Monday, February 8, 2016

"The Shining" and its connection to Sri Lanka

This is an excerpt from my novel of Sri Lanka, "The Longest Tweet." Here I explore the connections between slow realization and fast-breaking reality. What happened here?


"The Shining" and it's connection to Sri Lanka 

In "The Shining" we see Jack Nicholson as he slides into insanity, an insanity that may have been there all along, or which might brought on or even exacerbated by his troubled spirit being situated, as it was in previous lives, on an Indian burial ground. His descent into depravity is linear if not particularly gradual, and the depths to which he falls are the fascinating part. He is willing, driven to kill his son whose spirit "shines" in apposition to Nicholson's. Another source of amazement is that Shelley Duvall's realization is so late, when her husband has already gone down the path of insanity and reached a point of no return. It's her naiveté in the face of our knowledge of her husband's condition that provides another line of horror and amazement. 

I landed in Sri Lanka a little bit like Jack Nicholson and a bit like Shelley Duvall. I "landed" where I truly wanted to be-where I truly felt comfortable, as Nicholson does in his role as "caretaker." And like Duvall my doe-eyed naïveté kept me from realizing the larger picture until what I consider fairly late in the game, almost five months into my fifth visit to Sri Lanka. Why did it take me so long to "see?" When was the rug pulled from my eyes? When was the rug torn from my head? When was the rug pulled out from under me? 

Rug might be an apt cognate for the tanks, which stretch like a liquidy carpet through a magnificent countryside. One tank in Kotte, a once and future capital of Sri Lanka, was compared to a woman's flowing dress by a certain Sinhalese poet.  Tanks are a cultural centerpiece of this country. They have captured the imagination of many poets, philosophers, and even the producer of a recent music video extolling President Sirisena.  

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