What is the lowest rung of hell? What is located there? What sinners are damned to its eternal torments?
I'm hoping that it's reserved for people who badger creative types to reveal the meanings of purposefully ambiguous moments in fiction. People who ask David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, what happened at the end of that famous, culture-changing show.
In the final episode (spoilers, duh) Tony and his family sit down in a New Jersey diner. He is distracted. Meadow, his daughter, is attempting to parallel park the car outside. Don't Stop Believin' is playing on the jukebox. The door to the diner opens. Tony looks up. Smash cut to black - the show is over.
What happened? Is Tony whacked? Is it just a patron? Is this Tony's life now, one where he's looking over his shoulder forever? Or is his journey ended, as a bullet immediately destroys his consciousness?
What's cool is that you can decide for yourself. You can think about it and mull it over and give it consideration. You can revisit the series to take it as a whole. You can maybe change your mind about it. I have a pretty solid idea - he's alive, and this is just what it's like forever for him - but you can have your own idea. And in the other booth in the diner a top spins, and in another booth MacReady and Childs are sharing an iced coffee. And you can have your own thoughts on all of them.
It's amazing to have your own thoughts.
But some people cannot abide thinking for themselves, cannot stand any uncertainty in their narrative. They need it spelled out like a Wikipedia page. And these people have been hounding David Chase about the ending of The Sopranos for years.
One of these people is Martha P. Nochimson, who apparently was friendly with Chase and got him to tell her, in what seems like a private conversation, whether or not Tony is dead at the end of The Sopranos.
"No... No, he isn't."
I'm bummed about this article that Nochimson wrote, because it's good. It's an interesting examination of Chase as an artist and of the concept of endings. But to make these points she felt the need to kill and pin the butterfly - she killed the thing she is admiring. No one should ever go on the record about the ending of The Sopranos, and I imagined a world where after Chase passes away people come forward with conflicting stories of what Chase told them about the ending.
Because knowing is sometimes less fun than thinking. I like to have the butterfly out in the field, and I'm happy to ponder it from a distance.
The title of this article is a question, by the way, because of the strange place this story occupies in journalism. It doesn't seem like Chase was telling this to her on the record. Was he being honest? Was he just ending the conversation because he was sick of the question? Will there still be someone who shows up with a totally different versison of what Chase told them in private?
I hope so.