic Circle" in Eyes Wide Shut.

The “Magic Circle” in Eyes Wide Shut.

Ultimately, the film concludes with a form eternal recurrence (as shown in Lynch’s Lost Highway) where the end of the film culminates in a Baphomet style pose of Jack among the “best people,” the boom era of 1921, where the jet set, Hollywood stars and royalty are shown to be the ghostly parasitic inhabitants of the Overlook.  Demanding Jack offer up the blood of his family as “his duty,” Jack’s envy of the good life he felt he deserved as a failed writer, combined with the resentment of his family whom he blames, we are reminded of Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment who as a young man decides the path to greatness must involve murder.  Indeed, as Ager comments, the abuse is generational and shown in the consistent uses of bears:

“Bear suit … bare bottom. Is this a pun? Is Kubrick using a sly visual metaphor to reveal certain characters in the film, such as Jack and Ullman, as bear-faced liars? Being that the two bears in the film that have teeth are the one in the Colorado Lounge, which represented Jack, and the felatio bear, are we to conclude that Wendy actually sees Jack giving felatio instead of Danny? Absolutely. As it turns out, the abuse suffered by Danny is something that has been passed down through the generations. Abused children grow up to become abusers and repeat the sins of their parents in a continuous cycle.”

Brainfreeze in Dante's Inferno.

Brainfreeze in Dante’s Inferno.

Jack’s demonic bidders offer him a place among the privileged (he thinks), if he is willing to rid himself of his family.  This is why the issue of Playgirl contained the story of incest, as well as why the hotel had been the site of lush masquerades, balls and even orgies and sexual deviancy like “furries.”   We are reminded of Eyes Wide Shut, which focused on the same notions of elite perversion, sex magick and secret societies.  Although we see no overt secret societies here, Ullman seems to have familiarity with the young women who frequent the lodge (possibly prostitutes).  Loving the theme of eternal recurrence and possibly reincarnation, recall my comments on this in 2001, particularly with Bowman and Starchild:

“God is an advanced A.I. that we created long ago, and then through its own self-advancing self-realization, created its own computer-generated world, and in that world are humans, and like Neo, Bowman breaks free of Plato’s cave to cheat death and rise to rebirth among the gods, and the process repeats in eternal return with a new Genesis.  If not, then Bowman simply evolves and “aliens” show him the way, and deify him.  Either way, it is a cyclical process of a time-bound, emergent deity arising from within the kosmos itself, and not an eternal deity who alone subsists outside time and space who creates ex nihilo.”

'As above, so below," as Jack displays the Baphomet sign, trapped in his own psychical prison of eternal return.

‘As above, so below,” as Jack displays the Baphomet sign, trapped in his own psychical prison of eternal return.

Jack’s experience will be similar to Bill Harford’s in Eyes Wide Shut, while they are of course very different characters.  Like the Indian burial ground upon which the hotel is built, it becomes site of ritual chant and ritual enactment as Wendy’s flight from Jack features background music of Native American chanting (similar to the masked ball music in Eyes Wide Shut).  The sacrifice is the climax of the film and the liturgy, where the release of the blood will satiate the powers of darkness (like The Man From Another Place in Twin Peaks).  Like the mazes of M.C. Escher, a “strangeloop” of eternal return will be the punishment Jack concocts for himself in his psychical prison for failing to complete his task as ordered by Grady.  Frozen like the damned souls in Dante’s Inferno, it is worth noting that Dante also made reference to the minotaur that relates well to the obligations Grady places upon the beast, Jack:

“My sage cried out to him: “You think, perhaps, this is the Duke of Athens [Theseus], who in the world put you to death.  Get away, you beast, for this man does not come tutored by your sister; he comes to view your punishments.” (Inferno, Canto XII)

Trauma-based mass mind control in Kubrick's adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, with the blatant Overlooking All-Seeing Eye.

Trauma-based mass mind control in Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, with the blatant Overlooking All-Seeing Eye.

