26 thoughts on “The Institute – Stephen King


    Pages 1 – 24

    “The room’s one picture – an unsettling composition depicting a sailing ship crewed entirely by grinning and possibly homicidal black men – hung crooked.”

    As we follow Tim from motel to motel, instead of flying, taking fate at face value, we learn of his backstory or what he tells others about it, as well as based on the research of those others, too. But what is a Night Knocker? The world and and its wife need to know.

  2. —> Page 35

    “, this life we think we’re living isn’t real. It’s just a shadow play, and I for one will be glad when the lights go out on it. In the dark, all the shadows disappear.”

    As a Night Knocker not in a hurry, Tim meets the people up and about in the small hours. And the incidents thenabouts, and the help he can give those folk. Interstitial people, I might call them, even if this book doesn’t.


    “I don’t know how an abyss can be full —“

    Amazing material about a 12 year old boy called Luke, to whose character and circumstances we grow page-turningly accustomed, including his super-ratiocination as a child prodigy, his humble parents, the plans for him until he is taken away by this book, a book and its characters as Institute, that replicates his room, but with newer if otherwise identical accoutrements, a house and family whence he has been kidnapped.
    There is a certain budding sexuality here, too, with Luke, and with remarkable coincidence I happened to be exposed last night to the Agnes Varda film “Le Petit Amour” (aka Kung-Fu Master!) — and this very morning, I seemed to pick two almost random references, from a Heuvelt story here, one to ‘williwags’ of which I had never before heard and the other of ‘wiggling hands in pockets’. In this section of the King, together on a single page, are “Way up in the williwags” and “She wriggled her hand into the pocket of her pants…”
    Perhaps I am a smart old man prodigy!?

  4. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

  5. Pingback: In the williwags | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS


    —> Page 85

    “No, I can’t even wiggle my ears.”

    Patience is needed, as we gradually learn more about this sinisterly close-ordered Institute, our garnering its gestalt piecemeal, as I do, too, by remarkable chance happenstance, by dint of another book I am concurrently reading here, another institute of youngsters that we are gradually learning about and their situation, an interesting complementary contrast of prodigies in the King being surveilled (“They’re like missionaries selling a Jesus to a bunch of Indians…”) versus Litt’s differently sick children under the more direct gaze of God via the sorority of Sisters. Here in the King, too, one of the girls blowing “a long bubbly honk” and later spitting… Here, today, too, we learn more about Luke’s situation, the levels (Pos- or Pinks) of telepathy and telekinesis (TP and TK), weird eye tests, the bugs or “minges”, the buzz of booze control, the various characters and their potential ‘canoodling’… and the slow build up of chess games, some that finish earlier than expected. And not forgetting the clutch of names on page 72: Ellis, Iles, Kalisha, Iris, Adonis…

  7. —> Page 106

    “As, always, each piece of information led to three more (or six, or twelve), and eventually, a coherent picture began to emerge. A kind of terrain map.”

    I can’t tell you what the precocious 12 year old called Luke gradually discovered about this press-gang situation at this book’s inner Institute, what he learns about its perceived motives, the varying natures of the people in charge or just working there, the other child prodigies, their encouragement techniques of tokens and slaps, the dots to see, the Front Half and the progression to the Back Half, and much more. Each reader needs to allow the growing gestalt of the situation to dawn on them gradually in real-time without me telling them first. Like Luke’s room at the Institute when compared to the room back at his home, the book itself might not be quite the same as the book I am reading when compared to the book you are reading. What is more, I myself might not be reliable. Just as one trial example, the “hospital corners” entailed when helping to make beds: please do check to see if you have them written about in your version of the book.


    —> Page 126

    Young Luke demeaned through buttock-interstitial invasive temperature-taking by staff despite the more dignified technical facilities otherwise available at the Institute, not to put too fine a point on it, that the British call ‘buggered’. Like, Brexit, I infer — within the tunnel today in my own real-time. Also later being touched high on his thigh by a girl co-inmate!
    Feeling homesick, too. Thoughts of Popeye the Salior Man. A genius boy like Luke with such past trivial enthusiasms. Now transcending the Institute-restricted web portals via HG Wells’ Invisible (Interstitial?) Man. News of Trump and North Korea. TP as Telepathy or Tommy Pickles or ‘teacher’s pet’ or Thumper? A Dr Hendricks here to match the painter Hendrick in ‘Sight Unseen’: a novel concurrently being real-time reviewed here. Avery is the name of a new boy at the Institute who is younger than Luke, and who wets himself upon first awaking to his incarceration within the Institute as this book as well the Institute itself.

