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Spoilers are to be found if you click the links below:
 
Alex Miller Jr., "True Detective," The Curator, April 9, 2014:
... Marty: “You know the real difference between you and me?”
Rust: “Yup: denial.”
Marty:  “The difference is that I know the difference between an idea and a fact. You are incapable of admitting doubt. Now that sounds like denial to me.”
Rust: “I doubt that.”
   This dialogue crackles because it bares the human needs that fuel each partner’s compensatory obsession with the murder. Rust, who views humanity as “sentient meat,” the product of an evolutionary accident that put consciousness into the “thresher” of fleshly existence, insists to Marty late in their partnership that “however illusory our identities are, we craft those identities by making value judgements. Everybody judges all the time. Now, you got a problem with that, you’re living wrong.” Marty responds to this with fantastic incomprehension (“What’s scented meat?”), but Rust’s philosophizing has put a finger on both their problems nonetheless. Slowly, each man begins to dedicate more and more of his personal resources to the case, and we get the sense that the inevitable collapse of their relationships is what they actually needed deep down; as if their own identities depended on giving the murdered girl a past, and that anything short of an air-tight solution to the case would result in personal dooms so terrible they might as well be paralleled by interpersonal ones.
   ... True Detective drew its audience in with the sensational and macabre. It will retain that audience with a refined plot, muscular dialogue and surprisingly refined moral sense. The success of recent HBO dramas has proven that shock factor can propel a narrative a good long way, but many of their claims to seriousness turn out to be based on the confusion of the brutal with the deep. When someone dies in Game of Thrones, they usually die terribly, but they rarely die significantly. But death is always significant in True Detective; in fact, its characters spend the length of the show trying to escape the demands of the dead so they can get back to the business of living ...

 
Grace J. Humbles, "Meeting the Grotesque in True Detective," The Curator, May 5, 2014:
... Pizzolatto explains his idea for what became a controversial ending to True Detective: “To me, the challenge was to not only let these guys live, but show true character change through this journey. That passing through the eye of the needle in the heart of darkness has actually done something to them. . . . We don’t know what kind of life they’ll have. But I think we can be sure that each man is more willing to acknowledge the presence of grace. That was one of the ways that they both failed the same: Neither man would accommodate the idea of grace for their own reasons. Where I wanted them to go in their journeys wasn’t a point of redemption or conversion or even closure but a point of deliverance.” This is the kind of fiction O’Connor writes about in “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction.” Southern writers who truly understand the grotesque are the ones who write with an eye toward mystery—they want to push the limits of the everyday, because that’s where the real story is. O’Connor writes, “Such a writer will be interested in what we don’t understand rather than in what we do. . . [h]e will be interested in characters who are forced out to meet evil and grace and who act on a trust beyond themselves – whether they know very clearly what it is they act upon or not.” ...

 

In other news, it appears that Brad Pitt is close to signing up to star in Season 2.

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Grace J. Humbles, "Meeting the Grotesque in True Detective," The Curator, May 5, 2014:

... Pizzolatto explains his idea for what became a controversial ending to True Detective: “To me, the challenge was to not only let these guys live, but show true character change through this journey. That passing through the eye of the needle in the heart of darkness has actually done something to them. . . . We don’t know what kind of life they’ll have. But I think we can be sure that each man is more willing to acknowledge the presence of grace. That was one of the ways that they both failed the same: Neither man would accommodate the idea of grace for their own reasons. Where I wanted them to go in their journeys wasn’t a point of redemption or conversion or even closure but a point of deliverance.” This is the kind of fiction O’Connor writes about in “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction.” Southern writers who truly understand the grotesque are the ones who write with an eye toward mystery—they want to push the limits of the everyday, because that’s where the real story is. O’Connor writes, “Such a writer will be interested in what we don’t understand rather than in what we do. . . [h]e will be interested in characters who are forced out to meet evil and grace and who act on a trust beyond themselves – whether they know very clearly what it is they act upon or not.” ...

 

This is an excellent piece. And the author's name is Grace? Wonderful!

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NBooth   

Those are both good pieces--especially the Humbles essay. This series is demanding a re-watch. I'm really hoping there's a commentary track on the DVDs.

Edited by NBooth

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M. Leary   

Those are both good pieces--especially the Humbles essay. This series is demanding a re-watch. I'm really hoping there's a commentary track on the DVDs.

 

You should expand on your above comments at Filmwell. Your comments are the first thing that has actually convinced me to watch the series after my initial disfavor.

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NBooth   

 

Those are both good pieces--especially the Humbles essay. This series is demanding a re-watch. I'm really hoping there's a commentary track on the DVDs.

 

You should expand on your above comments at Filmwell. Your comments are the first thing that has actually convinced me to watch the series after my initial disfavor.

