Should have gone without saying, and have been perfectly obvious to Conor P Williams before he set out, that a closed-comments post (actually now two posts) against blog-commenting could only be taken as aggravated trolling, or trolling with special circumstances.
The very title of the show announces a morality tale, an investigation of “good” and “bad,” with an implicit come-on to enjoy the thrill of “breaking” the rules, before finally being delivered up to the proper message- at which point rather than “breaking to or into the bad,” the show will, one presumes with some confidence, finish “breaking the bad”: Hallelujah! The key challenge for the writers has always been, perhaps until now or next Sunday, preserving the thrill but ensuring the wholesome delivery in a way the morally depraved can accept, for their own good, despite themselves. Medieval morality tales almost certainly worked the same way, but Gilligan and company (probably?) cannot rely on horned demons dragging Walt down to painted flames of Hell – or on a chorus of the dead appealing for his salvation.
He didn’t and couldn’t anticipate the consequences of his actions, which is the main theme of the show, that seemingly rational or “scientific” solutions to immediate problems turn into their opposites due to the complex interwovenness of real life or society: i.e., Crime Doesn’t Pay. Even when it seems to pay, it turns you into an unhappy monster, or someone who has “earned” millions of dollars for his family but is unable to put it to use for them in any way. He can’t even find a way to get a fraction of it to them. They don’t even want it.
Soon, in whatever state or state of states or unstate we are found, today’s neo-isolationists of left and right may find themselves exposed to ironies mirroring those now felt by the neo-conservatives of just the other day, who thought they were advancing a needed heightening, deepening, and expansion of engagement, but instead reinforced an older impulse to wash one’s hands of it all.
Every alteration in the American way of war corresponds directly to a re-definition of the American concept – concretely. A long series of expediencies and exigent measures tend to become simply who you are, whatever you might prefer to think or may have previously had in mind.
To the extent we cannot construct or re-construct the principles for a collective right to life in the age of weapons of destruction of the masses and disruption of global-ecological homeostasis, those principles may be expected to construct or re-construct themselves for us, and through us.
For now, as spectators, we may hope that our cheers or jeers may be heard on the field and somehow affect the outcome. From orbit, relieved of any such aspirations, we can see that the deal took the only shape it could take.
The mass annihilation of civilians in war, the conversion of citizens or subjects into eradicable vermin, ought to refer us to events at the inception of the American-centric international order as we know it, its immediate predicate in a shared experience of total war and a victory both in and against it, and its older predicate in the longer movements of history.