Saturday, August 7, 2010


Closure is a term persistently used relative to the modern short story.  In some ways, the term , at least as it relates to the conclusion or ending helps distinguish the evolving modern short story from its grandparents which end with what you call an ending or even a punch line, possibly even a resolution. 

To your mind, closure is too reflective of psychology and particularly what you have come to think of as television psychology wherein friends and relatives of a murder victim get closure when the perpetrator is brought to justice, convicted, and punished, or perhaps when someone gets closure after the death of a loved one or the break up of a marriage, even one in which the divorcing partners bear no particular animosity to one another.

It is quite true that pain experienced in the past loses much of its immediacy, seems remote.  However painful a hangover, the memory of the most recent does not prevent overindulgence as much as it ought. Today's headache is always worse than last week's; today's painful lesson more intense than last year's.

You cringe when you hear the word "closure" used in any dramatic sense but it is an even deeper cringe when the implication moves toward the psychological, as though most of us ever close off the effects of an experience that has touched us deeply.  

We "get over" aspects of losses or tragedies; we soldier on--at least many of us do, and days, weeks, perhaps even months elapse between memories that cause us to revisit the pain and yes, often on those revisiting occasions, the ache of immediate loss and grief have morphed into a bittersweetness where we have mixed in some of the pleasure, which also remains in some degree, but "getting over" is a relative term, we become acceptant, moving on in our own time and way, perhaps even with a new relationship, a new object in our life to move us away from what once was, but closure sounds and seems to slick, too pat to be reflective of the way the human condition works.

Since November of 1997, you have been touched and pleased by the active presence in your life of a half Australian Cattle Dog, half Australian Shepherd mix who goes by the name of Sally and who pretty much accompanies you where ever you go, but as you cast your eyes on the painting Barnaby Conrad has done of her predecessor, an outrageous bargain basement mixture of breeds named Molly, you are out there raw for a moment of grief and loss before the sweetness of memory kicks in to remind you of Molly's companionship that went on just short of twenty years.  

That is not closure, because before Molly there was a certain Blue Tick Hound named Edward and there is no closure there either, just an extraordinary relief that you had such a friend as Edward and your sad awareness that Blue Ticks do not tend because of their natures to reach advanced years.

Perhaps there is some closure in having had people and things in your life and not allowing yourself to feel too attached to them because their loss can be such a grief, but if this is so, you are glad you are not such a person and that you do not go around having closure with things that are no longer available to you.  They are available in your thoughts and dreams; they are a part of you and you will never be quit of them.

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

Closure to me has always meant that the stressor or trauma, whatever the case may be has finally been concluded so that the grieving process can begin. It is a shift from the crisis into picking up the pieces with the hope that they can be placed back into some kind of workable order, even though you know they'll never fit the same way ever again. It is a relief of pressure, but no, it doesn't alleviate the pain or cause the memory to go away.

As to a short story, well it is a matter of semantics I suppose, but I have always used the word "conclusion" over the word "closure" to denote the end. It signifies not just the end, but I hope a lesson learned as well.