 

 

Now that I finally have this (honestly, kinda hectic) semester behind me, I should have time to do that very thing.

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I might hold as suspect any Christian media article written by someone named "Grace Humbles," but since I actually know Grace Humbles, I can assure you that this is all legit.

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NBooth   

 

 

Those are both good pieces--especially the Humbles essay. This series is demanding a re-watch. I'm really hoping there's a commentary track on the DVDs.

 

You should expand on your above comments at Filmwell. Your comments are the first thing that has actually convinced me to watch the series after my initial disfavor.

 

 

Now that I finally have this (honestly, kinda hectic) semester behind me, I should have time to do that very thing.

 

 

Eleven days later, here's the promised post. Much of it'll be familiar from my posts above, but I've rearranged some thoughts and sharpened others.

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Tyler   

Season 2 will have 3 leads and take place in California, says Nic Pizzolatto.

 

 

“Right now, we’re working with three leads. It takes place in California — not Los Angeles, but some of the much lesser known venues of California — and we’re going to try to capture a certain psychosphere ambiance of the place, much like we did in season one,” he said. “The characters are all new, but I’m deeply in love with each of them. We’ve got the entire series broken out with a couple of scripts, and we’ll probably start casting in earnest in the coming months.”

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Tyler   

Taylor Kitsch, too, which means no one will watch and the show will be cancelled 4 episodes into the season.

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NBooth   

Vince Vaughn? Wouldn't be be more comfortable on Bates Motel?

Edited by NBooth

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Tyler   

More details, from The Wrap.

 

 

Vince Vaughn is in talks to play the central antagonist (not necessarily the villain or murderer – this is a mystery-based series after all) on the second season of HBO's “True Detective,” while “Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss is being eyed for the female lead and “The Killing's” Michelle Forbes is in contention for a key role on the show, TheWrap has learned.

 

Colin Farrell is nearing a deal to star, while Taylor Kitsch is the frontrunner to play the younger male lead, as TheWrap first reported.

 

HBO had no comment on casting decisions.

According to a breakdown obtained by TheWrap, the second season of “True Detective” will follow the death of Ben Caspar, the corrupt city manager of a fictional California city who's found brutally murdered amid a potentially groundbreaking transportation deal that would forever change freeway gridlock in the state. Three law enforcement officers from different cities and branches of the government are tasked with finding out who did it. They soon discover their investigation has much broader and darker implications than they initially thought.

 

Caspar's 52-year-old corpse is found on a lonely stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur — satanic symbols etched on his chest. It turns out he had a penchant for rough sex and may have been involved in the occult.

 

Vaughn is in talks to play Frank Semyon, a former thug-turned-businessman who's working with a local mayor and his political cohorts to spearhead the construction of a high-speed railway system that links Southern California to Northern California in order to reap financial gains from federal grants and land purchases.

 

Moss, who recently played a small-town cop in the similarly themed, “Top of the Lake,” is being eyed to play Ani Bezzerides, a tough, no-nonsense Monterey sheriff whose troubled upbringing has driven her to gambling and alcohol.

 

Farrell is nearing a deal to play Ray Velcoro, who has been damaged by years of turmoil in both his personal and professional lives.

 

Kitsch is angling for the role of Paul Woodrugh, a handsome, 28-year-old military veteran who has seen his own share of violence and destruction. Forbes, who starred on the first season of “The Killing,” has been rumored for a part on “True Detective,” and it's possible she could play either Farrell's ex-wife (a survivor of sexual assault) or Vaughn's charming but mercurial wife.

 

The story also says Andrew Dominik had been rumored to direct the season, but probably won't because of other commitments.

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NBooth   

 

So is Vaughn.

 

Meanwhile, there are accusations of plagiarism. I never get these controversies, since it's almost always apparent that the lifting is done in the interest of re-contextualization--and, besides, isn't anything that Eliot [or Shakespeare!] would be a stranger to. Nevertheless:

 

Mike Davis: You contend that Nic Pizzolatto, the writer/creator of the HBO series, True Detective, appropriated a significant amount of intellectual content and language from The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, a nonfiction book by Thomas Ligotti. You claim that what Pizzolatto didn’t lift whole cloth from that book, he paraphrased—mostly as dialogue for the show’s central character, Rust Cohle. Is there any proof that this is the case?

Jon Padgett: Ample evidence, all of which you can read/see/hear is unmistakably evident below.  (Watch the video at the beginning of this article, and/or read the quotes below; the article continues after the quotes.)

COHLE: We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.

“We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does.” (CATHR, p.111)

COHLE: … we are things that labor under the illusion of having a ‘self’…each of us programmed with total assurance that we’re each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. 

