“When I asked him about the meaning of life, Dr. Webb got very quiet and then told
me that life has no one meaning, it only has whatever meaning each of us puts on our own life. I’ll tell you now that I still don’t know the meaning of mine.” (p. 227)
Anthropology, the comparative study of human societies, cultures and development, is often noted in the book Where Things Come Back with the different story lines of tragedy and lost hope including a missing little brother, an extinct bird and a misplaced missionary. There are four types of anthropology: sociocultural, biological/physical, archaeology and linguistics. For this book, the main focus is sociocultural anthropology, which examines social patterns with an interest in how people live in certain place and how they create meaning. This book gives off a sort of pseudo-life, or fake life, essence. However, overall it is a search for meaning and second chances, specifically looking at the idea of Aristotle’s telos, which is the idea that everything has a purpose and an endpoint.
The majority of the book is written in the pessimistic viewpoint of main character Cullen Writter. He constantly mentions how, no matter who leaves the town of Lily, Arkansas, they would always come back. “It was like Arkansas’s version of a black hole; nothing could escape it.” (p. 35) Studying the lives of all the people who grew up before them, they could see that they were not going to leave Lily, not for long anyway. Every teenager lived with the same hope of leaving, but all saw that reality of being stuck in the town forever. They didn’t feel they had a purpose because Lily would forever be there endpoint. However, even being the pessimist he was, Cullen still continued to hope for to a brighter ...
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...o insanity that he began to misinterpret situations to fit his desires. Cabot not only lost a roommate but also lost a child and had his wife leave him. With such impactful events, someone could be easily driven into madness. That was his endpoint.
Aristotle believed we all have a purpose and an endpoint. He thought if someone was to describe something without saying its purpose, they did not fully understand the object itself. “Here’s the thing about zombies: They are supposed to be killed. You just have to do it. Humans are obligated to kill zombies, just as zombies have an obligation to seek out humans and feast on their flesh.” (p. 14) Like humans and zombies have a purpose together, telos states as do we. People live by deriving the hope of others and they continue by looking forward to the future. And in the town of Lily, Arkansas, it is where things come back.
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