Tuesday, March 30, 2004

happy endings

Speaking of Charles, he has an interesting post on cycles in which he wrote of my philosophy concerning happy endings.

Writing-wise, I repudiate the notion of happy endings. It all depends on when you choose to terminate the story. The only true physical ending is death, after all, and if you subscribe to that as the ending, then everything does end in tears. The so-called "happy endings" are just earlier terminations of a scenario - such as all the "happily ever after" endings that plague rewritten fairy tales. No one knows what happens the day after (though Sondheim's lovely Into The Woods gives us entertaining scenarios).

I believe that all happy endings are false. It is a matter of the author exercising creative control as pushed by his agenda. I prefer something more ambiguous, something more akin to the life I experience day by day, something that is somehow paradoxically more limpid because of its murkiness.

I do not believe in happy stories, not because I think them impossible, but simply because I cannot accept that anything is so simple, so cut and dried. It insults my intelligence. It spits in the face of my humanity.

I can only accept happy endings in the context of a parody, or in a deliberate surreal manner, or in anything that does not ascribe to realism. Because reality is more complex than finding one's eternal bliss. The notion that joy is the be-all end-all of things is simply naivete at its worst.

My reading life is too short to be held hostage by insensate delight.

I do believe that joy and happiness can be written about and experienced in real life. But please, please, please, spare me fiction that ties everything neatly in the end with a wedding or a romance or a birth or a sunrise or the flowering of hope or the triumph of one person against all odds.

Give me doubt, let me wrestle with my conscience, force me to invent answers and stroke my imagination with even more questions.

Show me something to believe - if you show perfection I can only ask "where is the blemish that makes it human?".

Allow me the privilege of experiencing the human condition - do not patronize me with sweetness.


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