Watching THE SHINING again this past weekend, in my local theater, it really hit home with me how much of a factor isolation plays in the narrative. Had he not been cut off from civilization, it’s doubtful Jack Torrance would have been so susceptible to the Overlook’s influence. It’s doubtful that he would have snapped. I’ve also just finished rereading the Algernon Blackwood story “The Wendigo” (I’m drafting an adaptation of the story for the stage) and the parallels, with all the themes of the story still fresh in my mind, are really evident. In the story, the character, Defago, also proves susceptible to the spell cast on him by the wilderness and the Wendigo. And Defago is, like Jack Torrance, isolated, largely cut off from the company of humanity.
I understand the phenomenon they call “cabin fever”, which has been blamed, along with deprivation and starvation, for instances of “Wendigo psychosis”. I’ve experienced it myself, in small doses. As a little boy I loved when we’d have snowstorms. A rare occurrence in the Deep South, it meant we got out of school for a few days. As an adult, though, I hate when it happens. I hate being stuck inside. I start to get antsy almost immediately. To be trapped in that situation for months on end, I can well imagine, could lead to me going a little batty. Especially if the place where I was hunkered down was an extremely haunted one.