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Wednesday, 23 August 2006


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Nicely done, Scott. I do think that the effect could be encapsulated as going high with the low, or low with the high. But you grind it down here nicely.

Trixie bearing her breasts and eventually what Leopold Bloom would call her "all" (Nausicaa) was something, eh? Iconic. Long history of that, and Milch deployed it brilliantly. As well as Wu's hang dai moment with "Swingen."

I do think that Sean's right to call attention to the politics in play, however. Coalition of the willing vs. the outlying hypercapitalist, who nonetheless can't stop regretting that he's waging war on his own. Sort of Eliot Spitzerism writ large....

I don't think the hooples are going to rise, alas.

But then there's the disability front, with the guy who works for Farnum, as well as, god, what's her name, the one who works for Swearingen. Fantastic when everyone has to slowly follow her up the stairs this episode. (My mother's got rather advanced MS - I've followed slowly upstairs lots in my time...)

Anyway, can't believe they've canned this show. Bright side: the Wire starts soonish. Which might just be the best they've ever done, HBO. And plus, for us academic types, this season's focus (after having done drugs, unions, real estate) is on education.

Scott Eric Kaufman


I do think that the effect could be encapsulated as going high with the low, or low with the high.

Well, I'd already done that:

The thing about the language of Deadwood is that it's too high to represent the miners' argot but way, way too low to be Shakespeare or Milton. So the Shakespearean or Miltonian reaches are exactly that, an attempt to uplift, rhetorically, the sordid deeds they do. The show lays bear, breaks down the violence that Shakespearean diction masks by virtue of being, well, Shakespearean.

The thing is, I'm increasingly cognizant of the fact that I say things, run on hunches, but rarely take the time to do the work. I know I'm right—at least, I think I know I am—but no one ever makes me show my work. (Outside of the dissertation, that is.) Another way to say this is that I'm increasingly skeptical of my snap judgments on matters not related to my dissertation. So much so that I wonder whether, if I'm forced to show my work, I can produce. So I'm working through my anxieties ... in public ... about television shows.

But then there's the disability front, with the guy who works for Farnum, as well as, god, what's her name, the one who works for Swearingen. Fantastic when everyone has to slowly follow her up the stairs this episode. (My mother's got rather advanced MS - I've followed slowly upstairs lots in my time...)

You're thinking of Jewel. Her relationship to Swearengen is ... interesting, especially considering the typical treatment not only of the disabled, but of disabled Civil War vets at the time.

Bright side: the Wire starts soonish.

I haven't started this one yet. I'm a tremendous David Simon fan, I just haven't been in the mood for it. What do I mean? Well, last night I watched the first half of Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. My response?

Am I the only one who didn't know THAT THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE made it there before FEMA or the National Guard? Jesus Christ, the MOUNTIES! THE MOUNTIES!

Add in the sound of feet-stomping, hair-tearing, arm-waving and muffled screaming, and you'll see why I'm not quite ready to watch The Wire yet. Until this administration abdicates the throne, I'm on a strict outrage-management diet ...

Anyway, can't believe they've canned this show.

I haven't started watching the third season yet, but I don't know it isn't better to end it unnaturally. First, that's just poetic. Second—to circle back to what we talked about the other day—it leaves it a work of utopian literature, something Jameson would of approve of, at least. It's historical, but lacks the teleology of history. The hooples aren't going to rise, no; but neither have they been put beneath the boot. I mean, I'm pretty sure most of us know what happens to Deadwood. There's a natural end to this story—one I hesitate to tell, lest any of y'all don't know it—and it transforms the show into a tragedy, simplifying the themes Sean discusses into familiar, palatable palaver. I'm not sure it isn't better "ending" with a sudden, unexpected sto


Masterful use of profanity is so rare, aside from maybe the language of love no language is more abused than the language of abuse (take rap, at this point in the game each f-bomb makes a rapper seem less rather than more menacing). So it's nice to see Deadwood and this line in particular getting a well deserved nod from the academic world.


On the money.


I need this analysis to go further. It's my impression that the language becomes more self-consciously Shakespearean in the second season, that there are more solilquies carried out in iambic pentameter. I'd like to know whether you can discern what the regulations are for use of iambic pentamenter, when Milch's characters use it and when they don't, and why, and how does this compare to Shakespeare.

I mean, if you're going to work for free....


It's mostly Swearengen who gets the full-on ip sounding soliloquies. And generally at moments of heightened intensity during season 2 (yes, you're right - Milch amps it up in the second season). Very few other characters get this treatment. Bullock certainly doesn't - he never says enough to put lines together so that you might hear it.

I actually think Milch has gone a bit far with Swearengen's discourse this season. He rarely speaks except in soliloquy. It's like Dan will ask him what to do next, and he'll rip off a 20 liner... Whereas in the second season, it was reserved as I said above, for moments of heightened intensity, self-reflection, rhetorical self-presentation, etc.

