On Endings

Have you ever started to read a book more slowly solely because you did not want the story to end? Taken more breaks, put it away for longer, and used it as a treat to read whenever you felt sad? I for one did this for the first time when I read Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Now I know I mention both Murakami and Norwegian Wood profusely, but I cannot stress enough how valuable he and this work are. Besides showing me love, it also taught me patience and made me appreciate literature on a deeper level. I have probably said this before, but I truly became a changed person after reading Norwegian Wood. Changed to the extent of not being able to finish any book in one sitting anymore.

I have read numerous books under 300 pages that I could have easily finished in only a day, especially considering the fact that my record of most pages read in a day is 1100. I am not kidding or flexing with that number. One summer day when I was still a teen, I read two books from a series on vampires (neither Twilight nor The Vampire Diaries). Technically speaking I finished one book and got close to the end of the second, but that is not the point. I bulldozed through as if they were nothing, but I also do not remember anything about them but the fact that I read all those pages.

Let me take a different example: binge watching TV shows. I usually do not have the patience to sit in front of a screen for multiple consecutive hours watching something, unless I am watching small videos that give me the feeling I am ticking off boxes and making progress while watching. That is why I struggle watching movies (even though I have been getting better), but do like watching series. I even dare say I have binge watched my fair share of shows, think: multiple seasons of Modern Family, Grace and Frankie, and The Good Place. The beauty about these three shows is that they have 20 minute episodes and are comedies. 

The only show I have finished out of these three is The Good Place, one of the reasons being the fact that I really wanted to read Eda’s thoughts on it. I am pretty sure I have two seasons left of both Modern Family and Grace and Frankie. I like these shows a lot, and exactly because I like them a lot I do not want to finish watching them. For some reason I want the act of watching the final episodes to be like a treat. With that, I risk being disappointed by the quality of the later episodes, but that is a risk I am willing to take. I simply do not want my watching experience of these shows to end.

I look forward to the end, but I also do not look forward to the end. I feel like I accomplish something when I finish it, but at the same time a sense of emptiness washes over me. I have been reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for over a year now and I am only half way through. It is my summer goal to finish reading it. I might have even done it by the time you read this, but it is a fact that I experienced and learned many other things in my personal life while I was going through the process of reading this book. A very plain example would be finessing my voice and learning how to write poetry.

There are two different journeys when one is working on a certain activity, or to simplify, when someone is either reading a book or watching a series. The primary journey is of the thing itself, the act of reading or watching that shows you the fictional. The secondary journey is the journey of the self; the way you develop externally from the fictional. To simplify, this is what happens in your life while you are engaging with the activity. Some journeys are incredibly long and satisfying, while others are short and emotional. I call the short journey emotional, because this links back to binge-watching. Usually when someone is binging something it is because they want to forget about the non-fictional world, a form of escapism. 

What I am getting at is that sometimes we have a choice to keep something going forever, but oftentimes we do not. In this case we find power and agency in the primary journey, because we get to decide if and when we put an end to it. The secondary journey is freer floating and uncontrollable. It takes place in the real world where several external factors are at play. We experience a series of events where we sometimes are not able to decide the following step, but oftentimes we do. Think of The Hero’s Journey if you want, my idea is similar to that.

In my second introduction almost two years ago I wrote how I had been stuck on S01E04 of Stranger Things for about 9 months now. If you do the quick math, you find out that is almost my whole career at Writer’s Block. I have fond memories of my time with the magazine. I have made several good friends, published amazing pieces of art, gained more confidence in my own writing, learned how to work with and lead a team of talented people, but I also made a bunch of mistakes and probably even hurt people a little sometimes. I worked on a total of 11 magazines, wrote (including this one) 19 separate website articles, and shared board membership with 22 different individuals. Although just numbers, I did enjoy doing the work and being with the people. However, this journey is soon to be over.

Writer’s Block is only part of the secondary journey attached to Stranger Things. One could call Writer’s Block its own primary journey, with my personal life being its secondary journey. I went on a solo trip to the other side of the world, I got my degree in English Literature, I fell in love, I moved houses, I published poetry. I developed myself and eventually became the person I am now. Three years is a lot and not a lot, depending on the context of those three years. Context itself is a compelling concept that should be taken into account at all times. At least it is according to one of my Sociology professors. 

Looking back and reflecting on time is a funny thing. I have done it in several of my articles, even joked about how all I write about is self-indulgent and centered on me. Just like this article if you think about it. It is my last excuse to be genuinely sentimental and incredibly entitled while also giving myself (and everyone else if I may be that arrogant) the opportunity to call this journey a wrap. It is ending, it has ended the moment you read these words. Am I lamenting now? Probably. Will I edit this part out of the final version? Maybe not. There is a charm to unedited thoughts, as they show you the pure inside of a writer’s mind, which is yet something else I have written about before. Do not worry, I will not continue to link all my articles in here. Just scroll through the authors page if you are interested.

Duality is not uncommon at all. One might even claim our whole existence is built upon dichotomies, on pre-existing structures we keep reinventing to fit the new lifestyle we have adapted to, our new paradigm. I do not always feel it, but in the past three years I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge. I do not feel it, because it has internalized to such extent that it feels normal to me to be aware of certain facts, occurrences, theories, phenomena and the like. It is one of the topics I talk about a lot, but never really wrote about for Writer’s Block. 