The Shining, then, is a ghost story – but also something much deeper in Kubrick’s film.  It is a multi-layered exploration of the psyche, the spiritual realm, surrealism, ancient mythology and the satanic occult elite that rule the West, as the theme of pedophilic generational bloodlines parasitically manipulate the under class through the false promise of worldly prosperity.  For Jack, Danny and the Overlook Hotel and its magnificent maze, we see America in a microcosm, situated on old Indian lands that now house a world super power intent on “bombing the universe” into submission, all at the behest of psychopathic madmen like Jack or as displayed in Dr. Strangelove.  This control structure operates through cult sex magick and generational traumatization (Lolita, Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket) and maintains its control over the masses through the real Monarch program, mass media and social engineering (Clockwork Orange).  For Kubrick, The Shining is another in this film canon that displays the dark side of spiritual phantasms that lie behind the mirror of our world.

If you like this analysis, pre-order my book Esoteric Hollywood by clicking this image!

If you like this analysis, pre-order my book Esoteric Hollywood by clicking this image!

Check out my show Esoteric Hollywood, every Tues-Fri at 10PM Pacific on Talknetwork.com.  Below is my episode on The Shining.

29 thoughts on “The Shining (1980) – Esoteric Analysis

  1. The frozen souls in Dante’s Divine Comedy are confined in ice for the sin of treachery. A sin Jack is also guilty of. One of Dante’s treacherous sinners is a cannibal who vents his rage by eating the brain of a fellow traitor who is frozen next to him for all eternity. I can’t help but think of that example whenever I am reminded of America’s love affair with zombies.

    Another parallel is A.I.’s David who is frozen next to the Blue Fairy for thousands of years. The Blue Fairy being the siren/witch/hag to David’s Jack or Danny. A.I. is another Spielberg/Kubrick Joint.

    Great work.

  2. Quentin Tarantino has an explicit scene of identity alteration in Death Proof http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9m4m61irpo. Any normal person can drive a car to a destination responding to external events, but with no recollection of having consciously done so. Amnesia can even develop for the dissociated consciousness that drove the car. If someone has a talent for dissociation and they are hypnotised to respond to keywords – like tv hypnotism – you then have an eyes wide shut scenario. A Victorias Secret model visits Paris at the same time as the COP21 talks, has sex with dignitaries of the global elite, but with no recollection of having done so. Amnesia can even develop for the dissociated consciousness that was visiting Paris. Alan Watt even said the COP21 meeting was notable for the a la carte dining and prostitutes.

  3. As you ponted out in parts of South India they draw those sacred geometrical patterns with chalk outside their homes/business every night. It’s pretty impressive how quickly they knock them up. I especially saw them in temple towns like Hampi and Gokarna.

  4. if you combine dissociation, somatic narcissism and hypnosis you have a person with suggestability, compulsive hypersexuality and a non-existent ‘reality test’. They would mistake their sexual behaviour for a dream – as a defence mechanism against shame. This is implied in Alice’s garden dream in EWS. For the somatic narcissist hypersexuality is not an option it is required by the identity as a ritual activity. Without sexual conquests they ‘decompensate’ like a vampire being hit with sunlight. Combine somatic narcissism with dissociation and hypnosis you have a sex marionette

  5. “Either way, it is a cyclical process of a time-bound, emergent deity arising from within the kosmos itself, and not an eternal deity who alone subsists outside time and space who creates ex nihilo.”

    This thought is very similar to a passage from Micheal Aquino’s “Black Magick” book. Aquino is very much synonym for Psy-Ops, you can hear him wax poetically about this topics in this link, it might be useful material for further research. His “Setian” methaphysics is very much LHP mixed with Crowley + Plato.

    GBM stands for Greater Black Magick, and LBM for lesser for him, and it’s very much in the Robert Anton Wilson’s subjective/objective “Reality Tunnel” concepts.