“And the worst possible thing we could know — worse than knowing of our descent from a mass of microorganisms — is that we are nobodies not somebodies, puppets not people.” (CATHR, p. 109)

 

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NBooth   

Edited by NBooth

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M. Leary   

 

Mike Davis: You contend that Nic Pizzolatto, the writer/creator of the HBO series, True Detective, appropriated a significant amount of intellectual content and language from The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, a nonfiction book by Thomas Ligotti. You claim that what Pizzolatto didn’t lift whole cloth from that book, he paraphrased—mostly as dialogue for the show’s central character, Rust Cohle. Is there any proof that this is the case?

Jon Padgett: Ample evidence, all of which you can read/see/hear is unmistakably evident below.  (Watch the video at the beginning of this article, and/or read the quotes below; the article continues after the quotes.)

COHLE: We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.

“We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does.” (CATHR, p.111)

COHLE: … we are things that labor under the illusion of having a ‘self’…each of us programmed with total assurance that we’re each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. 

“And the worst possible thing we could know — worse than knowing of our descent from a mass of microorganisms — is that we are nobodies not somebodies, puppets not people.” (CATHR, p. 109)

 

 

 

 

This is goofy. Cohle's "philosophizing" is so generic and predictable that it is impossible to claim he is lifting it from some specific source. His dialogue is one thing about True Detective that I really don't like, as I couldn't help but hear him as the kind of Reddit commenter that gets a lot of upvotes for their sage wisdom.

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NBooth   

This is goofy. Cohle's "philosophizing" is so generic and predictable that it is impossible to claim he is lifting it from some specific source. His dialogue is one thing about True Detective that I really don't like, as I couldn't help but hear him as the kind of Reddit commenter that gets a lot of upvotes for their sage wisdom.

 

Funny thing is, I liked it for precisely that reason, and I think the show is very aware of how shallow Cohle's philosophy really is. Of course, if Cohle is aping Ligotti, Ligotti is aping Schopenhaur. Derivation is a flat circle.

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NBooth   

If that is the case, is Cohle's final statement in the show enhanced or cheapened? 

 

It shows he knows his Alan Moore, at least.

 

Honestly, the jury's still out for me regarding that final exchange. I tend to think of everything Cohle says as more in the nature of tonal coloring than actual philosophy, and that includes his last lines. Hopefully I'm going to pick up the season set in December and then I'll be able to re-watch and evaluate it again. I do find this argument at i09 compelling, though:

 

[T]he only light we see in this scene isn't cosmic; it's from human-made lighting. Rust can't actually see the true, cosmic light because it is hidden in light pollution, hidden by human-made light just as the true struggle against the Yellow King is hidden behind human religion. Rust may have scored a point against the Yellow King, but it appears that the cosmic entity has knocked Rust off the chessboard.

Then again--perhaps that human-made lighting is part of the light winning.

Edited by NBooth

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M. Leary   

I admit I am still very much undecided on the show as a whole and can't decide which of its perceived flaws are shading aspects of the show I probably actually do like. The element I find so intriguing is the insistence throughout that this series of murders is part of something grander and cosmic - that can only be adequately perceived of in religious terms. And perhaps even - in the argument regarding Cohle's self-sacrifice - responded to in a religious way.

 

I could take Cohle's sub-philosophical musing as a journey from a pre-packaged nihilism to something more substantial if that is the case. The show then harkens back to the great detective novel conceit that these things humans do to each other have material explanations, but such explanations don't solve the actual mysteries behind them. Cohle kind of figures that out here.

 

(This does leave though two significant issues I have with the show, that being the really generic Cohle background as that cop that took the whole undercover thing too far and then became this surly, beer drinking philosopher type. I would have appreciated something better regarding the character development of the two lead detectives in the show overall. And the lauded set piece with the biker gang ripping off a ghetto stash house. It is cool and all, but a lot of creative and financial expenditure on a scene that really has little to do with the overall plot itself... It is just kind of there as something cool that happens.) 

Edited by M. Leary

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Spoilers

'

Just recently finished TRUE DETECTIVE. Couple of quick thoughts: I agree that Cohle's philosophizing is meant to seem a bit shallow. A few of Marty's responses seem to highlight this, particularly one early on when he essentially says that all of Cohle's philosophizing is masking some insecurity. And I think this is definitely the case. It's a bit of a defense mechanism for Cohle because of the trauma he's experienced in his work, but especially in his family. Furthermore, Cohle's actions never quite align with his talk. Given this bit of disjunction in his character, I like the ending quite a bit, which is definitely a change but not as much as some have suggested insofar as he makes the comment about his daughter (the root issue before and after) and insofar as his description of what happened is still given with a naturalist presentation of sorts. What happens to Cohle in the end of the show also strikes me as very similar to descriptions of NDE's that I've read--right down to the latest research that says a very high percentage of people who experience them have their lives altered. They're different people in a good way.

