Spoilers, Ancient and Modern

If you haven't listened to S-Town yet, you should . . . and if you haven't read (or watched) Hamlet yet, then you probably never will and it would be silly for me to recommend it (sort of like recommending that you check out the Bible) but I'd like to point out some interesting parallels between the podcast and Shakespeare's most famous tragedy:

1) both contain themes of suicide, Hamlet contemplates suicide but chickens out-- though he can barely stand the "slings and arrows" life has sent his direction-- and John B. actually makes good on his promise to remove himself from the picture because he's just so "tired" of dealing with all the shit;

2) bother John B. and Hamlet see themselves in an "unweeded garden" of corruption and betrayal;

3) Brian Reed, the narrator and reporter in S- Town,plays the same role as Horatio-- he goes on a trip to investigate a death and ends up as an involved bystander in a world that is both intellectual and depraved;

4) Hamlet and John B. both believe that "frailty thy name is woman";

5) in both works, there is family intrigue and alliances, oblivious to the machinations of the outside world, and in the end, Fortinbras and the Burt family  operate in the same manner, swooping in to take over the land;

6) there is the distinct possibility that both protagonists are insane, and rereading or relistening makes this more and more apparent;

7) there are plays within plays in both works-- the back room in the tattoo shop, the needle play, the dramas within dramas of John B.'s relationships;

8) there is the theme of time and time dilation . . . no one can figure out how time passes in Hamlet, the span may be much longer than we think, and the same with S- Town-- John is involved with his horological studies, but it's impossible to trace when his mercury induced insanity began, when he went from trying to improve the town with his friend the clerk to feeling betrayed by everything, and if Brian Green ever knew him in a time of sanity;

9) both pieces contain plenty of dark humor amidst the tragedy;

10) both protagonists are most certainly geniuses;

11) both John B. and Hamlet have weird relationships with their respective mothers, and odd stances towards sex;

12) I really like the podcast and the play.


zman said...

The daily deployment of your sentences needs to be scheduled better. I didn't see the "Ill Will" sentence until today and I only comment on the sentence at the top of the blog so my piercing insights and gut-busting wit won't make its way into that particular comments section. The net result is a painful loss of "comments of zman" for my fans, who are as multitudinous as they are erudite. Give the people what they want Dave. Please pace your postings in a way that we all win.

rob said...


zman said...


Dave said...

i'm a disorganized mess. i wrote yesterday's sentence at 11:55 PM, post pub. this project is held together by spit and chewing gum.

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.