I observed duality only half an hour ago while I was on YouTube watching videos about a Korean boy group. Their personalities differ vastly when they are performing and when they are having fun amongst themselves. The way they present themselves, the front they put on, the way they are acting, is different from the backstage, the person they actually are. Sociologist Erving Goffman has written a theory about this where he extensively theorizes about how life is actually a stage performance: his dramaturgical analysis. This is literally observable with K-pop idols, who have their embellished costumes while they perform on a stage in front of an audience. 

Now I briefly discussed two more topics that I never wrote a full article about: K-pop and sociology. There are so many topics that can be approached from so many different angles that I would almost call it infinite. Almost, because I despise the word infinite and do not believe in infinity of itself. Everything is finite. We are seeing now how the world is not as indestructible as we believed it to be. To quote Jurgen Habermas: “It takes an earthquake to make us aware that we had regarded the ground on which we stand everyday as unshakable”. This exact quote has been on my whiteboard for almost a month now, and I do not have any intension to erase it anytime soon. 

At one point in time there was an article about drag queens and what they can teach us in the making. Or rather: what certain drag queens have taught me. The only drag queens I know of were participants on RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show that was recommended to me by two of my best friends on multiple occasions, but also by Luc and Roos, the editors-in-chief during my first year at Writer’s Block. I was going to write about how fashionable queens such as Aquaria and Violet Chachki had given me more confidence, how both in their own being inspired me to express myself with clothing a little more than I used to when I was in high school. Or how Bianca del Rio encouraged me, in her own way, to be honest while also reassuring and motherly, to bring out the best in me but also in others. 

The three queens I just mentioned won their seasons. I binge watched the show and saw them win their seasons, because I did not feel that emotionally attached to RuPaul’s Drag Race. This show will keep reproducing itself until the audience is sick of it and does not want any more content. It is very strongly built on that capitalistic system where the producers are striving to make as much profit as they can. The format allows that. With the comedies from earlier that is not as easily possible. The writers need storylines that make sense, the actors who have been working on the same project for years start to crave something new. That format does have an end, and with that more of an influence on my decision to either binge it or not.

There are a few things that I would really like to see the ending of. One of them is indeed how several TV-shows (think: Pretty Little Liars) are being milked until they do not make any sense anymore for the sake of keeping viewers “satisfied”. However, nothing is more unsatisfying than realizing that it would be pointless to finish watching a show because of all the plot holes it developed as a result of lousy writing and monetary pressure. That is not a serious issue though. It is easily fixable without emotional damage being done, as you stop caring about it and lose interest. Out of sight, out of mind.

I get really insecure, angry, and anxious during the summer months. As the weather gets hotter, we are all forced to wear less or more revealing clothing in order to feel comfortable and cool. However, every single summer I experience street harassment when I walk outside. I get catcalled, have cars honk at me, have men approach or even follow me. Whenever I am outside, I make sure I am wearing headphones and I have the volume turned up as high as possible, because I do not want to hear the comments some people make as I pass them. I despise summer, and this type of behavior plays a significant role in that.

Just because someone is wearing something revealing does not give someone else, usually a stranger, the right to comment on it, to wolf-whistle at the wearer, or just straight up shout something obscene at them. This type of behavior does not only affect me, there are more people out there who have voiced their anger, frustration, and fear when it comes to street harassment. A simple Google search will provide you with receipts if you want to check how truthful I am being in case you are doubtful. Or just ask some of your friends, I am sure they will instantly recall at least 3 instances of street harassment.

Does this article have an ending? It does, and it is near. To me, it is very difficult to wrap this up. Not because of emotional reasons, because I do know that I will probably end up writing for a different platform again sometime in the future, but because I do not know if this is a satisfying way to part. That is also part of the journey, it is the thing you can but cannot control. I have used Writer’s Block as a means to procrastinate before and am also doing it now. To part with something that was a part of your, or my life, for this long has a certain weight to it. It is not about what people expect from me to write, but about what I expect from myself to type out and finish with. What do I want to return to when I am reflecting on my time at Writer’s Block? Will that change? Am I going to shoot a message to a new board at some point requesting them to take down some of my articles because I do not agree with myself anymore? I was ironically going to claim that the questions are endless, but the moment I stop coming up with new questions they do actually end. 

There is no real end, there are only multiple endings that lead to new beginnings. If you go on goodreads.com, you will probably be able to find a ton of quotes related to endings, even some similar or exactly the same as the one I started this paragraph with. Sentences like that one make me feel like I am a character in a book, as if I am in my own personal Truman Show. I catch myself pretending to put up a show a lot, even when I am actually by myself. How does that relate to what I am trying to say? No idea. The Truman Show had an end, I guess. But that is just the movie. 

Several people in real life are directing their own Truman shows by being online presences and social media influencers, by exposing their secondary journeys without telling us about the primary one they are escaping from. Maybe that is what an ending is: a means to escape from something else. Maybe something actually does end when you add another layer to it. Maybe that is the period every primary journey needs. But maybe not. I have no idea anymore. To again quote, but this time from the Dutch author Arthur Japin: “Nu is het kleine paardje moe[1].

[1] Translation: Tiny Horsey Is Tired Boiii


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