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The Waves Mark the Bottom of the Sea of the Sky: De-resolution in Fiction

One keeps forgetting to go right down to the foundations. One doesn’t put the question marks deep enough down.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

The beginning is the end and the way up is the way down, so goes the nature of physics in the world of the story. Endings can be as divisive as the sea is distinct from the sky, where one reader’s satisfaction becomes another one’s fury. Endings can feel devised and reek of the writer baiting the reader on, on until the next installment in the series that might have been better as a longer book. Questions are answered and characters take their appointed places, sometimes beneath the ground, others, confined to the hell of repetition in the form of happiness. To begin a story, as a writer or reader, is to end the little oblivion that came before it, to find new niches in the brain to create, while actual memories try and crowd out the imagined ones, until some of those sea/sky memories become indistinguishable, like a storm over the ocean. All is water.

And in the porches of my ear did pour…

— Shakespeare’s, Hamlet

Just because somebody asks a question, doesn’t mean it has to be answered. This is a fundamental truth of being a free-thinking human. Questions that beg to be answered by a story’s conclusion might seem like they must be, but there are certain questions that are best left that way. To tie up all loose ends is to leave the open world of the story closed off and left to choke on its own fatalistic vapors. Besides the overarching ‘being-nesses’ of love and living, what big questions are truly answered, if only broadly, in a person’s life? No matter their station, death leaves the questions that drove us on through the abysmal days unanswered. If those questions could have been answered, what then? A rock band disbands and their catalogue of music is left behind, but there is no exclamation point left at the end of that journey’s final whirling sentence that’s a final song. Even a life ‘un-lived’ has questions that probably haunt that person until their final breath, a final (…), not a (.). Pointing at the metaphorical horizon might the most genuine form of not answering the answerable, a wink with a smile, full of regret, but implying more to come, more that the reader or loved ones are left to figure out through their own imaginations, their own living.

Things keep their secrets.

— Heraclitus

A journey of a thousand miles begins under one’s feet, so said Laozi and so is the nature of a story, no matter the medium. To imagine a wall of oblivion on the final page, the infinite barrier of resolution, betrays the nature of the sea and sky, confounds navigation, destroys the uncertainty that reigns in the universe. Characters are left breathless and without the force of will that made you love or hate them, even better, both. Whether or not a sequel is to come, crowning uncertainty pays tribute to the imagined world and all that fills it, from the unfathomed sea to the dragon-haunted sky. Striking the pages of a story with a pointed question mark, deep down, again and again, is to strike life into everything, giving rise to trapped waters and seeds that intermingle in a life-gushing thing we call a good story.

Hayden Moore

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