  9. —> Page 149

    “New Kid began to make ‘urk-urk’ noises, his considerable belly heaving.”

    DEBTS AND DOTS, for me to read about in this section of pages. Each dot, if not each debt, for Luke, that do “bloom bigger than the last: ‘bwoosh’ out and ‘zip’ back in, ‘bwoosh’ and ‘zip’. They were going 3-D,…”

    “No regret. Zero empathy. Nothing. Luke realized he wasn’t a child at all to her. She had made some crucial separation in her mind. He was a test subject.”

  10. —> Page 176

    Tests galore, MRI and telepathic, and dark discoveries, of those “slain”, on the web, for Luke. Mr Griffin — HG Wells’ Invisible Man — as the Internet’s back door … also to the “back half of Back Half”? See today’s chance real-time review of Rasnic Tem’s INVISIBLE earlier today here.

    “Luke thought about asking if George had gone on seeing the dots after the projector was off.” See SIGHT UNSEEN earlier today here.

    “‘fine as paint.’ Whatever that meant.”

    “They’re OxyContin.” The Opioid used in QUICHOTTE here. A recent review.

    “…a good example of how telepathy was all wrong. You knew way too much, and way too soon.” Think about it. No age limiting certificates for telepathy!

    “…back to his books. Because there was an abyss, and books contained magical incantations to raise what was hidden there:” — and don’t I know it!!


    —> Page 198

    Tests, dolls, debts, dots and shots. And strange telepathic reports of those now in the Back Half watching cartoons and other films, and unlit sparklers. A bit like a book where the second half (as yet not reached) lacks the sparkle of the first half? Luke is now an old timer in the Front Half (despite still being 12, I think) — and he experiences scenes of two other kids having seizures or simply dying like a broken rag doll. Droning, too. Psychic droning? Or just bees buzzing? I think this book is coming clearer in my mind. This Institute, a Mann sanatorium from Magic Mountain, a Ishiguro Never Let Me Go sort of place, a Toby Litt Patience religious place for catholic cripples, a Poe Tarr & Fether, “an old-time mental asylum where the crazy people were just kept and never cured”, or a place where madnesses or high sensitivities / skills are being weaponised? Who is spying on whom. Where, oh where, is my own Ice Machine dead-surveillance area in my head to prevent anyone spying on the plot spoilers there? My “inertial glide”, notwithstanding. (I mentioned droning, but I think I got away with it, as nobody is reading this, hidden away as it is as part of the attrition of actually reading this book, let alone anybody actually bothering to follow a real-time review of it like this is!)

    “‘She looked like a doll,’ Luke heard himself say. ‘She looked like her own doll.’”

  12. —> Page 217

    “, doing lackadaisical seat-drops and tummy-bounces”

    The Institute, if not the book that contains it, is in lackadaisical entropy with decrepit fixtures and fittings. Hey, come to my Ice Machine surveillance area, and I’ll tell you plot spoilers galore, for example that Luke has already escaped from this book despite having only six hairs on his balls, after being dunked in a tank to prove by default that he is not a telepath; still, you know all that already. And you know the ending before I do as I have not yet read that far. Some of you already know how it ends BEFORE reading that far! You’re already in the Back Half at least in spirit. Meanwhile, for me, dots and debts, and now doubts.

  13. —> Page 242

    “, a balls-to-the-wall train freak.”

