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  1. #16
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Well on that level, Gary, you will not resolve the big issues. The questions you've raised in Gemquest have no satisfactory answers. If you tried to give those answers to the readers, then you would be a fraud (and you know that, you're worried what the reaction will be to an ending that forces the reader to try to find her own answers).

  2. #17
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    You riddle yourself a problem such as when is pacifism bravery and when is it cowardice and does the distinction matter. What kind of answers can any author provide? In the context of his story, only the answer that fits his character(s).

  3. #18
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Well Dawn, there's the story and the emotions of each individual character on the micro level, and then there are the philosophical and ethical issues on the macro level. Each blends into and influences the other, but regardless, i can resolve (or not) many of the personal conflicts and themes, while not resolving any of the thematic ethical issues. A character can die, can come to terms with fate, can reconcile and be satisfied, but the answers that I seek as a human, as an author, can remain undiscovered and unreconciled.
    Ah, I see. Well that's me being the relativist again. I like fiction best when it's the thorn in the side of wisdom.

    I do feel that resolving the big issues would place plot at odds with character. We have fate and moral guiding principles. Allegory. Fiction less as mimesis than as psychotropos. Inner space.

    If you're the historian, resolving the issues is dishonest. Unless, of course, you're buying into a teleological model of history.

    Hah, I can't even resolve a simple post.

  4. #19
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Unless, of course, you're buying into a teleological model of history.
    Have you noticed any historian who uses a different model?

  5. #20
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I feel often when I'm writing that the story has already occurred and I'm just relating what happened. In that sense, I'm the historian. But it's not true of course. So what am I doing? Letting the dialectic play itself out? Guiding the dialectic? Ignoring it?

    If I believed in teleology when it comes to history, writing this would be easier. Each character and action would have a purpose and end, and each would follow their path to their inevitable conclusion. But I don't.

    Brian, what I'm worried about is a very very bleak ending. I started with so much hope. The twins saw 'good'. They believed it was objective and manifest. They believed it was tangible. I tried to define the terms so that this sense of innate good was not so simplistic and silly sounding. I looked to nature, to love, to relationships, to parenting, to give this some stability. And as I near the end of this long study of mine, I've been unable to convince myself that what I hoped would become clear, has become clear. In fact, the opposite has occurred. It's less clear.

    My villian was never bad. He's what I feared actually. He's the truth in many respects, if I dare to say it. He's the embodiment of moral relativism, his supporters, those who love him, understand the arbitrariness of morality. He's the only honest one.

    So what of my heroes? The characters I tried so hard to love and to nurture? How do they survive? How do they justify themselves?

    Hereford, you hit it on the head. The saddest part, the most poignant of all, is that it doesn't really matter.
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; July 21st, 2008 at 04:25 PM.

  6. #21
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    The saddest part, the most poignant of all, is that it doesn't really matter.
    There's the part that I don't accept. Of course, it matters. The whole discussion matters. All the words in all the books in all the libraries and stores across the globe mattter. Added together they constitue the best thinking and the not-so-best thinking humanity has managed to record. Added together they sum to truth. Added together they make sense of everything that happens.
    They just don't add up to neat little aphorisms.
    Whatever ending ultimately satisfies you will ultimately satisfy those who've followed your journey. It won't be truth as revelation. It will be truth through your unique prism, not the total reflection but a piece of much grander mosaic.

  7. #22
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I like to think that. I like to tell myself that.

    And then you die. And then what?

    Do we ever live in the present? Is there a present at all? Or just our memory of what's already over? And when it's over, does it matter? Why?

  8. #23
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    And then you die.
    That's a fact. How does it affect the notion that you have written four books, are writing a fifth and maybe a sixth through twentieth because it interests you, satisfies something in you, let's you go to cons and bask in the glory of being an author? Why should there be more?
    Do we ever live in the present? Is there a present at all? Or just our memory of what's already over? And when it's over, does it matter? Why?
    We got what we got. If that is nothing more than a memory of stuff we did, then that's what we got. When it's over, it mattered to us, individually, indicated by the notion that we fight so damned hard to escape it being over. A guy with prostate cancer or a woman with breast cancer accepts the necessity of radiation treatment because neither is willing to let it go. Also indicated by the notion that our passing from the scene hurts those who loved us. So, it mattered to us and to them.
    For those who are not loved and not mourned, it seems to matter because of the lack.

  9. #24
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It would seem, He. It would seem.

    It's hard to explain the feeling. Some of us suffer from it and some just don't. Maybe it's a predisposition, I'm not at all sure. But I get these terrible, empty feelings sometimes. Yes, I work hard. Yes, I have so much to be grateful for. Yes, I love my family with all my heart and all my soul. But none of that seems to be enough. So then there's guilt associated with it too! I'm not even a good existentialist! I don't believe that the meaning we bestow upon the world is any more gratifying or believable than apriori meaning/religious meaning.

  10. #25
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Your problem, Gary, is that you want to be religious -- particularly Christian -- and believe in God, but you have too much doubt about it to manage it.

    Which is why you wrote GemQuest -- the struggle you have about the meaning of life splattered across the page with a cast of hundreds. Your tree gods turned out to be not what they seemed -- the perfect beings of good who don't really exist, or not in the way that's all sugar and spice, anyway. Your villain is, like Satan, a fallen angel, the focus of pain and doubt and disbelief, destroying the possibility of Heaven. But now, you're coming to the end of the story, and you are wondering how you are going to resolve this issue. Do you banish doubt and let God reign and Heaven on Earth be rebuilt? Or do you banish God and let doubt and pain win, leaving suffering, death and nothing after?

    Since you haven't managed to resolve this issue in your own life, and probably never will, is it any wonder you're having a problem with it in your fiction? That the ending you may have planned is now skittering all over the place as each character works out the conundrum in his or her own way? That you liked The Road, whose main character is dealing with the exact same issue? (The Road does not have an open ending, by the way; it has a closed, classic Western ending.)

    So, no, you probably aren't going to resolve the issue completely in the story. But you will have to pick a slight turn in one direction or another, because you have symbolic plot events that are not going to just lay there and not move. It's okay if that direction is towards the doubt and the dark, but there is also the possibility of good and light, even if it is ultimately meaningless, futile, and doubt is not entirely banished.

    Life may be without meaning, there may be no afterlife, but life usually does have meaning to us, no matter how futile it is, while we're living it. And here is something to consider -- look at why you feel there is no meaning to things if there's no God and afterlife. That may help you figure out where you want to go with the story. As for the rest, perhaps therapy, which probably all fiction writers need.

  11. #26
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Our fiction writing IS our therapy! You know that.

    This morning while I was running (what better time to write!) I figured it all out. Well, not all, but enough. I know why the trees are dying. That I've known for ages. I know what the 'page no one has seen' says. I know why the darkening is spreading.....and so on.

    I was so hopeful when I began. I was like a little kid. I saw the good in things. My characters did too. They knew right from wrong. They were confident. They were sincere. Then life just dragged them down, and now? Now they're all confused and scared and tired.

    This isn't what I planned for.

    But you are all right. It's my quest and I won't find the pot of gold in this series or any series I might write. I have to be content with picking up a stray coin here and there.

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