    The passage from “Black Magick” that i’m talking about,its a copy/paste:

    “The Æon of Horus is not just a period of time when ideas symbolized by
    Horus are dominant. Rather it is a Ding an sich, a noumenon: something of purely
    rational apprehension, not perception by the senses.
    Thus in what I might term the LBM sense, an æon is simply an attitude which
    one chooses or is conditioned to adopt. This is what I mean when I say that
    different people “exist in different æons”: that a Jew, Christian or Moslem exists in the
    Æon of Osiris, a Wiccan in that of Isis, and a Thelemite in that of Horus.
    Accordingly, while I consider æons “pyramidal” in sophistication, after the fashion
    of Plato’s “pyramid of thought”, I see no reason to consider them time-sequential, with
    each new one superseding and obliterating the one before it.
    In an LBM sense, therefore, the population of the world continues overwhelmingly
    in the grip of the Æon of Osiris, the best intentions of Aiwass notwithstanding. The Æon
    of Isis is the next influential, followed by that of Horus. The Æon of Set, highest on the
    pyramid and most difficult to comprehend and indwell, is the “smallest” and most
    exclusive of all.

    As with the degree system, it would be very difficult if not impossible to spend all of
    one’s time in a “higher æon”. When we go about our affairs in the profane world, we are
    usually Osirians, peering with curiosity and vague alarm at ecological activists (Isis) or
    avant-garde artists (Horus). Yet we experience periods of Isis and Horus too – and, when
    we wish to, that very rarefied Æon of Set.
    Crowley, who suggested that æons were periods of time in “catastrophic
    succession” – I presume in order to more forcefully advance the cause of the Æon of
    Horus – predicted in the Equinox #I-10 that following the ÆH “will arise the Equinox of
    Ma, the goddess of justice. It may be a hundred or ten thousand years from now (1913),
    for the computation of time is not here as there.” In 1921, in his “new comment” to Liber
    Legis, Crowley speculated that the next æon would be that of Thmaist, third officer in
    the G.’.D.’. Neophyte ritual. On the other hand, he continued, “It may be presumptuous
    to predict any details concerning the next æon after this.”
    That is essentially my attitude as well. As Magus of the Æon of Set, I am an Eye in
    that particular Triangle [or Shining Trapezohedron], as it were. The only one who knows
    for certain what the next-conceived æon will be, if indeed there should be one, would the
    Magus or Maga who Utters its word.

    Above I made reference to æons “in an LBM sense”. Is there a “GBM sense” as
    well? Indeed there is, but – like Her-Bak – you are going to have to reflect very carefully
    upon it to apprehend it.
    Seen through the lens of GBM, an æon is in fact a living entity, in which its initiates
    are “cells”. This is the secret which the Gnostics brought from antiquity, and which so
    frightened the Christian dogmatists. The “god” of an æon is thus a creature of the total
    magical and philosophical energy of material beings who are initiates of that æon, i.e.
    who are aware that they are “components of the god”. [Are you now beginning to see the
    ancient origins of Hegel’s concept of an “overmind”?]
    Understood in this sense, a GBM Working is a way of the “part’s” reaching out to
    contact, experience, and/or express the “whole”. This is why true GBM is not even
    remotely like “prayer” as the profane practice it. Nor is it mere meditation, in which the
    mind of the meditator merely extends to its own limits. It is the greatest secret, and the
    greatest fulfillment, of unique existence.
    Once an æon is apprehended in this way, a great many veils fall away, a great many
    mysteries of what magic is/ why it works are revealed, and indeed the entire “why” of
    human consciousness is explained. All you need is the noesis to perceive it. Don’t be
    concerned if you don’t attain such noesis the moment you finish your first reading of
    Black Magic. It is there; and when you are ready for it, It will be ready for you.”