    And in this constructively but relentlessly attritional section of Luke’s rite of extramural passage towards or actually already IN the Back Half, as at least part of me assumes here he is to be, digging with ice machine info-scoop curves or grooves under wire fences, unlike the autonomous grooves of rivers, and Luke creating the Platonic Form of Van Gogh’s Earlobe, after the seat-drops and tummy-bounces, towards what turns out, by premeditated default, to be the land of the Night Knocker of which I had almost forgotten. The talisman of the scarf, notwithstanding. The ready boat ride, too. And the onward relentlessness of physical train engines pin pullers hard cargo near misses of discovery trundling trugging twitchy stretchy time tracks hard runnels sleep tunnels of metal and bone shaking…


    —> Page 272

    “There are tons of beans in Beantown”

    Cetra-cetra, and even – or especially? – a reader like me has that sort of queasy madness, too, as we readers also reach some sort of back half, what shall I call it? An utilitarian entropy, a sloppiness, as if this Institute is even less dependable or kept up to scratch than that in Poe’s Tarr and Fether or in John Cowper Powys’ The Inmates, and Mrs Thigsby what can I say about her? The Zero Phone is a version of this hub of gestalt real-time reviewing, taking on its madness? She sits at her desk staring into space just like the headmistress in Hanging Rock. One of her pupils gone awol, one sandwich short of a picnic. A short way via this back half to approach death with equanimity. And Shirley Temple was NEVER ‘cute’, by the way.

    “No matter what they do to us with those lights and those goddam movies, I have to hold on. I have to hold on to my mind.”

  15. —> Page 304

    “, you keep climbing higher and higher on the assumption tree, and each branch is thinner than the last.”

    It’s good to follow a whodunnit story or whereishegoing story when knowing the answer that only you know. And when those in the story know less than you. They are assuming, but you know. Even the storyteller, you tell yourself, knows less than you by dint of the gestalt real-time reviewing that you are doing, something you are doing beyond any literary theory of Intentional Fallacy. Here, in which train cargo truck you are sitting listening to what is going on in another. The doughnut crumbs, notwithstanding, with the shit-splat of a place where you will get off, being willed or at least prayed into being, to become one different from the place where those who are trying to follow your journey think this place will be, with you, meanwhile, willing or praying into being another place by some different plot your own fugitive journey-track is actually taking. Characters put in place accordingly. Right from the very start one character was ready-made to end up being someone you would meet at journey’s end. Books do not change between readings. They are cast permanently in changeless print. Except some books, especially books by King. King books have the beauty of being subject to both a fixed destiny and fluid free will in the process of reading them in real-time.


    —> Page 330

    “Everything was important now.”

    “, where a double-locked door beyond the caretakers’ break room led to the back half of Back Half. The caretakers often called that part Gorky Park, because the kids who lived there (if you could call it living) were gorks. Hummers.”

    Hummers are Here and Now. I knew if I waited with Patience they would appear Here as well as There. Meanwhile, we are presented with an alternating of Luke’s story and Avery’s story now. Both in their own version of Back Half, I guess. Intrigued that their previous rooms at home are refabricated here – but not quite, as with the Lego castle in Avery’s case. Tim’s story, too. Did I mention that Tim was his name when he started work at the beginning as a Night Knocker? I can’t remember unless I look back towards the Front Half of this review. And why do the movies the kids are shown in the Institute’s Back Half hurt? What is this “headache-sponge”? Something hat I need to transcend as a reader of this book? ‘Tarr and Fether’ crop up in my mind again as I think of us readers needing somehow to pre-empt this book, and, indeed, one of its characters now slips in this warning to us: “If wcan’t escape, we have to take the place over.”

    “I see the pieces, but I don’t know how to put them together, I don’t . . .” (The book’s ellipsis, not mine.)

  17. —> Page 355

    “The residents of Back Half – the front half of Back Half, that was; the eighteen currently in Gorky Park remained behind their locked door, humming away —“

    Talk of more and more humming eventually towards a “white-noise roar”, and now talk of “united mental force, a kind of Vulcan mind meld,” which brings to my own mind meld a magical alliance of fiction as well as, now, of truth — as all truth and fiction are part of each other, one creating the other, and vice versa, in this world today. A mutual synergy for good or ill. As I sense the child inmates being brainwashed with Bibles and Preacherman du Pray tropes in a movie shown in the Back Half, a slow withdrawal of any mind meld, by attacking the individual minds that constitute it by means of headache-sponging and more dots. Luke feels this mind meld in his own one-horse town with ‘pray’ in its name, where he is being questioned. Meanwhile, the sparkler lit or unlit. The levers, and the fate of Avery. As an aside, I do recall the game of HORSE earlier at the Institute, but so far I can’t yet find reference to it by riffling through the preceding pages. If this were an ebook I could have searched for HORSE. Perhaps even hard print books can be retroactively airbrushed?

