We tend to prefer the Aristotelian narratives - those that have a beginning, middle and end. We like them because they have closure. Characters are introduced, we become involved with them, we love them and we hate them, they encounter some trouble, the true nature of their identities are revealed in response to these challenges, and there is resolution in the end. We have closure. We learn from the narrative - there is a message that is left for us to decode.

However, there are other narratives: cyclical narratives. These are the ones we tend to take issue with - they seem like they never end. There is no conclusion, because there is no discernible beginning or end. Of course, the written narrative started on the first page, but in story time, the same pattern could have been repeating itself for ages before that first page, and continued indefinitely after that last page. In fact, the only thing this kind of narrative has provided us with was a mere instance of the whole. These narratives often seem pointless and random - and in many respects they are - but it is exactly because they are so pointless that they are so poignant. Out of all the narratives, the most important lessons are to be taken away from these.

Cyclical narratives present us with the challenge of changing present behaviour in order to stop the past from repeating itself. The thing about cyclical narratives is that nothing gets solved in the end, and we are just left in this cycle of recurring events - blindly experiencing the same situation with different characters. It's important to recognize the message of the cyclical narrative, or else we'll be doomed to experiencing the same things over and over again - and what's the point in reading if we know deep down how it will end each time?
Arianne Tong1 Comment