Your Money's no Good Here!

July 30, 2021
Steven McCormack
1 min

I have been engulfed by John Vervaeke's meaning masterclass, folks. Once you come across pearls of wisdom like this, it is hard to let go. But I return to the keyboard momentarily. One thing that fascinates me is John's explanation of horror; phenomena which lies outside of our understanding. He brings up that famous scene in The Shining (Stanley Kubrick / Steven King), where Jack is seemingly unlocked from a pantry by voices within his head. Prior to this scene, John had assumed the film was a representation of alcoholism. Jack is isolated (with only his wife and son for company) in the Overlook Hotel. He is frustrated by his writer's block. So Jack hits the bottle hard and loses grip on reality. Simples.

¡Qué Horror!

Yet this scene really freaks John out. Who (or what) opened the door? His assumptions were shattered by forces that are hidden from sight. This was no longer about Jack's condition, but about the very nature of the world he inhabits. Now I appreciate that is alot to deduce from a mere movie clip. But as an avid fan of Kubrick (and of The Shining in particular), it reminded me of another classic scene that evokes a similar perspective shift. Jack enters the hotel ballroom (The Gold Room), now spookily filled with guests from the 1920s. He recieves a bourbon from the barman (Lloyd), who will not accept Jack's money in return. Instead the bourbon is on 'orders from the house'. Free booze from generous spirits it seems. Typical tricks played by dastardly ghosts.

A Dollar for a Dollar?

But all is not what it seems, especially when you develop a strange fascination with assets, Nixon and monetary history. Again, it is easy to accuse me of overthinking on this. I may be weaving a narrative that simply does not exist. But hear me out. Jack attempts to settle his bill with a dollar from 1980 (when the film was released). But the barman, a figment of the 1920s, does not equate Jack's money with his own. How so? The clue is in the name; The Gold Room. The barman cannot accept 1980 dollars because they are a very different beast to 1920s dollars; they are no longer redeemable in gold (I refer you to the U.S. Federal Reserve for the policy details). The world's barometer for value is instead reliant upon the fiscal integrity of the U.S. Government and Saudi oil reserves. No wonder Stanley Kubrick allegedly kept a personal stash of gold in Switzerland.

Perhaps in this perspective, the final exchange between Jack and the barman carries a little more significance;

I'm the kind of man who likes to know who's buying their drinks, Lloyd.
It's not a matter that concerns you, Mr. Torrance - at least not at this point.
Anything you say, Lloyd.  Anything you say.

Forty one years later, perhaps it really is time to question who is buying our drinks.

Signing out, Steven.

Photo from Pinterest.


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