top of page

Begin Like the End

In all of media, my favorite narrative device is the "bookend". The overlap between a story's first and final words fits together symmetrically, and yet, you feel the century's worth of journey between them. The experiences of the story change the words' contexts and meaning. The opening shot of A Clockwork Orange of Alex DeLarge's vile yet honest grimace, contrasted by his facetious grin in the second-to-final shot, or the first meeting between two strangers in Before Sunset contrasted with the separation of two lovers at the end, the bookend is a powerful storytelling tool. And yet, we always view the bookend from the end. A look back on the journey we went through, and yet we are incapable of seeing the end from the beginning. Of course, we can't know the end from the beginning. We've yet to see the story, meet the characters, and know the theme. The conflicts are still unclear and, hell, we don't even know what genre the damn thing is. So how do we even know we'll begin like the end?

We don't and that's the nature of any story. We don't know how it'll all end. We could close somewhere far off from where we started, perhaps we changed genres halfway through. Maybe we stop before we could even get anywhere and just meandered in a series of meaningless scenes that went nowhere. Or perhaps the beginning was a ruse, a red herring to throw us off from the real answer, the true culprit of a greater mystery. We simply do not have the evidence this early on to pin down how it's going to end. Despite that, the bookend rewards us for trying. The first words of the story carry this weight, an introduction to the world and how it will grow and develop. The first words may stick with us throughout the journey, or they may be forgotten. And yet when the story's final words appear, all of a sudden it all clicks. Had we remembered the words we feel like a detective that had the answer all along. Had we forgotten, a part of our brain sparks, and the past is slingshotted into the back of your skull as your subconscious connects the dots, you realize then and there that you've been had, and the culprit got away. A feeling that is both simultaneously frustrating and euphoric.

3 views0 comments


bottom of page