Monday, December 17, 2007

To Vagueness...and Beyond -- Jay

Last year, I told you about visiting Disneyland with my wife, and how competitive she can be. Well, it recently happened again. I won the first round of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters...


...but she made me ride it one more time in order to put me in my place.


Ahh, marriage!

Okay, now on to the real meat of this post:

I love vague endings.

Not quirky-vague endings (which leave you scratching your head), but intentionally vague endings that enrich the storytelling experience. I love endings which allow us to use everything we know about the characters to determine what happens next. Or, at least, to guess what happens next.

For me, the perfect example of a successfully vague ending occurs in Lost in Translation. If you don’t like this movie, fine. I know there are a whole bunch of you out there. But I love it. Yet I never recommend it without saying, “There’s a really good chance you won’t like it. It’s kind of...vague.”

The movie is made up entirely of little moments. Little looks. Little gestures. Little phrases. And if you watch it without a willingness to appreciate all of its littleness, you’re not gonna like it. But if you fall in love with its littleness, then its vague ending will seem perfect. Because the ending is another little moment…which, this time, we aren’t allowed to fully witness. The ending is a whisper too soft, and too guarded, to comprehend. It’s a moment shared between the two characters, but it’s not meant for our ears.

What? The final line of the movie is never shared with the audience?

That's right. And it's perfect that way! How weird is that!?!?

But then, last week, Eve sent me the following YouTube clip. In it, someone used digital manipulation to decode that whisper. When I first began watching it, I started sweating. Should I continue watching it? Then I started ripping hairs out of my head. Should I continue watching it? Then I started shaking. Should I…?



I watched the whole dang thing.

And I was so mad. I was mad at Eve for throwing me into such inner-turmoil. I was mad at myself for deciding to ruin the magic of that little moment forever. I was mad at the whisper for being so…vague.

That’s it? That’s all Bill whispers into Scarlett’s ear?

And then I was happy. Because the entire movie, even with its revealed secret ending, was still perfectly vague.

Yes, sometimes the perfect ending is one which allows the viewer (or reader!) to decide what happens next…or what just occurred. For example, at the end of my next book, I decided to

- Jay

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very funny, wiseguy!

Danette

Disco Mermaids said...

Wow! JoanMarie really kicked your




-Robin

Disco Mermaids said...

Sorry, dude. I couldn't resist sending the clip since we've been discussing people's love/hate relationship with LIT lately. Usually I love the obscure, vague movies that you like. But, I just found LIT too boring.

However, the part of the movie I did enjoy was the ending. Then I had to go and ruin it for myself (and you) by watching that clip. But, gotta give Sofia C. credit for being one step ahead of us by keeping the "whisper" just as vague as the silence.

Eve

skittlesforever said...

Hey Jay Asher!
I am a HMS Book Clubber. I noticed that the blog that Mrs.Amy has on the website is the wrong blog for me! so i would still like you to check it out. "lindseysgabpage.blogspot.com"
Sincerly,
a HMS Book Clubber

ps. I hate that you have to miss our meeting!

"You can't STOP the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret......is to press PLAY"

JESSECA said...

HEY ASHER I'M A HMS BOOKCLUB STUDEBT WHO WILL BE ATTENDING THE MEETING!! WELL I WAS JUST GOING TO LET YOU KNOW I HAVE HAD BETTER DAYS SINCE THEN.I LOVE YOUR BOOK! IT IS WONDERFUL!THANKS FOR THE COMMENT!!TALK TO YOU L8ER!!!

Disco Mermaids said...

Skittles & Jesseca -

I can't wait to hear how the discussion went. (For those of you who don't know...which is most of you...their school used my book for their most recent book club selection, and their meeting was tonight.)

Mrs. Stewart's going to send me some pics from the event, and I plan on doing a post all about it in the near future. There are several schools and libraries who now have 13RW on their discussion schedules...but y'all were the first. Woo-hoo!

Take care,
Jay

LINDSEY(SKITTLES) said...

IT JUST SUPRISES ME HOW A BOOK CAN MAKE A SCHOOL FROM NOWHERE SEEM FAMOUS. THE BOOK DISSCUSION WAS AWSOME......HATE U MISSED IT.....OH WELL DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE GOING TO GET TO COME T ALABAMA AND VISIT US YET?? I REALLY WANT TO MEET YOU IN PERSON EVEN THOUGH IT WAS REALLY COOL LISTENING TO THE TAPE YOU SENT US. OH AND CUTE IDEA FOR YOUR AUTOGRAPH. I ALREADY PUT IT IN MY COPY OF THE BOOK.

HANNAH BAKER WOULD HAVE LIKED SLAPOUT ALABAMA!!!!LOL!!!

LOVE LINDSEY

Anonymous said...

LOVED LIT. And, I'm glad I listened to the clip - it seems perfect for the movie. . . to me. Lamy

editrix said...

I always though he said, "Don't ever let them tell you who you are."

I liked the fact that the viewer was able to project their own sentiment on that moment. This digital enhancement ruins that.

And, actually, I like my last line better. (Though I guess, Jay, that shouldn't suprise you.)

-Kristen

editrix said...

I'm sorry. I meant, I always thought he said, "No matter what, don't ever let them tell you who you are."

Mainly because both characters seemed trapped in who they were "supposed" to be. :)

Disco Mermaids said...

Lindsey, I'm working on putting together a visit to several Southern states. For some reason, I hear from more teens down there than anywhere else. Must be cuz y'all rock!!!

Lamy, would you please straighten out your sister? LIT is amazing!

And Kristen...yes, you do know how to make a story end on a perfect note. (And I love how you had to come back and edit you comment! ;-)

- Jay

Colorado Writer said...

Um. Hello. Please visit Colorado, Jay Asher.

cynjay said...

Reading the teen comments reminds me that I'm old and they're cool.

L8R

L1nds3y said...

He can only visit colorado AFTER he visits alabama! becuz we ROCK!!

Anyways...... i hope you have a FABULOUS CHRISTMAS JAY!! YOU ROCK HMS BOOKCLUB'S SOCKS!!!

Love Always,
Lindsey(hms bookclubber)