The Prophetic Tone in True Detective: Sensing the Time of the Future Disaster

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"Place is going to be under water within thirty years," detective Rustin Cohle says while driving through a disaster-stricken landscape in south Louisiana in the mid 90's. The first season of True Detective, an HBO crime series authored by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga, is tensed on the verge of disaster. In grammatical terms, it depicts a social life in future perfect, a life that will have been above the surface. In this chapter, I explore the prophetic tone in True Detective. By tone, I mean an affective atmosphere that permeates a cultural object, its "affective bearing" in Sianne Ngai's words. The core contention in this chapter is that the concept of tone should be located at the interstice between the sensible and the intelligible. In putting together affect and cognition, the prophetic feeling-tone of True Detective emulates the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. On the one hand, the sensible dimension of the prophetic tone is characterized by its temporal structure; the fictional Louisiana of the show is experienced in the shadow of a catastrophe to come. On the other hand, the intelligible dimension of this tone is dominated by its normative question, a fundamental question about the force of the law. Thus, focusing on the prophetic tone is a way of approaching a specific configuration of aesthetic form, future disaster, and the question of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNaming the Time : Climate Change, Chronotopes and Temporality
EditorsKyrre Kverndokk, Anne Eriksen, Marit Ruge Bjærke
Publication statusSubmitted - 12 Jul 2019

ID: 224086814