Re: RARA-AVIS: Professionals and Amateurs

From: pabergin (
Date: 02 Feb 2000

I think that there might be a bit of misapprehension as to what I was trying to say in my original post. It was due, no doubt, to my own sloppy use of language. (It was late in a busy day. I will claim no other extenuating factor.)

Jim writes:
>The presentation of the profession may
>be fantastic (i.e. Mike Hammer or Satan Hall), but the professional status
>gives the character a convincing reason for being involved.
>Amateurs *don't* have a reason.

True, but not having a "reason" makes the situation even more stark and immediate, dunnit? That's neither here nor there.

The point I was trying, albeit clumsily, to make is that the PI is, in HB lit, a totem. And his character/circumstances/ methods are, for the most part, defined by the Trinity -- Op, Marlowe, Archer. We (that is to say fans) have not moved very far from that start. All of these men shared: self-reliance, personal code of justice, solitary nature, primitive (by current standards) investigatory methods. We admire, nay revere, these qualities and expect the same of our 00s PIs, which is ridiculous. Any modern PI trying to hew to "the old line," were he not killed on his first case, would be laughed out of the profession at his first convention (loved those conventions in "Magnum").

But these values/traits are still worthy of admiration . . .

The only possibility for the qualities that made the 30s -- 70s PI believable lies now in your average Joe who's had his life interrupted, and reacts with alacrity. Only the average Joe can be accepted as not having access to all the investigatory trinkets while retaining the ooomph to kick ass. Characters like Gabriel du Pre (okay, so he's a kinda half-assed, part time lawman -- mostly he's his own guy) are the future of HB. They retain the humanity -- and the rage -- without being encumbered by the baggage of adhering to a pointless, antiquated framework -- Cap Shaw is dead -- or the necessity of remaining au courant. My kinda guys.

Hey Joe! Where you goin' with that gun in your hand?

Mind if I tag along with ye awhile? PB

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