  6. Pingback: Jay Dyer’s Esoteric Hollywood: The Real Meaning Kubrick’s Shining | Jay's Analysis

  7. Great analysis Jay. Always something new!

    I read the Novel of The Shining a couple of years ago. It’s interesting, the differences. I saw the film long before reading the book. Was always struck by the fact Kubrick used King’s novel, as it is pulp horror fiction. Usually used more literary efforts I thought? But on later inspection the novel is actually quite good. The scenes where Jack is becoming obsessed with reading news clips in the boiler room. The boiler itself, similar to the fireplace in The Amittyville Horror? The killer topiary animals, replaced by the maze in the film, that move only when not being looked at (like the angels in Doctor Who). The roque(sp.) mallets that Jack uses, replaced by an axe in the film. And Tony being a little boy who lives in Danny’s mouth, sometimes seen in the distance. Redrum is there though. Isn’t it interesting how murder can seem a terrible word for a child, but has become normalized for adults? When Murder She Wrote came on TV in the 80’s, just the title and idea horrified me at the time.

    You know he has written a recent sequel? I read that one as well. Along with some of his other recent works. Doctor sleep doesn’t read as well as the other, original ideas. One I haven’t gotten to yet is 11/22/63 witch I fear upholds the official lone patsy narrative. Mr. Mercury presents a good recipe for a James Holmes, or sandy hook guy, crossed with Norman Bates, for lone nut home grown terror. Under the Dome has a brain tumor induced serial killer. In Doctor Sleep, King makes mention of a character from his son Joe Hill’s novel N0S 4A2 and Christmasland, where Children are kidnapped and taken to. Also in Doctor Sleep a brief mention about “Finders” searching for gifted children to steal their Shining power, through traumatic ritual killing.

    Of the earlier King novels, Pet Semetary is almost polar opposite of The Shining. The movie was pretty bad. The book is great though. Very similar, with native, manitou motifs and compromised father figure, wife, son, wise old guy who helps out, etc. But in this one it’s all reversed, what happens to everyone. Especially in the books, because Halloran survives. The idea’s Levenda brings up in Sinister Forces. Or HP Lovecraft. The fear of the unknown, lurking in the New England countryside. Kubrick leaves most of that alone. Better portrayed in Larry Fessenden’s low budget indie The Manitou, or Ravenous. There’s a new low bug with Kurt Russell, Bone Tomahawk, which had some potential, but blew it. There’s a film of Ghost Story too. Though all lesser films on their own merits, of course.

    Lesser films indeed. Along with Twin Peaks (1st season) and some of Lynches other work, The Shining stands out as one of the best. Movies of King’s books don’t have a good track record mostly. Romero’s The Dark Half is good. Trying to think of anything else along those lines. Maybe Suspiria? Any ideas, or suggestions?

  8. The page out of “The Malekulan Journey of the Dead,” figure B, with the criss cross design reminds me of the criss crosses cut into the Black Dalhia’s, Elizabeth’s Short’s hip. There was artwork done by Man Ray called L’Equivoque, that pictured a women with these criss crosses in place of facial features. I just finished reading Steve Hodel’s book and visited his website. Man Ray may also be referenced by the Minotaur.
    Also, Wendy and the twin girls both wear clothes with cross cross and block patterns in blue and white. Danny and Wendy wear the colors blue, white and red.
    In the scene where Jack has the Playboy magazine, he is wearing the same criss cross pattern.
    Another MK ultra reference is in the rainbow stickers on the back of his door. Plus, there were several species of birds.

  9. I also think that the Clockwork orange eye is very similar to the eye in Man Rays famous photo, “Tears.” Clocks may be a reference to Dali and his use of clocks in his artwork. JD Salinger had a penchant for very young girls. The twins outfits are very similar to Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz minus the red ruby slippers. Is the Overlook hotel a reference to Lookout Mountain AF Station?

  10. Pingback: Jay Dyer’s Esoteric Hollywood: The Real Meaning of Kubrick’s Shining | A Sweet Dose of Reality

  11. I’ve always thought that the Shining deserved a deeper analysis than I have typically read. I’m glad you took the time to do it and show the layered themes of the movie. It’s interesting that while watching the movie you these tones emotionally and instinctually, yet you feel unclear as to why you’re so uncomfortable. Kubrick really was a unique master.

