Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King (2020 Edition)

I read The Stand * Stephen King ages ago. And then read the graphic novels. And at the start of this year, with everything going on, I decided to read it again. And I know why I liked it so much the first time around – perfectly summarized by Stephen King’s own words:

Much of the compulsive, driven feeling I had while I worked on The Stand came from the vicarious thrill of imagining an entire entrenched social order destroyed in one stroke.”

Below you can find my favourite quotes from the book and a trailer for 2020’s new show set to air on CBS from the 3rd of January 2021

Why I loved this book? The interpersonal relationships and the talks they have can range from money to the freedom of choice when it comes to abortions. I loved the talk that Fran’s dad gave her when she was considering whether to keep the surprise baby she had.

The pro-life talk

“I think it’s infanticide, pure and simple. I’m sorry to say so, to be so… inflexible, set, whatever it is I’m being… about something which you now have to consider, if only because the law says you may consider it. I told you I was an old man.” […]

Your mother would argue against it for all the standard reasons. Morality, she’d say. A morality that goes back two thousand years. The right to life. All our Western morality is based on that idea. I’ve read the philosophers. I range up and down them like a housewife with a dividend check in the Sears and Roebuck store. Your mother sticks with the Reader’s Digest , but it’s me that ends up steel table, so what? The end of a life is never pretty. I just see Fred, lying in that bed for seven days, everything that was ruined pasted over with bandages. Life is cheap, abortion makes it cheaper. I read more than she does, but she is the one who ends up making more sense on this one. What we do and what we think… those things are so often based on arbitrary judgments when they are right. I can’t get over that. It’s like a block in my throat, how all true logic seems to proceed from irrationality. From faith. I’m not making much sense, am I?”

The Spread of a Virus

He had a slight cold, an allergy cold, maybe, and he kept sneezing and having to spit. In the course of the meal he infected Babe, the dishwasher, two truckers in a corner booth, the man who came in to deliver bread, and the man who came in to change the records on the juke. He left the sweet thang that waited his table a dollar tip that was crawling with death.

On his way out, a station wagon pulled in. There was a roofrack on top, and the wagon was piled high with kids and luggage. The wagon had New York plates and the driver, who rolled down his window to ask Harry how to get to US 21 going north, had a New York accent. Harry gave the New York fellow very clear directions on how to get to Highway 21. He also served him and his entire family their death-warrants without even knowing it.

The Doctors who are unable to find a cure or a reason

“So where are we tonight? We’ve got a disease that’s got several well-defined stages… but some people may skip a stage. Some people may backtrack a stage. Some people may do both. Some people stay in one stage for a relatively long time and others zoom through all four as if they were on a rocket-sled. One of our two ‘clean’ subjects is no longer clean. The other is a thirty-year-old redneck who seems to be as healthy as I am.

Denninger has done about thirty million tests on him and has succeeded in isolating only four abnormalities: Redman appears to have a great many moles on his body. He has a slight hypertensive condition, too slight to medicate right now. He develops a mild tic under his left eye when he’s under stress. And Denninger says he dreams a great deal more than average—almost all night, every night. They got that from the standard EEG series they ran before he went on strike. And that’s it.

“This scares me, Starkey. It scares me because nobody but a very smart doctor with all the facts is going to be able to diagnose anything but a common cold in the people who are out there carrying this. Christ, nobody goes to the doctor anymore unless they’ve got pneumonia or a suspicious lump on the tit or a bad case of the dancing hives. Too hard to get one to look at you. So they’re going to stay home, drink fluids and get plenty of bedrest, and then they’re going to die. Before they do, they’re going to infect everyone who comes into the same room with them. [..] Those sonsofbitches out in California did this job a little too well for my taste.

The Symptoms which very much resemble our current pandemic

“Chills. Fever. Headache. Weakness and general debilitation. Loss of appetite. Painful urination. Swelling of the glands, progressing from minor to acute. Swelling in the armpits and in the groin. Respiratory weakness and failure.” He looked at Nick.

