Free Will and Stephen King's Cosmology

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Nikkolas

Member
Feb 10, 2015
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Hello everyone, I just finished reading IT and I'm almost done with The Stand. I love King's writing style and, while The Shining was excellent, IT and The Stand have given me a hankering for King's "big cosmic stuff, tiny little setting." That sounds kinda like what happens in Insomnia and I was thinking of reading that next. That or Eyes of the Dragon. (want more Flagg)

Anyway, I found this article when looking up what to read next
A Reading Guide to the Stephen King Universe

It made me very curious about something.

Are the evil forces, the really evil and powerful forces like IT or Randall Flagg, truly responsible for what they are? I dunno if you know of the site called TVTropes but there they have a trope called Complete Monster. In short, a CM is a character who is beyond heinous and vicious and most of all, is completely responsible for what they do.

IT, Bob Gray, The Spider, Pennywise, seems to be a creature born of evil and malevolence. While IT apparently thought IT was alone in the multiverse apart from the Turtle and IT had no interest in big cosmic matters, these two have apparently been said to be perfect examples of Purpose vs. Random. (Turtle = Purpose, IT = Random) So wouldn't IT count as a fundamental part of existence? IT was made to be that way and didn't have much choice in the matter.

Flagg is more confusing to me. I understand he actually gets a backstory in other books but in The Stand he's very....confused. A lot of the time he doesn't know what he's doing or why. As Mother Abagail called him he was only "the Devil's imp" and was just a tool. That's why I thought he was another of these pawns of evil who doesn't have much say in any of the vile acts he commits.

In IT, the "Other" forces the Losers to do all sorts of things so why can't it be the same for teh bad guys?
 

Walter Oobleck

keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going
Mar 6, 2013
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Are the evil forces, the really evil and powerful forces like IT or Randall Flagg, truly responsible for what they are? I dunno if you know of the site called TV Tropes but there they have a trope called Complete Monster. In short, a CM is a character who is beyond heinous and vicious and most of all, is completely responsible for what they do.

In IT, the "Other" forces the Losers to do all sorts of things so why can't it be the same for the bad guys?
Question of the day, hey? Or the times? I'm going to go with the idea that the good the bad and the ugly have free will and there are forces that try to influence that free will. There's some good stuff in The Stand...like watching lightening strike...bolt comes out of the blue...or the black. We see through the glass darkly. Maybe a better question is why do we make the choices we make, given the opportunity? Do we go along to get along or do we make a stand? And if the forces of evil have a choice, do the forces of good? Curious, the use of the word jittering in The Stand. Applied to Harold...his hand...and to another. Insomnia is a good read, one that looks at the idea of forces. The Green Mile. Really, all of the stories in one way or another, some more than others. Be curious to read your thoughts when you do read more of the stories. Nice to see ya again.
 

Nikkolas

Member
Feb 10, 2015
5
18
30
The Crimson King, correct? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Still, based just on The Stand, Flagg seems very...subservient in a fundamental way, like he has to obey and do whatever. He doesn't understand what he is at the start, he doesn't remember a lot of the stuff he did before the Superflu, he does things over the course of the novel without understanding why he's even doing them....

I dunno though, I think maybe I should read Insomnia or The Eyes of the Dragon first. Then just blitz through all the DT booksin a row.
 

blunthead

Well-Known Member
Aug 2, 2006
80,756
195,391
Atlanta GA
The Crimson King, correct? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Still, based just on The Stand, Flagg seems very...subservient in a fundamental way, like he has to obey and do whatever. He doesn't understand what he is at the start, he doesn't remember a lot of the stuff he did before the Superflu, he does things over the course of the novel without understanding why he's even doing them....

I dunno though, I think maybe I should read Insomnia or The Eyes of the Dragon first. Then just blitz through all the DT booksin a row.
I probably need a Stand reread. I don't recall Flagg seeming confused about himself. To me he represents Ultimate Evil (his Ultimate Boss), in that he is a representative of it, and that by choice.
 
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not_nadine

Comfortably Roont
Nov 19, 2011
29,492
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Behind you
The Crimson King, correct? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Still, based just on The Stand, Flagg seems very...subservient in a fundamental way, like he has to obey and do whatever. He doesn't understand what he is at the start, he doesn't remember a lot of the stuff he did before the Superflu, he does things over the course of the novel without understanding why he's even doing them....

I dunno though, I think maybe I should read Insomnia or The Eyes of the Dragon first. Then just blitz through all the DT booksin a row.
I don't know about The Eyes of the Dragon, but with Insomnia as well many other books - characters and some events just make much more sense after reading The DT series.

Not that they are not enjoyable on their on.
 

Nikkolas

Member
Feb 10, 2015
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It's been a while since I read the beginning of The Stand but as far as I can recall, Flagg's intor chapter was basically "who am I? What am I doing here? Why do I have magic powers?" Then he shrugs, smiles and rolls with it.

Everything Flagg did and everything said about him made it clear he was just a pawn. A very charismatic, a very powerful pawn true but still just a guy - or whatever he is - being moved around by forces he doesn't comprehend or control.
 
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GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
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I probably need a Stand reread. I don't recall Flagg seeming confused about himself. To me he represents Ultimate Evil (his Ultimate Boss), in that he is a representative of it, and that by choice.
...only for a brief time during his reincarnation if you will...
 

Haunted

This is my favorite place
Mar 26, 2008
17,060
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The woods are lovely dark and deep
It's been a while since I read the beginning of The Stand but as far as I can recall, Flagg's intor chapter was basically "who am I? What am I doing here? Why do I have magic powers?" Then he shrugs, smiles and rolls with it.

Everything Flagg did and everything said about him made it clear he was just a pawn. A very charismatic, a very powerful pawn true but still just a guy - or whatever he is - being moved around by forces he doesn't comprehend or control.
I also came away thinking that Flagg was a recycled dark personality plucked and placed by The Evil Entity in yet another scenario to be played out against Good.
 
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