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Monday, September 3, 2012

endings

I love a good ending. I even like a bad ending because I need them. It bothers me when things don’t end when they are left up in the air waiting watching and never resolving. The only true endings we ever get are from stories and this year gave us a lot of endings, gave me at least. This year the Dark Knight trilogy ended and 8 wonderfully, hilariously, sarcastically, surprising seasons of Dr. House came to an end.

The thing about endings is that they always lead to ambiguous feelings. It’s almost impossible for an ending to satisfy as many people as the journey there did. It happens, that’s for sure but it only seems to happen when you don’t have to wait for the ending. It can happen when it’s just one movie, just one book or a series of movies and books that was made before you got around to watching or reading them. It never happens with something that’s on-going. For as much as we look forward to ending there is nothing in life more moving and meaningful than the journey there.

Last year I watched Game of Thrones and I loved it. I loved it so much I went and looked for the books that it was based on. 5 books had been written at this point and they ran to almost 7,000 pages but somehow I stuck with them. Well not somehow I loved all of them unabashedly. I began reading the first and literally didn’t stop until I had finished all 5. I would wake up at 10 in the morning (I was on holiday) and start reading. I wouldn’t stop. The sun would come up and go back down, there may be rain or hail for all I would care but I was stuck in the world of this book and nothing else mattered. I would eat in front of the book, make my toilet breaks increasingly rarer and match them with chapter breaks all because my life had changed. Night would come and I would read on. Midnight, 1 am, 3 am sometimes 4 am and I would drag myself off to sleep not because I wanted to but because years of training have taught me that sleep is important to the human cycle then at 10 am would be back where I had left off. And the cycle would repeat. When I went to sleep I would dream of these books. I would see myself as a character or interacting with the characters. My patters of speech would change. I would jape instead of joke, the proper way to spell sir was with an e, ser is still the real way knights are knighted in my mind. The cast of characters runs almost into the thousands but each of them was so fully realised that a name from the first book would show up in the fifth and I would remember that guy. The history of the world was at my fingertips, I knew the names, sigils and bannermen of the great houses, my loyalty shifted as I was introduced to more and more wonderful characters and I felt actual heartbreak when some of them died. An anger and grief so real it put almost everything else I had read to grey.

Also books and movies have an advantage of showing us people so completely much more than life. There is no one in the world whose whole history I know. Whose childhood and characteristics and the way they interact with this person’s destiny is fully revealed to me except when I read a book. I know them better than they know themselves I know them much better than I know myself because a lot of humanity is shaped by barely-remembered, half concealed memories. The things under a rock mean so much about who we are than the rock itself. With a book’s character we are on a first name basis with even the moss.

But back to the series of the books named a Song of Ice and Fire George R.R. Martin began writing them way back. The first came out in 1996 followed by an interval of 2 and 3 years which stretched to an interval of nearly 5 for the next 2. Meaning the 5th book came out in 2011. This is a proposed journey of 7 books. Optimistically this means the last book will come out in 6 to 7 years realistically it’s closer to 10. This while being an epic book series is also an epic journey. There will have been people reading this series of books for almost a quarter century when they finally read the last one.

I turned a quarter century a few months ago and it’s a long time. With something like this. Something that will so thoroughly be dissected by the internet and your own mind, a thing where you will mull over events and remember that one July 10 years ago it took you on perhaps the greatest book reading journey of your life. With something like this the ending will no doubt disappoint as many people as it thrills. But that’s the nature of endings, they are anti-climactic. Either they make the whole journey make sense which will be difficult to do after 25 years of some of the highest expectations I have seen put on a person or they don’t. What people really want is a never ending journey. We want to go on forever because all endings do is remind us that we too end. And I think that all the weight put on the shoulder of an ending has to do with this fact. At the end of our lives we want to look back and think it meant something, anything. An ending that doesn’t put meaning on everything that came before, that doesn’t glow backwards touching every word that came before it and making them all that much more is an ending that’s almost disappointing. They almost all are

And can we blame them? The person writing an ending never really experienced one. Just like the closest we come to knowing people inside out is literature, the closest we come to seeing endings is literature. But art is just a mirror and while a person drawing from a mirror can blow us away with the touches of reality that nevertheless come out it’s not the same. There are beautiful endings in books, in movies, endings that really do make us feel like it was all worth it and connected. They are less so in life. Julius and Jesus betrayed had beautiful endings. Something out of song and poetry but most endings just don’t make sense. Tom Mboya taken too soon, Fidel Castro passed over by the world no longer a fiery revolutionary who walked the world with Che Guevara but a tired old man besot by tired old man afflictions. Endings rarely do justice to the journeys that came before. I. We want the endings we see to make sense, in that way we treat everything as escapism, even the most gritty, realistic movie we expect to have an end befitting its journey when the truth is that this almost never happens. Maybe that’s why endings, almost all endings disappoint.

Still when I finally read Dreams of Spring in 6-12 years I hope for a kickass ending.