“They are the symptoms of the common cold, of influenza, of pneumonia. We can cure all of those things, Nick. Unless the patient is very young or very old, or perhaps already weakened by a previous illness, antibiotics will knock them out. But not this. It comes on the patient quickly or slowly. It doesn’t seem to matter. Nothing helps. The thing escalates, backs up, escalates again; debilitation increases; the swelling gets worse; finally, death.

[…]

The “superflu epidemic,” as it was now being called, was the lead story, but the newscasters on both stations said it was being brought under control. A flu vaccine had been developed at the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control, and you could get a shot from your, doctor by early the following week. Outbreaks were reportedly serious in New York, San Francisco, L.A., and London, but all were being contained. In some areas, the newscaster went on, public gatherings had been canceled temporarily. […] The newscaster concluded by saying that travel to most of the large city areas was still restricted, but the restrictions would be lifted as soon as the vaccine was in general release. He then went on to a plane crash in Michigan and some congressional reactions to the latest Supreme Court gay-rights decision.

[…]

Boston General Hospital. Wards were crammed. Patients lay on the floors. The halls were full; nurses, many of them obviously sick themselves, wove in and out, some of them weeping hysterically. Others looked shocked to the point of coma.

The philosophy as to what might have caused it (Humans being the first accused)

“I was prejudiced against the world,” Bateman said. “I admit that freely. The world in the last quarter of the twentieth century had, for me at least, all the charm of an eighty-year-old man dying of cancer of the colon. They say it’s a malaise which has struck all Western peoples as the century—any century—draws to a close. We have always wrapped ourselves in mourning shrouds and gone around crying woe to thee, O Jerusalem… or Cleveland, as the case may be. The dancing sickness took place during the latter part of the fifteenth century. Bubonic plague—the black death—decimated Europe near the end of the fourteenth. Whooping cough near the end of the seventeenth, and the first known outbreaks of influenza near the end of the nineteenth. We’ve become so used to the idea of the flu—it seems almost like the common cold to us, doesn’t it?—that no one but the historians seems to know that a hundred years ago it didn’t exist .

[…]

The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance… or change. Once such incantatory phrases as “we see now through a glass darkly” and “mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform” are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose.

Mother Abigail

Man, I loved this woman. Simple yet so wise.

She reckoned that anyone, looking back over her life, could pick out one year and say, “That was the best.” It seemed that, for everyone, there was one spell of seasons when everything came together, smooth and glorious and full of wonder. It was only later on that you might wonder why it had happened that way. It was like putting ten different savory things in the cold-pantry all at once, so each took on a bit of the others’ flavors; the mushrooms had a taste of ham and the ham of mushrooms; the venison had the slightest wild taste of partridge and the partridge had the tiniest hint of cucumbers. Later on in life, you might wish that the good things which all befell in your one special year had spread themselves out a little more, that you could maybe take one of the golden things and kind of transplant it right down in the middle of a three-year stretch you couldn’t remember a blessed good thing about, or even a bad one, and so you knew that things had just gone on the way they were supposed to in the world God had created and Adam and Eve had half uncreated—the washing had gone out, the floors had been scrubbed, the babies had been cared for, the clothes had been mended; three years with nothing to break up the gray even flow of time but Easter and the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving and Christmas. But there was no answering the ways God set about His wonders to perform, and for Abby Freemantle as well as her father, ‘02 had been a topper.

Now if you want to throw your tomatas or whatever, you go on and do it. I played and sang my best, and I was real fine

Oh my people, if you are thirsty, will I not bring water from the rock? I will win them over, and I will make David proud of me and Mamma and Daddy proud of me, I will make myself proud of myself, I will bring music from the air and water from the rock

“I started having dreams two years before this plague ever fell. I’ve always dreamed, and sometimes my dreams have come true. Prophecy is the gift of God and everyone has a smidge of it. My own grandmother used to call it the shining lamp of God, sometimes just the shine. In my dreams I saw myself going west.