A nd so the story ends. Or rather, begins again, with a faint voice asking “Isn’t this where..” Those fans who like resolute endings cast about for one, turning to Pink Floyd’s follow-up album (the last one recorded with Roger Waters at the helm), the Final Cut, finding (or perhaps forcing) remarkable similarities between Pink and the narrator of many of the latter album’s songs. Some go so far as to tout it as a loose sequel to the Wall, one that gives possible hints about Pink’s fate after the last of his bricks fell. Regardless of whether one finds echoes of Pink in other albums, the Wall itself concludes inconclusively. That is to say, it circles back on itself, ending where it started. Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Mariner’s compulsive need to tell his tale to anyone who will listen, the album cycles back to the beginning for a retelling to another audience; and like the wedding guest to whom the Mariner related his story, we are left “a sadder and a wiser man.” Through the imaginative storytelling and a metaphor that translates equally well to both the microcosm of the individual and the macrocosm of society, we are certainly wiser to what Waters’ sees as the detrimental, soul-robbing effects of personal and social isolationism; though still, sadder all the same to the notion that even after the collapse of one wall, another is built and the cycle repeats.

Yet in the end, Pink’s story becomes less about a singular rock star and more about us, the audience, and the world we live in. Similarly, the characters in Pink’s story are just as universal as its protagonist. While they are never given names throughout the entire album, their roles in Pink’s life define their personalities as Mother, Father, Teacher, and Spouse, possibly mirroring those very same characters in our lives. These could very well be our Mothers, Fathers, Teachers, and Loved ones. Accordingly, Pink’s story could be our own. In a sense, Pink’s story IS our own. Though the details are no doubt different, the underlying themes of humanity and its subsequent degradation as a result of personal and societal disconnection are universal. These themes apply to our lives and our world just as much as they apply to Pink’s fictional (yet just as authentic) story. Just like the “bleeding heats” in “Outside the Wall,” Pink Floyd has taken it upon themselves to convey this timeless story of personal decay, perhaps in the hopes that these omnipresent patterns, these cycles of violence, might be averted. Such is the ultimate aim of art: to illuminate, to edify. Pink’s story is finished. He constructed his wall, fell into moral decay because of it, and ultimately destroyed this isolating barrier. Our story, however, is still taking place. What happens to Pink soon becomes nowhere near as important as what happens to us. How do we live our lives? Are we currently constructing or tearing down those hindrances that produce disconnection and degeneration? How do our personal walls contribute to those of our nation, our world? How much of the world’s ills are we really responsible for? Most importantly, which versions of Pink will we choose to be?
As for Roger Waters, the man whose autobiographical blood and bones prop up the flesh of the character Pink, the story is similarly unending. Leading up to his 2010 – 2011 world tour with the Wall 30 years after the album’s original tour, Waters spoke of his own wall to Rolling Stone magazine, saying “It comes down brick by brick. That’s what growing up is. I would suggest [growing up is] a dismantling of our wall, brick by brick, and discovering that when we let our defenses down, we become more lovable. I’m not saying I’ve discarded my wall or walls entirely,” he concludes. “But over the years, I’ve allowed more of it to crumble – and opened myself to the possibility of love.”

Both Pink and Waters, it would seem, finally found their way home.

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