In Stanley Kubrick’s much-deconstructed ur-horror film The Shining (1980), conclusive evidence of protagonist Jack Torrance’s psychopathy appears tucked into the wayward winter caretaker’s typewriter. Upon finding it, his long-suffering wife, Wendy, begins to page through a stack of similar typewritten pages nearby. To her despair, she finds the sheaf of papers previously assumed to contain Torrance’s novel in progress to contain endless repetitions of the same self-mocking maxim: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The phrase is typed in a variety of decorative configurations, as if the writer were struggling to keep himself entertained through a necessary chore, or perhaps tamp down his mania via a peculiar sort of self-flagellation or therapy. The scene is made all the creepier by its economy, a few inert bits of paper and a familiar saying signaling an irreversible
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.