I guess Farnum gets a couple, now and then. But Hearst speaks prose, as does Bullock, as do the hooples and hos and sundry mechanicals.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Thanks, LDJ.

slolernr, I don't do requests. I mean, sure, I do them ... but I can't let anybody know that, or then I'll have to do them. Still, I feel drained of all I have to say about Deadwood's prose for now. But since I'll be re-watching the second season before I watch the third, there's a good possibility I'll follow up on this line of thought. (Esp. now that it's been started. Damn it, this means I'll have to take notes while watching it. I don't mind, but you can imagine what The Little Womedievalist thinks.)

Also, I dig the fact that I've gotten comments from Roger Mexico and slolernr in the past 24 hours.


Die welt ist alles, was der fall ist, Scott Eric.

Bullock in fact scarcely speaks at all after a while. I think in the last episode but one he had one line.

I think there's more ip than just Swearengen and E.B., but this reflects nothing more rigorous than occasional counting syllables on my fingers while watching. (I can't bring myself to take notes either. But someone should.)

Kevin Andre Elliott

This is what I get for taking time off from blogs? I miss a great discussion about Deadwood. Geez. I can't catch a break.

I have some catching up to do before I lay my two cents on the table.

I will say that I too think there is more ip than Swearengen and EB, I'm currently re-watching seasons one and two, and since I'm not teaching this semester I can indulge my pop culture geek side and start taking notes (If I disappear, it's because my girlfriend finally decided to put me out of my misery).

And The Wire. Well, needless to say I'm also watching all the previous seasons in preperation for the new season. God I love that show.


Someone should take notes, because I could swear that EB is more prone to soliloquies, particularly in the second season. Or, maybe it's just that EB plays the fool, and his little self-righteous speeches are more inane and seem more lonely than any alone time Swearengen gets, so they stick out in my mind more. There's a fairly entertaining article on what the writers are aiming for with the language in July's American Heritage--it is intended to fall somewhere between Shakespeare, The Bible, and Foul-mouthed Roughneck.

swaygen san fransisco cocksucker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cy tolliver on the merits of fornication

the long suffering richardson relentlessly belittled longs for retribution.

Julian Evans

Been watching Deadwood recently. Absolutely love it. Made me think of writing a book about this golden age of TV we're in at the moment, from HBO - Six Feet Under, Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood. i think six foot might be better than deadwood in terms of emotional range, but Deadwood is fascinating from the point of view of the civilizing process, if anyone's read that, how society develops through the development of new technology and the spread of capital, and how this creates pacified places, increasing demands of civility and behaviour, increasing hypocrisy. think of the civilizing of calamity jane in season 2, for example. or how trixie gradually makes herself swear less in front of alma garrett. at the same time, there are wild forces within us which push against this encroaching civility and want to break out. you could see the killing of william by the wild horse as an example of this - the riding of the bicycle as a symbol of progress and civility, then the escaped horse as a symbol of the forces of chaos fighting back.

Jim Beaver

As the guy who spoke these lines in "Deadwood," I'd like to thank you for an impressive analysis. Not that I know anything about such things.

Jim Beaver

The Little Womedievalist

Does this mean that the only living man who can claim to have stood before the Swedgin 'now' (or then, as it were) beholden to no human coque-succour, and who happened to deliver the best line ever on any in these whereabouts? (If so, I stand before you now, husband, beholden to only one human coque-succour: Ellsworth.)

Dear J.B./ Ellsworth: If there is any possibility whatsoever that David Milch might write something that is remotely Chaucerian, will you PLEASE be a part of it? (PLEASE?!)

And if D. Milch doesn't see the obvious potential here for a re-make of the "Nun's Priest's Tale," well, .... ...... (long silence due to a lack of anything more clever to say...)


just as the dialogue in NYPD Blue seemed cool and edgy at the time, and now seems like a strained attempt at mimicking tough-guy culture, I think the dialogue on Deadwood will seem simliarly stupid in several years.

Well, wasn't your friend a hoople-head? Almost five years later and yours was the more spot-on analysis. Well done.


I hadn't thought about it like that. Ogged's been proven wrong. By History!

Joe Camel

True this show is deeper now than it was when it came out. I'd say many characters indulged into the IP though. Ellsworth got there sometimes, Farnum did it often but ONLY as a way to parrot Al (which is why it's hackneyed, cheap, cliche, melodramatic, and silly). Charlie Utter would get into it if he had a long enough line. Cy Tolliver as well, once or twice, really chewed on it. God remember how his words danced around that scene with the two kids who were conning him? Trixie. Langrishe. Merrick. The Reverend who died who's name I'm regrettably forgetting. Maybe Bill. Like Shakespeare, they assigned the potential to break into iamb to characters as to reflect their nature. Poets, thinkers, philosophers, spiritualists, whatever. Those who are stuck with prose are the straight-minded go-getters who are the ones permeating the place with civilization's brand of normality. Hearst, Bullock, Alma, Cochran, Wolcott, Jane. Although Jane got poetic and slipped into verse when she'd get to cursing.


Don't any of you have anything better to do?

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