Great news for Deadwood fans – a movie version’s out! The HBO TV series vividly traced the history of Deadwood, South Dakota, from a rough-and-ready 1870s mining camp into a thriving small town, bawdily showing how civil society and functioning politics can overtake a lawless state of nature. The May 31 release of the new Deadwood movie enabled Robert Herritt to reflect on its deeper themes in The New Atlantis. “Deadwood inverts a certain rationalist picture of the social and political — of top-down, technocratic deliberation as the ideal of proper action,” Herritt writes. In recognizing reason as subordinate to the exigencies of life, Deadwood subtly presents a Burkean philosophy. That’s certainly one explanation for the aptly named Swearengen’s continuous F-word eruptions.

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