beyond B,

or Rule of the Road, a maxim in philosophy of art: “never make a road from A to B.” No story works by going from one place to another and stopping there; it doesnt matter if, and by how much, B is better or worse, more or less stable, complex, sublime than A: wrapping up with the protagonist or situation firmly in B feels, paradoxically, unfinished. Like a melody that keeps returning to the tonic but needs a way out to conclude the piece, you have to epilogue into motion beyond B (and cut it before you arrive somewhere!) or at least start moving back to A, if only in longings and reminiscences. Obviously you need some kind of B to get the story going at all — but a tale of traveling strictly from A to B is even weaker than that of staying in A and not going anywhere. ■    Of all narrative art created since times prehistoric, theres little that could be argued to violate this rule. Often, upon arriving at B you find it not what you expected; whether the real B exists and how to get there may be the themes for the storys conclusion. The rule may seem broken when the narration ends right at the threshold of the promised B — but the bulk of the story is spent in traveling, in the end it takes but a step into the open door, is still in motion; had it lingered after the first glimpse of the new world, it would have frozen dead. Common are books of return that travel from someplace to A — into a past, fondly remembered state or place, “back home”; the recurrently popular cyclic composition renders this literal by fusing the ends together. Bedtime tales sail off into uncharted dreams; death crowns so many stories as the ultimate beyond B. ■    Heat death, singularity, eschatological kingdom: all natural or supernatural end-of-everything theories combine the end-station calm — a final inside the rock freeze — with blurry limitlessness, an “infinity allure” that sucks you into some kind of beyond. “Blinding light and golden trumpets” wink, irrepressibly, at the “dark side of paradise”: the teeth-clenching guilt of idleness and self-conceit, a shivery realization of fakedness; yet another formulation of beyond B is: “There is no Eden.” Hence the bitter questioning of brave new worlds, abhorring the creep of stability, settledness, fadeout; hence the attraction of a window sill and the fundamental impulse of leaving — the urge to end no matter how good a life and start another.

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