Readers of Relapsed Arcs

Bruce Baugh asks, in an e-mail, whether films/texts that form “closed loops” are more to my liking than more traditionally sequential works–given my problem with endings. My short answer? Not really. My problem with teleology stems from regret over the senseless untying of the beautiful knots writers work so hard to create. The novel I’m working on deals with a great many things–but it’s called Longing For Catastrophe, and it is primarily concerned with the human need to impose “denouements” upon experience. I’m not saying that there aren’t endings in life–but, as Jonathan Edwards assures us, we don’t have much say about when they occur. Oh sure, we can commit suicide–but that doesn’t change the fact that our experiences lead us nowhere (if anything, it’s an admission of the same)… So! I either like to see a work that keeps that tension bottled up somehow (Marvel’s Silver Age), or allows the tension to build up to an insane pitch that destroys all narrative logic (Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance is the best example of this–Paul Auster’s books aspire to the same thing).

Bruce offers up Memento and Lost Highway as examples of closed loops which avoid the problem of closure. And they do. But they cheat. Life does “progress”–or, at any rate, experiences do pile up on top of one another, despite the fact that they never add up to anything greater than themselves. The way I see it, trick films of the “eternal recurrence” variety leave the spectator in just as much of a lurch as those which come to an epic climax–because both are calculated to make us think in terms of patterns, rather than about discrete events/characters… That said–I do find these films interesting, Bruce. At least they’re trying! The one that grabs me the most is Dead Of Night. Check it out everyone, it’s pretty amazing! I wish I had time to write more on this topic–and I will. Soon!

Good night friends!

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