What is it to 'go on', to 'leave behind', to 'finish with'?
I don't quite mean moving on to doing something else, which is often coloured with the anticipation and energy of whatever it is that is new.
Over the past few weeks, my cable company has been running episodes of The Closer back to back, two or three a night – it's very good, I'd never seen it when it first aired. Kyra Sedgwick is really excellent – entirely natural/realistic, flawed and energetic and believable, at times remarkably cold, but often passionately empathetic, even with the criminals she catches. One of those rare cases where balancing the entire show on her character just works – as good as Vince D'Onofrio, for instance, though such a different style.
I was curious about the ending, so downloaded it – she ends up caught in an unresolvable conflict over a case, resigns to go to another job... since she shot a suspect through the side of the oversized, frankly rather dowdy bag she always carries, the detectives who work with her buy her a new bag. They give it to her in an extremely well-done scene – emotional but social, balanced between the difficulty of expressing feelings in a work context and the fact that they all do have a real connection. They apologise if the bag doesn't look exactly like the right one –
she smiles, looking at the bag, and says, 'It looks like love.'
Of course, although in the world of the television show and its successor, she is going to another job, we know that she is resigning after seven years of a very successful acting stint. So it's really final, an exit. That comes through in the scene, because the actors are also dealing with the tricky internal state of leaving a frame of imaginative experience that they won't be able to reenter, except by watching video, which is quite different for them.
(Incidentally... the sentence 'It looks like love' is also her first line at the beginning of the first show: but in that case a murder victim. So the dark, twisted beginning is transformed, over seven years, into an honest connection between the character and the people she works with.)
Last night, I opened the window when I went to bed: a chilly, calm, autumn night. Unquestionably autumn, for the first time: no more feeling of transition, surprise that it was still warm, or that it was cooler but one could still wander around in a light shirt.
I responded to a current meme, choosing three fictional characters (apparently they need to be from film/television, as pictures are expected); my choices made sense to me, though I hesitated – they probably seem pretentious, especially in Britain, where anything that isn't self-deprecating or self-mocking is considered pretentious. (I always note, when people say 'pretentious', the distinction between what the word actually means and what people have imposed on it.) But, after the past year, I find myself fairly uninterested in how the Brits view existence, at least when it clashes with my own views or feelings.
I ended up choosing Prior, in Angels in America, during his eerie visit to a heaven that is both reassuring and terribly sad; Chris as played by George Clooney, in the remake of Solaris, when he is sitting on his bed, watching the rain; and, because I knew that those would be seen as too serious – and perhaps inflated – and thus of course pretentious – but also because it made a kind of edgy, comic sense, the wonderful Dr Linda Freeman as played by Jane Lynch, the sardonically bitchy psychotherapist from Two and a Half Men (back when it was funny, before Sheen's pathetically narcissistic side took over from the other parts of him).
She really was incredibly funny, and so very, very bone dry:
Dr. Freeman: So, what else is going on with your life?
Charlie: Not much. I've been gaining a little weight for some reason. Maybe 'cause I haven't been sleeping well.
Dr. Freeman: (looks at him, as he keeps stuffing himself with another pudding) Yeah, that's probably it.
Charlie: Oh, and this one girl I've been seeing pretty regularly decided to dump me.
Dr. Freeman: Huh.
Charlie: *Huh* what?
Dr. Freeman: Oh, nothing, it's just... sometimes I feel like I'm stealing your money.
And reducing work load at the university... and concerned that that may put me in a dangerous financial position.
And trying to analyse the body and its strength and weakness: though my biochemical mood is so much better, the body remains shaky – as Sontag said: the way we live now.
And looking at the two articles that are due, then friends who have kindly given me more time to write them, and wondering if I'll finish them soon enough anyway.
And completing the paperwork to register for final exams at the Jung-Institut, while wondering whether I'll finish them, at least as soon as I want to...
A burst of torrential rain against the window; then, soon after, sun.
Plans and aspirations are still chugging along: will I finish at the Jung-Institut, will I retire from the University in a year or two, will I move to Barcelona, or another city?
I got rather – well, direct – with my landlord about repainting the damaged stairwell – which was finally done last week, in a single morning, after waiting for two years...
If I don't move anywhere – if I can't – will I be able to stay in this apartment? Will I have health care?...
Of course all of these aims and concerns are framed in a series of if-clauses, of codified uncertainties: a necessary set of caveats – and the inevitable internal judgments: if I never finish this, if I never finish that, if I never move, this hasn't been so bad. If these things never happened, I would be all right.
More, perhaps, like Prior than like Chris: and perhaps more like Prior than like Linda....
What does it mean to end things, to go on, or finish, or say good-bye to, when the focus is no longer on a future event or context?
When the good-bye feels like the main element of meaning in the entire process?...