Just Another Day…

Today is June 19th.

Well, duh.  Water is wet, the sun sets in the west…all that good stuff.  Its just another day for most…

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Well, except if you are an avid reader of this blog (yeah, avid…work with me here, ok?)

And you guys know who you are…

Mention a certain number between 18 and 20…do I have your attention?

Mar Barses?  Got your attention, huh?

Or you really like roses.  Or maybe its turtles that you really like.  Or…well, I could go on and on, actually…

Rose

So in case it wasn’t clear yet, I am talking about a certain niche fan base…

Yes, fans of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  The rest of the world may not know who we are, but we recognize each other at first sight.  Maybe you have a Dark Tower related t-shirt that you wear sometimes.  Or maybe you have a Dark Tower related tattoo.  The rest of the world will either ignore the shirt (at worst), or make a comment in passing (at best).

But we know who we are.  And our obsession may be odd to most (you know, like devoting a blog almost entirely to Stephen King and his magnum opus…who does that?), but finding others who share our obsession is priceless, and something that not even MasterCard can buy!

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And we are one devoted fan base.  In fact, there is a particular number that is almost reverential in the world of The Dark Tower series…

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Yes, the number 19.  Its pretty significant to the series as a whole, for some reason…

Seems that the master suffered a bad accident on June 19th, 1999.  Stephen King went out one day for a walk, and nearly came back home in a body bag.

And this accident had a big effect.  It affected not just King and his family, but this Constant Readers as well.  See, King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower, was unfinished at the time of the accident.  And many feared that it would remain unfinished.  Fortunately, that is not the case, as Sai King made what can only be called a miraculous recovery, and churned out the last three books of the series over the next few years, and is still writing new books to this day, and is probably even writing a new book as we speak.

But this accident was a big thing.  And its effect on Sai King was enormous.  It inspired him to finish the Dark Tower series (a terrible thing to be an inspiration, but an inspiration, nonetheless).  In fact, the accident became a major plot point in the series…

Yes, King wrote his own accident into his books.  And…gasp…he even incorporated himself into the series!

Stephen King is a character in the Dark Tower series.  And his accident is a plot point.  A major plot point, in fact.  An this has been controversial, to say the least…

In talking to some other fans who have read the series, some have got this impression upon reading about the character of Stephen King and how his accident had the ability to affect the existence of our universe and all of the other universes contained in the multi-verse:

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Well, its a metaphor, at any rate…

Many think that King including himself in his series was arrogant, or simply ridiculous.  And having his own character rescue him and give his life for him?  Crazy, right?

Well, no.  I don’t think that King’s inclusion of himself in his series was arrogant, nor do I think that King being rescued by his characters is crazy.  In fact, this could not be further from the truth.

When Sai King was hit by that van, we nearly lost one of the greatest writers that this world has ever known.  To boot, this great writer is purely American as well, and is responsible for the invention of the modern horror tale.  HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe were great writers, but King was able to take the horror story, and make it into something readers could relate to.  Salem’s Lot was the first modern vampire tale.  And then there is The Shining, the first modern ghost story.  Jack Torrance may be one of the most famous villains in any story or movie, but who hasn’t felt like him at some point in his/her life, struggling to provide for family, and wanting to do the best he/she could for the ones that mattered the most?  And that is what makes that particular novel so frightening:  the setting (an isolated hotel) and the themes (family, addiction, domestic abuse, etc) are so realistic and reel in the reader, so it is not so difficult to believe that there may be ghosts around the corner and that fire hoses could actually come to life and attack us, and that if we are smart, we won’t look over our shoulder, and instead we will make a mad dash down the hall, and dive into the bed, under the covers, into what we hope is relative safety?

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And then there are the Dark Tower books.  To paraphrase King himself, the Jupiter of his solar system, or his greatest work.  And these are the books that contain all of King’s other works.  In other words, everything in King’s universe is connected, from the crazy obsessed fan girl who hobbles her favorite writer, to the gang of kids who battles the evil clown in the sewers, to the gunslingers who strive to protect the Tower itself, the nexus of all existence.

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The thought of the series not being finished must have been on King’s mind, and must have been a frightening one.  In fact, he may have felt that he was letting someone down.  His fans.  Or maybe his characters, actually…

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Yes, his characters.  If something happened to Stephen King, how would Roland continue his quest?  The quest that originated from the mind and heart of King himself…

Some say that we all write our own stories.  The Dark Tower series was a big part of King’s own story, as he had spent so many years writing it, and incorporating it into his other works.  The Tower was a part of King, and King was a part of the Tower.  So it would make sense that he felt the need to include himself in the story, as it was (and still is) so intertwined with his life.  Often reality and fiction blur, and King’s inclusion of himself in his books is a great example of this.

As an artist myself (I dabble in writing, drawing and painting), I can tell you that my art has saved me many times.  I have gone through divorce, job loss and many other stressful life events, and my art was the one constant in my life, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it.  And I am sure that this is true for King as well:  his art has kept him grounded, and the thought of finishing his magnum opus, the Dark Tower series, may have played a part in his recovery.  In other words, he was saved by the characters he created, and what better way to pay homage to that lovely idea than to include it as a plot point in the Dark Tower series?

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In the world of Dark Tower fan-dom, “going 19” is a phrase used to describe a situation where everything is going wrong and things are FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair for the uninitiated).  It is used in a somewhat joking manner, but many take this somewhat literally.  But to me, that phrase could not be more wrong.

To me, 19 is a number that is a symbol of hope.  On a day that many would describe as “just another day”, we nearly lost one of the greatest writers this world has ever seen.  However, whether by sheer luck, sheer determination or possibly even the intervention of some other force, this writer continued to live.  And he was able to finish his magnum opus, and provide us with a series of books that has united people, sparked some lively debate and has provided countless hours of joy and entertainment to so many Constant Readers.

And I will end this post with a quote from another inhabitant of the Stephen King universe.  I can’t think of a more appropriate quote to sum up my feelings on this day:

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2 thoughts on “Just Another Day…

  1. On 19, June 1999, Stephen King was hit by a min van and nearly died of, remember always there are other worlds than these *smile*

    Like

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