Twilight Zone Dispatch: The Last Stop and the Book of Revelation

“Clarence Larkin’s commentary on THE BOOK OF REVELATION is written LIKE THIS, crafted with occasional capitalizations to emphasize IMAGES and TERMS. Reading it doesn’t feel like being shouted at but rather kind and intimate, as though he’s DIRECTING our attention in the same way a CHILD is directed to look at CARDINALS and CATERPILLARS during NATURE WALKS.  … I grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, the supposed subject of the Twilight Zone episode ‘A Stop at Willoughby’ (1960), in which a man falls asleep during his daily commute and DREAMS of a train station for a UTOPIAN TOWN. The opening narration begins: ‘This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor, all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’s protection fell away and left him a naked target.’ A naked target, the episode suggests, for virulent daydreaming. It’s a cold winter, and Gart is an advertising executive so beleaguered by both wife and boss that his only respite is the commute he spends dreaming of a better place. As his life spirals horrific—his wife thinks he’s a coward, he fails at his job—Willoughby from the window waxes idyllic: parasols, pushcarts, summertime in 1888. It is a backward-looking fantasy, one he indulges in daily while sleeping. Until, after a particularly bad day at work, he decides to get off at the dream-stop, and dies. That’s all. Once a year, this episode plays on loop in my hometown’s public library for the Last Stop Willoughby Festival, when the center square fills up with ice cream and pretzels, and residents ride a trolley through town to reenact Gart’s window-gazing commute. It’s a community ritual that occurs at summer’s end, when the wind sweeps over the Lake Erie shores and the grayness settles down more permanently into daily weather. How else to approach the dying year than to together board a trolley and imagine encountering a utopic version of one’s hometown? A utopia, says Foucault, is like a mirror. It is ‘a place without a place…I am there, there where I am not.’ A town with no blemish, basked in sun. …”
The Paris Review
1960s: Days of Rage The Twilight Zone (Dec. 2019)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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