Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Literary Rules Illuminating those of life?

Although some may take this for the surface meaning, a didactic poem meant to instruct writers, I believe it says a great deal about life. I've been thinking about plots and sordid tales and what makes us crave the happy ending so much. A beautiful Somalian professor of mine wrote this quote out for me when I came to discuss with him what it was that made me relate more to indeterminate endings in literature than definitively happy or tragic ones.

We got to talking, and I told him that I felt "happy" could be generated at the end, but had the characters not been developed so as to make US happy that they fell to good fortune, or had they not over the course of the piece seemed to have been through the types of things (adversity, longing, or whatever each individual reader may perceive as the rightful path to happiness) that make us feel they are DESERVING of that fortune, we will not find it to be a "happy ending" at all. Instead it will come across as satire in the best case, or just poorly written in the worst. He laughed and wrote this down for me.

"Happy endings are
not concocted
Nor delivered in
a c-section
They must germinate in
The belly of the narrative
And have their fate
In the loom of the plot."

-Edward Said

Is this not life? Is this not why we are thrilled at the success of some of our peers while the success of others seems grotesque? Is it not also what makes us fucking bother at all to keep pushing when everything looks like hell afire?

And what makes an indeterminate ending not feel completely dissatisfying? Because I'm interested in your thoughts, I'll just keep it simple in expressing mine: I think it has everything to do with there being the element of hope with the realistic acknowledgment that nothing is good or bad anyway. that what might seem like a happy ending, may not even be the case i.e. the cinderella story and jokes made about what may have happened afterward-- pregnant, miserable, the prince goes out and finds another whore's shoe and it turns out thats his game.

Is happiness really just the willingness to search for it? Is that journey the thing that we all inherently know encompasses that happiness, even if we often lose sight of that knowledge?

i'm interested in your thoughts. especially if you've been tagged.