samuel x. brase likes to write

Foundation: The End of the Story, pt. 2

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 30 April 2009


Maybe the end should be unclear to the reader?

Let me slow down for just a minute and hearken back to an earlier entry (lord knows I need to move on from this topic). The quote I extracted from the Emily Levine talk — “You can’t deny the other person’s reality.”

What if big events were happening in the galaxy of the story? Some solar systems shut down. The invasion by the aliens. Political assassinations. The rising of the two dead houses. As these monumental events proliferate through the story like a line of dominoes, various groups in the galaxy begin to claim such-and-such is happening.

God is displeased with us. The universe is ending. We’re not the chosen people. And on and on, with each new iterative problem, the answers bifurcate. Perhaps all of these endings come true?

No, that creates a no-risk situation; you can just avoid the bad beliefs and they won’t happen. That’s not the message I want to pass on. But that’s not the best way to look at it. What I have to understand is: They can believe that X is happening because of Y which will result in Z. And I won’t deny X and Y, but the result will be A. But what message do I want to pass on? Besides all my “love” and “understanding” malarkey.

Telos. Teleology. All things are designed for or directed toward a final result, that there is an inherent purpose or final cause for all that exists.

I disagree fundamentally with this approach to philosophy, and I think I need to anchor my novel in that belief. Much as Ayn Rand anchored her work in objectivism and Kafka anchored his work in existentialism, I will anchor this work in anti-teleology. It strikes me as hypocritical then to end with a massive event like the world ending. To be anti-teleological is to say one of two things:

  1. Life is not working towards some ending, it will simply end; or,
  2. Life will continue on into perpetuity, with no “end.”

The destruction of the universe could be interpreted as a “simple end,” but because it’s a story I’ll have to lead up to the event, thus it will appear as if it was planned all along. That effect will occur with almost any path I choose. Stories are in fact always teleological — especially macguffins because they suggest a final result. But no. The revelation of the macguffin isn’t the “final result,” it’s not the endgame.

For example, the revelation of what yehidah does is not the end of my story. It’s simply one of the mysteries that will last throughout much of the story. A counter-teleological worldview is possible, I’ll have to balance the high drama/action with a “life goes on” ending. I like the “you can’t deny the other person’s reality” as a potential method. That might make the characters seem insane though.

This is going to be tougher than I thought.


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