Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Al Swearengen

It was the final episode of Deadwood last night. Al Swearengen killed two people. One of these was a mercy killing. Aw, the old brute is softening.

And Trixie, the whore who loves Al in spite of eveything- and whom he loves in spite of everything, flashed him a brief smile after several episodes of frostiness. So Al gets a well-deserved happy ending. I'm so glad.

Art is essentially amoral. No that's not right. Art is thoroughly moral; it's just that it works to something other than the Judaeo-Christian system of values. In art we don't particularly love the good and the merciful. Such characters are usually insipid, unconflicted, dull. No, what we go for is energy.

Al, with his spaniel eyes and gorgeous turn of phrase, is full of energy. His energy makes him King of Deadwood. Others aspire, but they shrivel in the sun of his outrageous personality. He hardly needs to kill them; he has already obliterated them with the glory of his superior virtue.

That's "virtue" in the ancient Roman sense. In the sense that one might use it of a class "A" sonofabitch like Julius Caesar.

But is art actually so different from life? How deep is our morality really? Is it anything more than an alibi for timidity and social conformity? Plonk us down in a darkened room in front of the TV screen and the secret's out. We forget all about the blessedness of the meek and revel and roll- like pigs in shit (like the pigs to whom Al feeds the bodies of his victims)- in the wit and wisdom of Al Swearengen.
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