josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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15 Jul '12 09:35:57 AM

One thing that clearly stands out in David Simon's book in contrast to the dramatized version of it is that the detectives are given biographies. Their stories, backstories, are told, roughly as they come into prominence because a case they are working has also been described. These biographies overlap with the backstories of the TV characters, but whereas the biographies in the book are interpolated, in relatively whole form (as far as they go), into Simon's account, the characters on the show have to tell, or reveal, their own life stories—and they do so only incidentally and intermittently, to their fellow detectives (or occasionally to witnesses, suspects, romantic prospects, strangers, less often families), in connection with a case or in the conversations that fill up the spare moments that come while working one. In the book, Pellegrini is given a long history of dissatisfaction with his work, with his direction in life. On the show, Bayliss is given some of the same story, like the time spent on the mayor's security detail specifically in order to secure an assignment to the homicide unit. This comes out naturally, given that it's a salient biographical fact for any detective new to the force; it's what he tells the others when they ask where he was before. Other facts of Pellegrini's biography that do or do not, to some degree, show up elsewhere in Bayliss's backstory don't come out then, though, because relation of Bayliss's biography is controlled by the dramatic situation, by its narrative form, rather than being controlled by a journalistic narrative that permits arbitrary suspension, retrogression. (A different show could have used a different form of narrative.)

14 Jul '12 03:05:34 PM

'To murder someone in a house, a killer has first got to gain entry, either at the invitation of the victim or by forcing a door or window. Either way, something is gained by the investigator. The absence of forced entry suggests that the victim and assailant were probably known to each other; forced entry allows for the possibility that the killer has left fingerprints on a windowpane or door frame.'

13 Jul '12 05:07:31 PM

One so often reads sentences in Walser that seem to need their surrounding passages, being too unassuming to be fully meant on their own; and once encountered in this context they reveal that the need for the surrounding passage, the story, to be written at all is something like: to let this one thing be said.

Like: 'Eating seems so appropriate beneath this lofty blue sky'.

7 Jul '12 06:46:07 AM

A turn of phrase that shows David Simon to be literary:

'…you are one of thirty-six investigators entrusted with the pursuit of that most extraordinary of crimes: the theft of a human life. You speak for the dead.'

"Speak for the dead' made it into the show as dialogue, but not, I think, 'the theft of a human life', which is a striking way of making 'taking of a life' sound out more slowly.

With Simon, one expects this to be given an economic reading sooner or later.

4 Jul '12 12:08:35 PM

I don't like being this room's temperature.

2 Jul '12 12:08:37 AM

'I can't speak for…' a person, someone else, but likely someone I know, even someone I may know quite well.

But 'I don't speak for…' an institution, a profession, a party, a group, unless they've said so; nominated, elected, chosen me.

(Yet it is more likely 'I can't speak for all…' than 'I don't speak for all…'. The former evinces awareness of a representative potential in what one will say. The latter denies a presumed representative power, in some cases to claim a more partial but still representative one.)

1 Jul '12 11:53:39 PM

Speaking up; speaking out; speaking out of turn.

Speaking for oneself; speaking for myself; speak for yourself; I think I speak for all of us when I say; he speaks for all of us.

1 Jul '12 11:44:51 PM

Voice; calling out; calling out to you; calling you out; calling on you; calling upon you all.

1 Jul '12 11:32:27 PM

Voice; having a voice; having a say.

Finding your voice; having your say.