A deep and meaningful end of ARC for Panulirus crew as they finally reach St Lucia. Guy Hoare reports 21/12/06
“Das Ende! Das Ende!” So sings a despairing Wotan to his rather bemused Valkyrie daughter in the middle of Act 2 of Wagner’s Die Walküre. It’s an interesting paradox. Despite the fact that often endings are things of happiness, signals of completion and resolution, more often than not the idea of the end seems inextricably bound up with notions of death, destruction and acopalypse.
When Jim Morrison sings “This is the end, beautiful friend, the end” you get the distinct impression that we are not meant to smile, rejoice, and crack out the Krug. Similarly, when we are accosted in the high street by the old man with the sandwich board proclaiming “The End is Nigh”, it seems inappropriate to dance a merry jig; even without any explanatory context we are fairly certain that he bears a message of doom and gloom, and not an indicator of the end of unpleasant things like hunger, poverty or a German opera. Ends have always mystified and fascinated artists.
Some artworks remain tantalisingly unfinished, and not always because death has interrupted the artist in question. Sometimes finding a way to end what one has begun can prove an enormous struggle, which goes some way to explaining the length of many of Wagner’s operas. It also probably explains why the circle has throughout history been so popular in art: it’s the simple resolution, the quick conclusion – being naturally complete in and of itself, it needs no end and lets the artist off the hook.
Ultimately, every time we encounter an end, we are forced to question what, if anything, is to come after that end. The prospect that nothing will follow is inherently daunting and doom-laden, but the alternative, the suggestion that something new will follow, brings with it, of necessity, the sense that it too will surely end eventually. This becomes a vicious circle, a philosophical minefield. All of which perhaps explains our mixed emotions and existential angst on board Panulirus right now: we have just reached St Lucia. Our journey is at an end.