The fallacy of imitative form

Not that I have a dog in the fight over the ending of the final episode of The Sopranos – and how could I, never having watched the show – but I wonder how fans of the conclusion would square this

“Sure, I was frustrated,” [Richard Walter, of the UCLA Film School] said of the final cut-to-black as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” played on the jukebox. “But you don’t want everything tied up with a neat ribbon on it. I don’t know what’s going to happen in MY life. Do you know what’s going to happen in yours?”

…with this:

To say that a poet is justified in employing a disintegrating form in order to express a feeling of disintegration, is merely a sophistical justification for bad poetry, akin to the Whitmanian notion that one must write loose and sprawling poetry to “express” the loose and sprawling American continent.

Tom Robbins once said that “the purpose of art is to provide what life does not.” Your mileage may vary, of course.

Carry on, then!

(Cross-posted.)

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “The fallacy of imitative form

  1. DBK

    Haven’t seen remarks about the fallacy of imitation since college. Thanks for reminding me of Dan McCall.

  2. if you ever want a perfect demonstration of how stylist form can be liberating and liberated check the sonnets of e.e. cummings.

  3. Just a guess, but I imagine we’ll be talking about The Sopranos in film and media criticism longer than we’ve talked about Yvor Winters in modern poetry. Winters seems to me to be a great example of what W. S. DiPiero described when he said “Lesser art does not challenge itself, does not become adversarial; it can only breed its own unquestioned, and sometimes quite moving, perfections. It’s singular and meticulously idiosyncratic. Eventually it proves itself to be what its time wants, not what it needs.”

  4. I imagine we’ll be talking about The Sopranos in film and media criticism longer than we’ve talked about Yvor Winters in modern poetry.

    Ouch!

    I cannot disagree…though odds are that we’ll be talking about American Idol in pop culture at least as long as The Sopranos. Not sure what that says.

  5. DBK

    I have a feeling I’ll be talking about what I’m going to have for dinner much more often and with greater interest than I am going to be talking about The Sopranos. I’m pretty sure what that says: I’m hungry.

  6. Dan Gleason

    The Tom Robbins comment was right on the money. “The Sopranos” wasn’t some real life docudrama. It was entertainment; it was fiction; it deserved a better crafted ending, no matter what it was. Writer/director Chase must have been rolling up his calzones and smoking them. College students in writing classes can write endings that are still subtle and with much more impact than this one.

    If people will be discussin American Idol longer than “The Sopranos,” or “The Sopranos” longer than some really great novelist, it proves that they are idiots who belong on Greyhound buses.

  7. Good use of the Robbins quote. Whatever happened to closure? I think it’s responsibility of the writer to provide his/her version of the ending of the story in some definitive way. Let people argue about that if they want, but don’t try to screw with people’s heads with ambiguous endings. Cheap trick.

  8. Pingback: Jon Swift: The Last Sopranos Finale Review Ever

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