What IT Means (and How *Any* Good Story “Means”)

this thing you’re reading
is going to have
zero jump scares in
three expedient little parts:

1. a micro-review of the
2017 movie?IT

2. mini-musing on the
meaning of IT

3. more mini-musing on
how *any* good story
“means” in a similar way

so, here we go…

IT Reviewed

you know what IT was?

super good, i thought

it made great use of
the superb,
monstrously mineable
source novel
(by the by-now-legendary
Stephen King);
captured that novel’s
unique blend of
coming-of-age story
and horror story
(thankfully ditching
the adults for now,
nailing the terrifying
scary/funny of Pennywise);
masterfully employed
genre movie tropes;
was well cast,
well acted,
capitalized on
1980s nostalgia
(no small thanks to
Stranger Things);
heck, it was even
timed and marketed
nearly perfectly

was it perfect?
imo there were
some pacing quibbles,
some moments where
i was taken out
the moment,
etc., (i could go on),
but, bottom line,
IT is excellent,
and especially if
you’re already a
fan of the story,
seeing it’s a no-brainer

IT Dissected

but what does IT mean?

the beauty here is:
most people already know,
or have a sense of it,
the movie even does
(what i’d call a
bit of service here, having
Pennywise literally?speak
his symbolism aloud –
“FEAR” –
as he is dispatched
(for now)
by “the losers”

and what defeats
something like
courage through
something like
the central image of
the signed cast
with “loser”
made into “lover”
becoming a sort-of
stand-in for the point of
whole damn thing

(reminding people
familiar with scripture,
of lines like
“perfect love casts out
all fear;”
prompting questions,
how are the losers
like the church?)

but tbh, to me,
these meanings are
pretty clear,
pretty obv;
they are, tbh,
too big to miss

i don’t disagree with them,
of course,
but i found myself watching,
remembering the book,
and wanting to take time
to unpack some of IT‘s
knottier themes –
how does sexuality tie in?
cuz it seems to;
how do the kids’ parents?
they seem to;
what about race and
identity and history and
how they’re related?
does King mean to say
that growing up and
fear are inextricable?
(the book, of course,
provides plenty
more fodder for
these kinds of questions)

however, i promised
mini-musing only
and zero jump scares,
and so these peripherals,
uberrelated tho they be,
aren’t for here/now

IT?is a good story,
at least partly,
its themes
and meanings –
losers become lovers,
evil dies to good –
operate at this totemic,
mythically big
and primal
level of largeness

which gets us to…

IT Related

i want to say
something like:
all good stories
(like IT) –
when dug at
deeply enough –
will have a
thematic bigness
like i’ve just described;
and it’s this bigness,
at least partly,
that makes us
see them as good
and which allows them to
for us in such a
seemingly ever-present
and popular-to-the-

if i were being
Jungian or Campbellian,
i might say:
all good stories
are variations of
the monomyth

if i were being Christian,
which i am,
i would say:
all good stories are
reverberating echoes –
forward and backward
through time –
of the true story
of the universe…
the one where
good defeats evil
through love…
the one about Jesus

C.S. Lewis,
in?The Voyage of
the Dawn Treader,
said it like this:

On the next page she came to a spell ‘for the refreshment of the spirit.’ The pictures were fewer here but very beautiful. And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got to the third page and come to the end, she said, “That is the loveliest story I’ve ever read or ever shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I’ll read it over again.”

But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn’t turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left-hand pages could not.

“Oh, what a shame!” said Lucy. “I did so want to read it again. Well, at least I must remember it. Let’s see . . . it was about . . . about . . . oh dear, it’s all fading away again.

And even this last page is going blank. This is a very queer book. How can I have forgotten? It was about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill, I know that much. But I can’t remember and what shall I do?”

And she never could remember; and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician’s Book.

do you have
a sense
that you know
very, very deeply
in your heart,
though you can’t
fully explain it –
a magic story?
a story that
is the best thing ever?
so much so that
every other good story
reminds you of it?

a sense that

There’s a song that’s inside of my soul.
It’s the one that I’ve tried to write over and over again.
I’m awake in the infinite cold,
But You sing to me over and over again.

in the words of
“Only Hope”
by Switchfoot?

a sense that,
for example,
when Pennywise loses,
you somehow win,
because there’s
something afoot there
that’s more than
just that story?
that there’s
something afoot there
that’s story itself
a story you’re
actually a part of?


take a moment
to consider…

yes? no?

maybe not.

maybe i took
The Neverending Story
too seriously.

but, then again,
maybe that’s just
another good example
of exactly?
what i’m talking about

and maybe –
oh, so hopefully –
maybe now,
you might
at least
seeing it so too

don’t be scared…
try it

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