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The End is Wedged in the Beginning

This is a story I heard from my friend Andrew’s mother whose name is Joyce:

I used to, when I was a young girl, love stories where the end is wedged in the beginning. Example, the writer describes a painting that a sailor sees on the first page, and we realize at the end when his ship goes down that the whole story, the ship, the ocean, the biological engine of the ship’s end hidden therein, were all prefigured in the description of the painting.

Second example: a cursed town whose story is described as being like a pig-tail (viz: spiral) ends after a hundred years when the story of the town which is the very book that you the reader are reading is decoded and the last line of the book describes the destruction of town by hurricane and here “describes” is meant literally — the book we are reading both uses writing to bring the town into being and then to usher it out, like a hopeful actor at an audition.

But, Joyce, continued as an old — you’re not old, Joyce! — i am — woman — I realized I am less interested in clever ways ends can be hidden in beginnings and more in the wedging. In you might say, the hiding. Because where does that come from, the hiding? The wedging? What mysterious alphabet gives us the letters to write “beginning” and “ending”? Or, to speak a little less enigmatically, isn’t it much less important that there are letters when decoding a message, than to know which direction to read it in?

Forward, backwards, or boustrophedonic?

And isn’t even more important than those two aforementioned things,viz: the meanings of the letters – abcde etc. — and what order to read them in, to know that there is such a thing as an order? That there is a beginning, a middle, and an end?

At any rate that is the story, as it was told to me by the woman whose name was Joyce, whose child is Andrew, whose friend is me.

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6 thoughts on “The End is Wedged in the Beginning

  1. Sometimes, of course, the beginning and ending are not where we think they are.

    Joyce’s story reminded me of one of my favorite mystery movies: “Suspect X,” in which a detective teams with a physicist to solve a murder. It’s only clear at the end that the mystery’s solution is contained in the first few lines of dialogue, even before the opening credits. The movie was based on a hit TV show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4iCLRCdklo

  2. I remember reading this piece last year. It is as intriguing to me now as it was then. It stirs thoughts on creation and procreation, but I still can’t quit wrap my head around it. What is the wedging (or shall we call it hiding?) of the story? It eludes me!

    • it is a question about why creation takes place. the idea is that the very lowest and last thing to ever happen was the reason G-d created the universe — so the end — the final moment of human life — is “wedged in” — the beginning — the primal thought int he Divine Mind to create the universe — the highest and the earliest had the lowest and latest already “in” it.

  3. Thank you for your answer. It’s elucidative and very much appreciated. The end does… feel wedged in the beginning and therefore there can be joy in it.

    But while the reason for the creation itself would seem quite simple to imagine and understand, it is the reason why the creation is as it is, that seems quite incomprehensible to me. At least for the moment, which I hope, is just the middle.

    I remember this idea that G-d withdraw his presence to make space for us. It’s very beautiful, but if I’m honest to myself, I feel rather abandoned…

    Thank you again.

  4. I’ve spent many hours with such thoughts. I never knew they were part of a larger question or that anyone else spent their time thinking & clarifying their ruminations enough to become part of a very large conversation. I just assumed it was another one of my unique quirks.

    When I’d talk with my mom about the questions & thoughts that kept me so occupied, she said “you can imagine the house where you’d like to live. But before you can move in, you need several things to happen: you need land on which to build the house; you need permits; you need to purchase all the supplies; you must hire a contractor & construction crew; if you’d like a functioning bathroom, you’re going to need a plumber. You’re also going to want power, I presume…” And then she looked at me and I realized how many particular details must fall in place before anything can happen. Anything. Everything!

    I never knew my mom was so brilliant before that moment. I knew she was creative and talent, smart and funny, but I didn’t think she could unravel the tangled thoughts I had rattling around in my head. Now that she’s at the end of her journey in this realm, I wish she could regain consciousness long enough to answer all the other questions I have. I may be older, but part of me will always be a confused kid.

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