  18. —> Page 380

    “Telepathy always sounded great in stories and movies, but it was annoying as fuck in real life. It came with the hum, which was a drawback.”

    “The heart of the hum.” There is no escape from anywhere or anyone, even for the readers of this book, as they become part of this mutiny. Attack on all of us for giving our children such short shrift in life. Luke is there, too, effectively, not only via Maureen’s nightmarish filming of the weird undersea look of Gorky Park on the computer stick. But also he is still there by some of them having come to get him! But, most of all, Luke is still there via real-time gestalt telepathy, the short circuits of fiction being a part of that process. ‘Riding the hum’, as well as riding the Horse or Houyhnhnm. Feedback hums, tasers and torture. The only way to feel the full effect of such two-ways filters of fiction is to get truly involved with a book via gestalt real-time reviewing it — a mutual, sometimes antagonistic, synergy. But who wins? The book or yourself? This is King, not only prime and vintage King, but also OFF THE WALL KING! Madness instilled into the back half of the back half of his mind, and thus of your mind, too.

    “Just because their bodies are locked up, that doesn’t mean their minds are.”

  19. —> Page 404

    “The children of the Institute called out to Luke.”

    “…like watching an underwater ballet.”

    “Did they send an army for one little boy?”

    “Keeping the world safe for democracy was secondary. Keeping it safe full stop was primary.”

    By the art of ends justifying the means, and the new normal, we are all now stuck “in the tunnel between Back Half and Front Half.” Chased there by zealots. But we are polarised zealots, too. This book is catharsis, I hope. The battle won in these action scenes of gunfire as an irresistible gestalt meets an as yet immovable gestalt. All those kids of ours gone missing who we did not really realise till now had gone missing, at least partially explained if not yet avenged. Explained by this metaphor of fiction made real as if by communal magic. An alliance of fiction.


    —> Page 443

    “They kissed in the hum.”

    The Big Phone. The Zero Phone, too. The overall boss man lisping through the latter and he calls the underboss woman Thigsby as I mentioned somewhere above. The Big Phone is part of the absurdist dream of the child inmates, gorks or otherwise, mingled with approximations to their own abodes back home. A group power as well as tourettes spasm saying ya-ya-ya-ya. Humming growing louder, fears of being gassed, as rival forces approach. Luke alone, or Avery alone, nothing would have happened — but together they become a ‘synchronicity’ and surely part of our ‘emoluments’ as readers? “A mind race instead of an arms race,” Mutiny as virus especially in our Information Age, the big phone now bigger. Bigger version of that in Luke’s childhood home. And getting bigger. Towards biggest. A bit like my own blower inside the skull? Night knocking inside, even in daylight. The hum cycled up, and I still have no proof whether the kids used to play something called HORSE. Tim’s impulse journey from the start. Only madness can create such mind-affecting synchronicities from fiction, I suggest. Talking to the far-away kids. Important question of mutual synergy: ‘Children’s Crusade’ (1896) by Marcel Schwob (my review: https://zencore2007.wordpress.com/374-2/#comment-662). A global revolt.

  21. —> Page 482

    “The hum had reached a new deafening level.”

    A dialling tone or simply the world unbalancing? About to reach tipping-point. A children’s crusade as they join hands like books of fiction also do, with not only telepathy and telekinesis, but also precognition. But other forces, too, some disguised as history’s ends and means. Even Nazis lisp. Mindquake. Everything was coming apart. The plot’s outcome is both sad and satisfyingly provocative, too, and balanced between its own ends and means. Suicide watch. Probability studies. “…the world running downhill like a kid’s jalopy with no hand to guide it.”
    What I claim I can do is not remotely moving pizza pans but distantly fluttering book pages. I want an Avester T shirt. “…but right now I’m in the williwags.”

    “These chirrun are reading your mind. Tickles, don’t it?”


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