Re: RARA-AVIS: I have seen the future . . .

Ned Fleming (
Fri, 28 May 1999 02:02:52 GMT Mark Sullivan wrote:

>Kevin wrote:
><<And here's a suggested topic:
>Who are the hot writers who can take us into the next millenium, maybe
>offer something new to the genre?>>
>I think Jack O'Connell definitely falls into this category. His books
>inhabit a world that are so hyper-real they verge on surreal. Few, if

If Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy is correct, Western Civilization is over.
It's been over for years, it just doesn't know it yet. Finito. Kaput.
Gone. Western Civilization is like the cancer victim resorting to
Laetrile, a hopeless hope, as one last desperate measure. The beginning
of noir was perhaps the beginning of the end.

Sure, the (American) economy is booming and crime rates are falling, but
at what price? 1.8 million people in jail in the US because people won't
behave anymore, a kind of slow-motion burgeoning police state, where
lies are king and the head honcho may be one of history's most adept and
well-loved liars. Hey, man, you've got to find your own truth. What's
true for you may not be true for *anyone* else.

We have seen the utter dissolution of left-wing rationalism in our
lifetimes with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Perhaps the
only place where it's still believed is in the academy. Right-wing
rationalism is on life support, relying on a Clinton-like
"triangulation" of fence-posts anchored in water.

When (some form of) rationalism is abandoned, the only course left is
irrationalism: magic, superstition, mindless horror, hyper-realism,
surrealism, chemicalism, tribalism, amorality, pornography.

Classic noir is dependent on a culture that was, I think, shocked by the
writings of Hammett and Chandler as "edgy," which today seem
commonplace. Marlowe's amorality is run-of-the-mill, perhaps
prototypical of the man-in-the-street today. The evildoers are blase.
That crap wouldn't even make the papers. We need something more shocking
to get our nuts off. And so hardboiled (not noir) will have a future --
because you can always boil things a little longer.

So the body count or the weirdness factor has to ratchet upwards an
order of magnitude for people to be surprised and "entertained" by the
text. Stephen King (any book), Thomas Harris (Hannibal Lecter), and Bret
Easton ("American Psycho") may be the new traditionalists.

Look for writers combining SF and/or the horror genres with mysteries
for the future of hardboiled writing.

Not that it's completely apropos my garbled thesis, you may nonetheless
find the following interesting: "So is science fiction a genre or just a

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at