We don’t have a past or a future, just an infinite present that makes tomorrow totally harmless. A temporality where nothing extraordinary or too dangerous happens, but there is a price to pay: repetition.
The spiral was all over the place in the first season of True Detective: the sky, the trees, guns, beer cans, in the first victim’s back, etc. In this fight between Good and Evil, a mysterious killer and a couple of detectives, repetition was a key element as the characters remind us several times. “All this has happened before. All this will happen again.” said one of the suspects (a direct quote from another show that lives in a continuous cycle, Battlestar Galactica).
It’s not just the symbol, that appears in almost every chapter, there is a feeling of repetition, of entropy. The lost towns of Louisiana where the show takes place are “like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading.” The repetition, like a spiral, leads to extinction.
When a place so full of ghosts as Southern America is isolated, the memories of the past have to fight against the possibilities of a dreamed tomorrow. And when chaos takes place there is only one way out: a primordial battle between opposites that give shape to the world and rebuilds the frontiers of its nuclear concepts: time and space.
In the great first season of American Horror Story, a.k.a. Murder House, we saw another spiral with the shape of a house. In the mansion where the story develops, death is not the end, but the beginning of a cycle of decadence that all the inhabitants have been suffering since they passed away. This leitmotif reappears in the problems the characters (like Vivien) have with reproduction: the creation of something new, escaping from the spiral, is the ultimate desire, a desire that will not be fulfilled.
In Carnivàle -why HBO?!- the dust bowl hides the silhouettes, and the freaks of the circus destabilize the idea of what normality is. The limits of things and concepts become evanescent again. In the middle of a desert America, the itinerant circus performs again and again their shows in different towns, even if the business is decaying. Moreover, behind this façade, there is again a primordial battle between the avatar of God and that of Evil. Concepts need to be reconstructed.
Why are there so many spirals in our TV? Because we are afraid of our own postmodern way of dealing with time, we are afraid that living an infinite present leads to an artificial revival of the past and a dissapearance of the future. We don’t want to live in the Muder House.
The Homecoming Queen