miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

Retropost #1659 (14 de junio de 2007): Ending and stopping

A message to a thread of the Narrative List which discusses the "surprising" open ending of the TV series The Sopranos—the context is provided by Michael Kearns and Michael Frank's messages (after mine here).

This whole "ending" vs "stopping" business reminds me of the ending (or the stopping) of David Lodge's CHANGING PLACES, a reflection on the difference between films and written narratives as regards open endings "in which nothing is concluded" (and that in turn brings to mind RASSELAS). Abstaining from a conclusive ending is surely an extra twist to the tale which presupposes the need and the expectation for a more conclusive ending. And further twists may
be superposed I guess. Michael's observation that characters, too, have expectations is surely a reminder of relevant distinctions to be made in that respect. A satisfactory conclusion (a classical one I suppose) brings to a convergence the coinciding expectations of characters and audience
(identification, desire, etc.) whereas a more "belated" or experimental ending plays on more complex or contrapuntal relationships between story desires and discourse desires.

Jose Angel Garcia Landa
Universidad de Zaragoza

Quoting Michael Kearns :

[Ocultar texto citado]
> Michael,
> I've watched probably 1 1/2 episodes of the show and haven't seen the
> finale, so I'm really not qualified to comment on the specifics.  But
> I'm intrigued by your story/discourse distinction relating to what
> happens in/to the narrative.  I would rather think that "ending" would
> have to be a discourse function, except in the case in which characters
> themselves decide that something has come to an end.  And even in that
> case an audience would almost certainly be expected to reflect on
> whether the characters were right in their assessment.  (Well, we might
> need a special category for narratives whose purpose from the beginning
> is to be the tracing of a sequence of events whose outcome is known in
> advance, but even in that case, the artificiality of the construction,
> its rhetorical nature, would seem to demand a discourse approach.)
> "Stopping" is surely a discourse function.
> It never ceases to amaze me how useful is the story/discourse
> distinction.
> Frank, Michael wrote:
>> while i'm not sure how i feel about the way  *sopranos* ended [i'm one
> of those miscreants who never much liked the show in the first place] i
> think that in discussing its lack of closure we need to be careful
> about one small but important detail . . .  other narratives that seem
> to lack closure  [of which there are many:  the final freeze-frame of
> *400 blows* comes to mind as a
>> particularly noteworthy example]  do in fact end, although they end in
> ways that don't satisfy all the expectations previously built up by the
> narrative . . . the final *sopranos* episode, OTOH,  doesn't end, it
> just stops
>> i certainly realize in saying this that i'm raising the question of the
> difference between ending and stopping . . . a preliminary conjecture
> might be that the difference is anchored in the dialectical
> relationship of story and discourse, ending being something that takes
> place IN the story, while stopping being something that happens TO the
> discourse . . . but however we sort this out, the final moments of the
> final episode were structured and narrated differently than the final
> moments and/or pages of the other texts cited as examples of lack of
> closure 


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