Aug 13, 2007
John from Cincinnati concluded on HBO tonight - you'll find my review, and links to my reviews of all the episodes, here - but in this post I wanted to reflect a little on the salient characteristic of the series: ambiguity, also known as lack of clarity.
I don't think I've ever seen a television show - including Twin Peaks - so brazenly unresolved. The question, then: is that good?
People complained about the open, ambiguous ending of The Sopranos. Well, John from Cincinnati was ambiguous at the beginning, the middle, or the end?
Good or bad?
The murkiness of the show will certainly make it memorable. Is it always necessary to have clear-cut resolutions in our narratives?
I've been criticized for not tying up more loose ends at the of my time-travel novel, The Plot to Save Socrates - in particular, for one major character (no, not Socrates). I don't know ... I ended my novel that way because it felt good, right.
After all, life is usually ambiguous in its endings, not resolved, so why do some of us insist upon resolution in our fiction?
I think John for Cincinnati was probably too unresolved throughout for my tastes in narrative. I don't mind a murky jewel at all, but I like seeing a little more light through it, when I hold it up in my mind for scrutiny, at least some of the time.
But I suspect John from Cincinnati will be scrutinized for light and meaning for a long time to come.