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CRC Blog Analysis on
Luminol Theory by Laura Ellen Joyce
“A Constellation Point:
The State of Colorado As the Perpetrator”
Punctum Books published Laura Ellen Joyce’s (Bottom Far Left) analysis Luminol Theory on August 23, 2017; copy editing by Athena Tan; and book design by Vincent W.J. van Gervan Oei (Bottom Far Right).
Joyce has also written the crime fiction novel Museum of Atheism by Salt Publishing; the novella The Luminous Reels by Calamari Press; and edited the anthology textbook Domestic Noir- The New Face of 21st Century Crime Fiction by Palgrave Macmillan.
Below the new headlines and saturated images are weirder, ghostly traces of the state of Colorado as a constellation point for horror of all kinds. The crimes I discuss here were influenced by, and have influenced, a whole range of mystic, religious, and otherworldly practices.
--Luminol Theory, page 98
Joyce describes the victims of these crimes: Jonbenet Ramsey of Boulder, Colorado; victims of serial killer Ted Bundy; the fictional Torrance Family from Stephen King’s The Shining and Stanley Kubrick’s movie version The Shining in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; the Donner Party; the indigenous people in Sand Creek, Colorado Massacre of 1864; the Branch Dravidians standoff led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas; the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh; and the victims of the Columbine Massacre in Littleton, Colorado perpetrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Joyce argues that the basement in the Jonbenet Ramsey is a disciplinary institution used as control by the male members of the households in Colorado – in this case John Ramsey of Boulder, Colorado. The basements also have human like characteristics of being unconscious and an indicator of someone’s economic status.
In conjunction with the central crime of murder, the Ramsey basement can be read palimpsestically as a space for capitalist accumulation of wealth and colonization of land – both staples of the American Gothic narrative.
In the CRC Blog’s perspective the basements also provide a safe and secret place for the perpetrator to commit these crimes. The basements are cold, emotionally set apart from the house, not really a part of the dwelling places for the living. Basements could also describe the Colorado’s basement of snowy terrain – a basement that is seasonal – thus giving Ted Bundy the perfect secret and hiding place to commit these crimes against women, and to hide their bodies in the snowy basements of the state of Colorado.
“By April he had murdered three young women: Caryn Campbell, Julie Cunningham, and Denise Oliverson. Though he perpetrated his crimes through the US, the crimes in Colorado have taken on a grimy valence –particularly the murder of Cunningham, in Vail, Colorado. She was brutally murdered by Bundy after, he testified, he tricked her into carrying his ski boots for him by feigning injury. This particular ruse has been popularized in several culture representations of Bundy and is part of serial-killer folklore. In this case the Colorado landscape participated in the crime with the snow-covered Vail Mountain (Below) offering an alibi both for the heavy ski boots and the injury. When excavated with the Luminol Theory, the murder of Cunningham reveals the mythic narrative that haunts and occupies Bundy’s other crimes. It shines through the snow scene to reveal not only the individual crimes of abduction, murder, rape, and necrophilia but also the systemic patriarchal crimes perpetrated against both women in reality and in cultural representation.”
Another CRC Blog perspective is that Stephen King’s novel and the Rob Reiner film Misery are also applicable to Laura Ellen Joyce’s analysis Luminol Theory. Paul Sheldon is a bestselling novelist of Victorian romance novels featuring the serial character Misery Chastain. He is trying to break away from the Misery Chastain mold of writing and travels to the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado where he writes his new crime novel Fast Cars. The Hotel Boulderado is Paul’s one place where he finishes the first draft of every novel he has written and upon completion of Fast Cars decides to drive to Los Angeles.
Colorado’s terrain and snowy landscape are the contributing factors in Paul Sheldon driving his car off a snowy embankment in Colorado. He is rescued by psychotic fan Annie Wilkes who is under the same writing muse as Paul, except Annie cannot separate reality from fiction. Annie takes Paul to her home in the fictional town of Sidewinder, Colorado. Here the guest bedroom where Annie houses Paul becomes the basement – a place for her to victimize Paul and to do it in secret until she gets what she wants – a burning of the book Fast Cars and Paul writing a new book reviving Misery Chastain back to life from the dead. All of these elements exemplify Laura Ellen Joyce’s analysis and conclusion of Colorado as a perpetrator.
Joyce further states that Colorado is the perpetrator in cases that specifically did not originate in the region of Colorado. She gives an example of the Stanley Kubrick movie The Shining where the subject of The Donner Party is discussed between Jack and Wendy on their way to the Overlook Hotel. Through this conversation, the Donner Party (Donner trail below) is fictionally moved from California to perpetrator Colorado.
Other crimes that did not originate in Colorado but had lasting affects in the state of Colorado are the Branch Dravidians standoff led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas, (Right) which was viewed by Timothy McVeigh who out of anger bombed the Oklahoma City bombing of 168 victims and who was later tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Denver, Colorado.
Joyce’s theory that crimes occurring outside the geographical location of Colorado have a lasting affect in purporting Colorado as perpetrator is supported by journalist and Colorado native Dave Cullen (Above Right) who reported on the Columbine mass shootings:
Joyce (Right) insists Luminol Theory is not limited to the science of luminol theory, the social sciences, or literary theory but is a consummation of all of these things with the one goal: “It relates to the lived---and dead---experience of those who have been subject to extreme violence.” (Joyce's writing space is below left)
Joyce further explains that Luminol Theory’s main idea is to show that “literature serves a social function by encoding within a safe space, desires which must not be enacted in the world.”
The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny.
Louie Croft Boyd
Domestic Noir-The New Face of 21st Century Crime Fiction
Laura Ellen Joyce
Museum of Atheism
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
The Shining movie
The Shining novel
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