This chapter offers a surprising, even counterintuitive, paradigm for bringing all four major forms together. HBO's recent television series, The Wire (2002–2008), conceptualizes social life as both structured and rendered radically unpredictable by large numbers of colliding social forms, including bounded wholes, rhythms, hierarchies, and networks. Dependent on a narrative logic that traces the effects of each formal encounter on the next, it refuses to posit a deep, prior, metaphysical model of causality to explain its world. By tracking vast numbers of social patterns as they meet, reroute, and disrupt one another, The Wire examines the world that results from a plurality of forms at work. It is argued that this series could provide a new model for literary and cultural studies scholarship.
Keywords: HBO, television series, social life, wholes, rhythms, hierarchies, networks, social patterns, literary studies, cultural studies