On Thursday 16th May, Reverend Michael Wilcockson delivered a talk titled, “Endings” to Wotton’s Society, presenting the diverse endings found in literature, film, history, theology, and philosophy. This was Reverend Wilcockson’s last address to the society as he is retiring from the post of Head of Philosophy after twenty-three years.
The first category of ending Reverend Wilcockson combated were those found in literature and film. He quickly dismissed the endings found in the archetypal Hollywood movies that finish with a victorious protagonist as ‘endist’ on account of their simplicity. Likewise, he said that books can often have an ‘endist’ narrative, such as the Book of Job, which Reverend Wilcockson described as not true to life and mere entertainment. Instead, he said that the films and books, which are authentic, are those whose endings are in the present requiring imagination, such as in the film ‘The Graduate’ where the future of the couple is left open ended.
Historical endings were covered next. Reverend Wilcockson proposed that historical endings were the closest to being ‘real,’ exemplified in impersonal events, such as extinctions. However, throughout history society has often been presented with ‘endist’ endings. This can be seen in the work of Karl Marx, who preached of a glorious future that ended the present or by Kant in his book ‘Towards Perpetual Future.’ Reverend Wilcockson was quick to point out that these views were dangerous, and indeed would require one to have a deterministic outlook on life.
Theological endings provided a new insight to the hitherto negative ‘endism.’ Through the passages in the Reverend Wilcockson demonstrated that Endism in theology gave purpose to lives, as we would live them until the end.
To conclude the talk, Reverend Wilcockson reminded us that endings are elusive, but that living life naturally was far better than planning goals; to live an authentic life, one has to understand endings, and thus live in the eternal present. Following the end of the speech, Reverend Wilcockson received a standing ovation.