hard times, hard stories

There’s a new, very angry comment to my first review of Deadwood , by someone who is clearly very upset by this HBO drama for a whole range of reasons. In part:

People, real, living, people are being bombed, shot and humiliated. Hate is alive and well and taking more life away from people than we can count bodies. And yet we freedom-loving, self gratifying Americans are fascinated by pitiful human relationships and vacuums of love and mercy, enough to keep HBO reaching for more. We are a sick folk and we have yet to learn how to care for each other and value life for all its fragility.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this, because the underlying question is both very simple, and outrageously complex. I’ll try to break it down. This may be it: why tell stories about terrible people and times when there is so much grief in the world just now? Or, more simply: is art (in any form) a necessity or self indulgence?

Big question. I certainly can’t answer it in a few pithy lines except to say that I might well be able to exist alone in a cave on a diet of bread and water, but that wouldn’t be a life worth living. The need for companionship and mental stimulation are as important, in the long run, as food and sleep.

There has never been any lack of sorrow and violence in the world. We are a contentious species, just as we have always –and will always — tell stories.