100: How Everything Ended

How might everything end? What would you do if you came to the end of everything, which is the title of a fiction written by a good friend of mine several years ago? In this fiction, the writer tried to describe the end of everything. He asked people: “Describe the end of everything. What do you think I should put there?”

“Isn’t that the point?” Ruiz responded. “That the end of everything is impossible to describe because there’s nothing there.”

Erasmus disagreed. “There’s got to be something there. Besides, there’s never an end of everything. Nothing can ever end entirely,” about which Marisela said, “That’s pure speculation, an infection of the Platonic, something of the seeds of religion wherein infinity is imagined by the thinker as the godhead and thus inventing a form of dangerous reality.”

Cruz took over then, ripping the blank sheets of paper out the writer’s hands (and his pencil, which was still sharp) and he etched a landscape. Over there (no need for a verb here as the brain fills it in) mountains, to the left he drew a (here the verb is a convenience) cloud, and in the center he drew an edge. “This is what I see when I think of the end of things,” and he gave the paper to the writer and asked his opinion of the drawing.

“I’ve been trying for the last one hundred days to remove unimportant information from my writings. I call them fictions” (remember, this was many years ago, when such a descriptor was still in fashion) “because I didn’t want to be encumbered by story conventions.”

The other characters looked at the writer. They waited but he didn’t know what they were waiting for. He filled in the silence with conversation: “In addition, in coming upon the work of the filmmaker and the poets, story writers, and other image makers, another goal was to promote disruption. For example, the viewer might watch the film and after reading my fiction, which was inspired by the film, they would go back to the film and see elephants where before there were no elephants but other things, other objects, one after the next. Yes, this was the challenge: to permanently alter the context of the original.

“The third goal was to examine the nature of spontaneous creativity, its limits, its influence and its definition (this fiction, for example, is about definition, which will soon be made plain). In the context of these 100 fictions, spontaneity is not necessarily defined as guess work, that is, guessing about the object. It can be said that the novice writer (for some reason they want to be a writer. In most cases, they simply want to play the role of writer) makes several errors in their thinking about craft. The first and most significant error (the second error is that they don’t eat well) is that they don’t seek out and study their tradition. They don’t read. Reading the tradition means amassing memory on the characters that writers in the past and in the contemporary have invented and explored and are inventing and exploring. Without this knowledge, the writer is merely guessing about the craft and might not know what to do when a character opens a box and finds a mole asleep in the tissue paper. You, for example, Marisela, are a patchwork of an enormous store of characters, most notably from the oeuvre of Garcia Marquez and Alejo Carpentier. Without them you would not exist. Knowing what I think I know, I can draw from my teachers and their teachings and swiftly, writing a fiction in less time that it takes to make beans: my aim is not to be like Marquez or Carpentier or Ovid but to explore you, Maricela, where ever you lead. The list, however, is long, for on top of the characters we also have the types, the numerous types: the romance, the science fiction, the back-country tale, the street myth which is principally an oral form, remembered from those old days when we sat on the sidewalk at night and spoke about “the witch and the siren” or La Llorona.

Maricela blinked her eyes. She lay her hand on Cruz, who might have been asleep or thinking about bears (which is another story). “Yes, the disruption,” the writer continued, “the invention, and the spontaneous. And ultimately the fiction, which is an important form and has nothing to do with reality. You hear this: ‘get real.’ ‘We must contain our fantasies.’ You hear this ‘I’m honest. Vote for me.’ No, it’s significant not to compare fiction with reality as reality is itself an invention (and it’s also important that we prevent people who abuse the fiction to abuse the fiction and pretend that they are providing us a gold brick). All political seasons prove this essential fact: if a reader believes the ‘fact’ then this fact becomes ‘real,’ a matter of belief, and this ‘reality’ is conflated to ‘faith.’ Fiction is the enemy of faith. Yes, the fiction explores a premise, often stated, often not. The exploration may depend on character, which depends upon other, unwritten characters and types. Yes, it’s been fun, it’s been instructive, it’s been ‘real,’ and I thank the filmmaker, the writers, the painters, and the photographers, as we’ve been sneaking behind each others’ backs and subtly changing their works, breaking them open, converting them, altering their shape, removing and adding, everyone to his or her own thinking and goals and techniques, like thieves who enter a house and move the owner’s belongings around so that when they reenter, the owners ask if they have entered the correct place, a place they so longed for (which is a metophor). But I’ll leave those people to their wondering as I know they will find their way out and if not then they will survive nonetheless.”

The writer stopped speaking and true to form Maricela and Ruiz sat up straight and said together, “Yes, we can imagine the end of everything. It’s simple: we simply redefine ‘everything’ as, say, everything is: everything that was produced in the last 100 days, everything inside that 100 days is the ‘everything’ we mean and nothing we do the day after shall be included in that 100 days. It’s binary, so binary. And infinite.”

“It’s perfect,” said Cruz. “Better still is we won’t have to draw it as it’s already been drawn.”

Erasmus, however, ever impractical, merely shook his head. Ruiz, animated and sufficient for the moment, grabbed his arm and drew him away, followed by the others, all of them, enclosed, everything redefined. The writer watched after them. He heard doors close. He heard what might have been the snapping of a director’s slate. Then nothing but the silence of their hasty withdrawal. And an openness, the openness of everything ending.

And that’s how everything ended.

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