    I find the demonic rulers of the overlook as a metaphor for the American rulership to be quite poignant in that no rational, respectable adult believes in ghosts, nor do they believe in an elite ruling class that pulls the strings from behind the scenes. Theses are both seen to be “ghost stories” for the children and the gullible. In this way the two archetypes are quite similar, and has interesting comparisons with SPECTRE.

    While I’ve tended to think that monarch itself is bogus, or a misdirection, I had always held a contention that the use of dissociation, hypnotism, trauma-based mind control, etc. were techniques utilized by intelligence groups for the purpose of programming persons for various tasks. Estabrooks seemed pretty confident in what he was able to do, and Cameron and West’s work seemed to be drawing on similar techniques if not directly related. I agree with your statement that the real objective of mk ultra was mass mind control, what I’m wondering is do you think that the notion of programming through dissociation etc. isn’t really a thing, that it is simply overblown, or something else?

    In relation to that I would enjoy learning your take on the Valorie Wolf episode back in the late nineties at the hearing for radiological abuses. I admit that I have accepted the testimony of those women with perhaps less critical analysis than I ought to have, but something about their stories seems reasonable to me despite the outlandish quality of them. Perhaps it was a ruse though to make the hearing seem ridiculous to the standard public.

  12. Pingback: BOILER ROOM – EP#43 – Cloppers, OR Osmosis, MK Ultra & Voltron

  13. Pingback: Boiler Room: Jay Dyer & Jamie Hanshaw on MK Culture, Bronies & Oregon PsyOps | Jay's Analysis

  14. I haven’t seen Kubrick’s Lolita for decades, but I just watched Adrian Lynn’s recent Lolita. I noted that beyond the stepfather’s guilty pedophilia is an extremely evil, wealthy pedophile operating out of a mansion and connected to a private school giving him access to the children under the cover of “progressive” ideas stressing “dating” instead of scholarship. In fact, the pedophile has the corrupt school administrators photograph child pornography in his mansion. The guilty pedophile stepfather attempts to redeem himself by murdering the committed one. ODDLY, Adrian Lynn utilizes the David Lynch device of flickering electric interference to lights, etc. when the evil, committed pedophile makes his entry to scenes.

  15. Wonderful in-depth critique on The Shining. You & Rob Ager are correct about the Monarch/MKultra references in not only The Shining, but also in Clockwork Orange & Eyes Wide Shut. The bear symbolism here is really more (sadly) a continued inference of this dark mind conditioning when perpetrated on children; bears for boys (such as traumatized Danny’s teddys & Jack’s scarier adult bears in the hotel) & cats/stuffed tigers for girls (the murdered twins, the ‘Cat Lady’ in Clockwork Orange, and the women & girl beta kitten victims in Eyes Wide Shut who are seen posed with stuffed felines).

    The ultimate proof of this Monarch/traumatic abuse symbolism in The Shining lies within the film’s centerpiece prop: the hotel’s blood-spewing elevator. If you look at a screengrab of the elevator before its doors open – carvings of bears & cats are on its very columns (below the grimacing face above the doors). Kubrick certainly must have specified for the construction of the elevator what designs he wanted exactly to go on it, so they can’t be dismissed as random images. As you know, Kubrick don’t play random.

    The bears on either post have a double face – an inside cartoony dead bear with tongue out & X’s for eyes – and an outside scary enraged bear face which is splitting the bottom cat head open with an axe (or pulling it apart with its own claws). Another visual clue that the murder of the two girls also infers sexual abuse is the axe in the famous scene – despite all the blood splashed everywhere in the hallway, the most blood on the axe itself is actually the bloody hand-prints on the axe handle, not the axe blade (like one would expect after committing such a bloodbath).

    Last thing you may find interesting – that screengrab you have of Wendy viewing sleeping Jack thru her vanity mirror – zoom in REAL close & look at the “reflection” just above Jack’s head on the headboard. Warning – it’s NOT a happy face – but may further support the bear/Minotaur themes running through The Shining. At the very least, it’s one scary-looking demon.

  16. Pingback: Poltergeist (1982) – Youth Sacrificed to The Beast (JaysAnalysis) | Jay's Analysis

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