Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Choosing to Believe (Stephen King)

I recently read an interview with Stephen King by Rolling Stone that answers a question I had:  whether he believes in God.

To begin with, he explains his take on religion in regards to his new book Revival:

Stephen King caricature found on tomrichmond.com
Stephen King caricature found on tomrichmond.com

“My view is that organized religion is a very dangerous tool that’s been misused by a lot of people. I grew up in a Methodist church, and we went to services every Sunday and to Bible school in the summer. We didn’t have a choice. We just did it. So all that stuff about childhood religion in Revival is basically autobiographical. But as a kid, I had doubts. When I went to Methodist youth fellowship, we were taught that the Catholics were all going to go to hell because they worship idols. So right there, I’m saying to myself, “Catholics are going to go to hell, but my aunt Molly married a Catholic and she converted and she’s got 11 kids and they’re all pretty nice and one of them’s my good friend – they’re all going to go to hell?” I’m thinking to myself, “This is bullshit.” And if that’s bullshit, how much of the rest of it is bullshit?”

And then they get down to the nitty gritty:

“Yeah. I choose to believe in God because it makes things better. You have a meditation point, a source of strength. I don’t ask myself, “Well, does God exist or does God not exist?” I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, “God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.” And that works fine for me.”

Now, I would never attack someone’s religious beliefs and that’s not what I’m doing at all when I say, how can you choose to believe in something if you don’t already believe in it?  You either believe or you don’t believe.

This is a really big issue to me and I’ve given it a lot of thought over the last few years.  I do not have that ability to convince myself that something is or isn’t true, I either do believe or not.  Or I admit I don’t know which is the same as not knowing, or not believing, if you get my drift.  To believe you actually have to believe right!?!?

A friend of mine told me once that she simply changed the ending to a story (movie, book, etc) to a different ending in her mind and she chooses to remember that new ending instead of the real one.  She often will turn off a movie after the montage or during an upbeat moment, when things are still emotionally light and happy.  In her mind that is the ending, before the bad things can happen to the happy couple, or before a beloved character dies.  Even if that means missing crucial details of the story (yeah like the ending!).

So I have a problem with this.  Not necessarily that someone else does it (although that does erk me if I know they are otherwise reasonable people) but doing it myself is out of the question, basically impossible.  And I wouldn’t want to do it, even if I could.  You have to take the bad with the good in fiction and in life (granted, I have had it better than most in the world since I’m a spoiled American, and I’ve never been in a foxhole).

But I don’t want to live in a world I have created in my head, I want to live in reality, even if we can’t always agree what that reality consists of.

I recognize that King had to kick his habit and this kind of belief helped him out of the addictive nightmare he was in, so I’m glad for it.  And essentially, I just used his statement to spew about an issue that is important to me, so I am sorry for that. There is no problem with someone just choosing to believe and not wanting all the bullshit that goes with it.

But on choosing to believe, we’ll have to agree to disagree.  🙂

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Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

As a huge Stephen King fan, I was thrilled when I recently found out that he developed a musical with John Mellencamp called “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County”.  If only I could have seen it when it ran in 2013.  In a recent interview with Rolling Stone he said that he was still working on it, so maybe I can still have hope.

Here is a YouTube video that explains the collaboration pretty well.

But even if you don’t watch that, you’ve got to listen to this awesome song by Elvis Costello, the best of the songs on the musical’s album.

 

 

Stephen King Snobbery

Stephen King Caricature by Esnesto Priego
Stephen King Caricature by Esnesto Priego

Stephen King is a phenomenal writer and storyteller.  But for some reason he is not held in high regard in the literary world.  Fellow avid book readers oftentime seem to discount him, to consider him to be a sort of pulp fiction writer.  I find this bothersome.  His works are certainly page-turners but many people who think he’s simply a pulp fiction writer are not very familiar with his books.  They may have read It when they were teenagers and saw Carrie and Christine, placed him in the category of popular fiction, and then done what we all are guilty of, closed their minds to the topic.

Rolling Stone published an interview with him recently in which he and Andy Greene discussed this issue:

“[Andy Greene:] By writing horror novels, you entered one of the least respected genres of fiction.

[Stephen King:] Yeah. It’s one of the genres that live across the tracks in the literary community, but what could I do? That’s where I was drawn. I love D.H. Lawrence. And James Dickey’s poetry, Émile Zola, Steinbeck . . . Fitzgerald, not so much. Hemingway, not at all. Hemingway sucks, basically. If people like that, terrific. But if I set out to write that way, what would’ve come out would’ve been hollow and lifeless because it wasn’t me. And I have to say this: To a degree, I have elevated the horror genre.

Few would argue with that.

It’s more respected now. I’ve spoken out my whole life against the idea of simply dismissing whole areas of fiction by saying its “genre” and therefore can’t be seen as literature. I’m not trying to be conceited or anything. Raymond Chandler elevated the detective genre. People who have done wonderful work really blur the line.

A lot of critics were pretty brutal to you when you were starting out.

Early in my career, The Village Voice did a caricature of me that hurts even today when I think about it. It was a picture of me eating money. I had this big, bloated face. It was this assumption that if fiction was selling a lot of copies, it was bad. If something is accessible to a lot of people, it’s got to be dumb because most people are dumb. And that’s elitist. I don’t buy it.

But that attitude continues to this day. Literary critic Harold Bloom viciously ripped into you when you won the National Book Award about 10 years ago.

Bloom never pissed me off because there are critics out there, and he’s one of them, who take their ignorance about popular culture as a badge of intellectual prowess. He might be able to say that Mark Twain is a great writer, but it’s impossible for him to say that there’s a direct line of descent from, say, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Jim Thompson because he doesn’t read guys like Thompson. He just thinks, “I never read him, but I know he’s terrible.”

Michiko Kakutani, who writes reviews for The New York Times, is the same way. She’ll review a book like David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, which is one of the best novels of the year. It’s as good as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, has the same kind of deep literary resonance. But because it has elements of fantasy and science fiction, Kakutani doesn’t want to understand it. In that sense, Bloom and Kakutani and a number of gray eminences in literary criticism are like children who say, “I can’t possibly eat this meal because the different kinds of food are touching on the plate!”

Film critics can look at a popular movie like Jaws and heap praise upon it, then in another section of the paper, the critics will bash you for The Stand.

By its very nature, film is supposed to be an accessible medium to everybody. Let’s face it, you can take a fucking illiterate to Jaws and he can understand what’s going on. I don’t know who the Harold Bloom of the film world is, but if you found someone like that and said to him, “Compare Jaws with 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut,” he’d just laugh and say, “Well, Jaws is a piece of crappy, popular entertainment, but 400 Blows is cinema.” It’s the same elitism.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031#ixzz3Hxq0qXQW