 

Also, regarding the set piece, I thought it was a spellbinding form of characterization of Cohle. It was an extended stretch when we saw a certain side of what he's capable of--a side we'd not seen before to that point. The pacing/rhythm of the scene is also characterizing of Cohle in a sense. It's also a fitting conclusion to the building tension of the episode.

 

I'd like to write an essay about (in)attentiveness that tracks through themes of genre play, detective characteristics, parenting, the passage of time, and the weight of indebtedness.

 

I'm a big fan.

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M. Leary   

 

Also, regarding the set piece, I thought it was a spellbinding form of characterization of Cohle. It was an extended stretch when we saw a certain side of what he's capable of--a side we'd not seen before to that point. The pacing/rhythm of the scene is also characterizing of Cohle in a sense. It's also a fitting conclusion to the building tension of the episode.

 

 

 

I am persuaded. I am just becoming extremely sensitive to what someone else has called the "Grand Theft Auto" impulse in much recent TV, in which little action sequence subplots are continually introduced as a way to fill out a season. Sons of Anarchy is the worst offender (Go to the Mexican Biker gang and retrieve a suitcase. On the way to retrieve the suitcase you need to rescue four exotic dancers. Now take the suitcase to the Irish Mafia for your reward). A few seasons of Walking Dead are not far behind.

 

This is the first show I have seen in a while that has significantly grown in my estimation over time. Nick, you mention a piece above that includes reflection on fatherhood and passage of time - that would be a fantastic piece to read. There are so many avenues in the show for comment. TD sets such a distinct bar for re-thinking noir conceptions of good and evil as religious or cosmic entities rather than simple plot devices. There is a lot of Eliade in the subtext about sacred space and time. 

 

One could, for example, conceivably describe Cohle's fever dream participation in the biker gang ghetto assault as a passage from one part of the TD season to the next, the kind of passage Eliade describes as religious because it involves the kinds of decisions and immediate reflections that in other contexts are deemed religious. 

Edited by M. Leary

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Also, regarding the set piece, I thought it was a spellbinding form of characterization of Cohle. It was an extended stretch when we saw a certain side of what he's capable of--a side we'd not seen before to that point. The pacing/rhythm of the scene is also characterizing of Cohle in a sense. It's also a fitting conclusion to the building tension of the episode.

 

 

 

I am persuaded. I am just becoming extremely sensitive to what someone else has called the "Grand Theft Auto" impulse in much recent TV, in which little action sequence subplots are continually introduced as a way to fill out a season. Sons of Anarchy is the worst offender (Go to the Mexican Biker gang and retrieve a suitcase. On the way to retrieve the suitcase you need to rescue four exotic dancers. Now take the suitcase to the Irish Mafia for your reward). A few seasons of Walking Dead are not far behind.

 

This is the first show I have seen in a while that has significantly grown in my estimation over time. Nick, you mention a piece above that includes reflection on fatherhood and passage of time - that would be a fantastic piece to read. There are so many avenues in the show for comment. TD sets such a distinct bar for re-thinking noir conceptions of good and evil as religious or cosmic entities rather than simple plot devices. There is a lot of Eliade in the subtext about sacred space and time. 

 

One could, for example, conceivably describe Cohle's fever dream participation in the biker gang ghetto assault as a passage from one part of the TD season to the next, the kind of passage Eliade describes as religious because it involves the kinds of decisions and immediate reflections that in other contexts are deemed religious. 

 

 

SPOILER ALERT

 

Ah, yeah, I definitely get what you mean about the "Grand Theft Auto" effect. That's a problem.

 

Regarding parenting/passage of time: totally! You know, my favorite formal move in the series isn't the biker gang ghetto, but the cut that happens when Marty's daughters grow up. The before/after of that cut is so striking and so fitting within the show's concerns/structure. I was stunned by it, particularly set alongside Marty's regret-filled reflections on paying attention to the wrong thing. This show would make for a very interesting candidate for the upcoming Filmwell series if it was eligible.

 

I'm unfamiliar with Eliade, but it seems like a really compelling insight--and not just when applied to True Detective. It really gets at (I think) what I mean about Cohle's actions as not necessarily reflective of his words.

 

One other point about Cohle that I forgot to mention earlier: I think his approach to getting people to confess is *very* revealing of his character, and what he's dealing with.

 

One of my favorite moments from watching the show with friends was early in the season, right before they confront the two guys and stage the shootout, when we get a brief glimpse of the guy they're ultimately looking for, sitting on the riding mower. At the time, I said that I thought he was who they were looking for--which was only partly true at the time. It's a misdirection moment in the series that's kind of pivotal as it relates to the inattentiveness motif.

Edited by Nick Olson

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