One of the books I've been working my way through so far this summer is Jameson's Signatures of the Visible
, his book on film, which is brilliant, of course. I found what's probably my favorite essay from the book online, on Kubrick in general and The Shining
in particular (written in 1981). Here's a taste:
If you believe that such production must always presuppose the sustaining existence, behind it, of a community (whether identified or not, whether conscious of itself or on the contrary about to achieve such consciousness by means of the very cultural expression which testifies, ex post facto, to its having been there in the first place), then it is clear why "Jack" has nothing to say: even the family unit of which he is a part has been reduced to a kind of stark isolation, the coexistence of three random individuals who henceforth represent nothing beyond themselves, and those very relations with each other thus called (violently) in question. Meanwhile, whatever possibility this particular family might have had, in the social space of the city, of developing some collective solidarity with other people of similar marginalized circumstances is henceforth itself foreclosed by the absolute isolation of the great hotel in winter. Only the telepathic fellow ship of the child, as it strikes a link with the motif of the black community, offers some fantasmatic figure or larger social relation ships.
It is however precisely in such a situation that the drive towards community, the longing for collectivity, the envy of other, achieved collectivities, emerges with all force of a return of the repressed: and this is finally, I think, what The Shining is all about. Where to search for this "knowable community," to which, even excluded, the fantasy of collective relations might attach itself? It is surely not to be found in the managerial bureaucracy of the hotel itself, as multinational and standardized as a bedroom community or a motel chain; nor can it any longer take seriously the departing vacationers of the current holiday season, on their way home to their own privatized dwelling places. It only has one direction to go, into the past; and this is the moment at which Kubrick's rewriting of his novelistic original takes on its power as an articulated and intelligible symbolic act.
(Thanks to the Kubrick Site
for putting this up)