RE: RARA-AVIS: nightmare alley

From: Kerry Schooley (
Date: 12 Jul 2002

At 04:32 PM 11/07/2002 -0500, you wrote:

>in the admittedly small amount of noir that i've read,

No need for apology here- the breadth of this list humbles us all (well, me mostly.)

>socialistic/communistic themes pop up every so often.
>its a natural. a very common plot in noir involves a
>crime committed by a poor person in a desperate hope to
>escape a life of miserable poverty, such as cain's
>_postman always rings twice_,

Yes, I can see the possibilities for economic metaphor in Postman, but I think the won't take us too far toward understanding the characters. I took the novel to be more social commentary; the drifter as outsider not finding a place in a somewhat surreal, disfunctional society. And I saw his crimes as driven more by lust than economic necessity.

>or anderson's _thieves
>like us_.

See, you've humbled me again.

> the plight of the working class in a capi-
>talistic economy is a recurrent theme in marx's _the
>communist manifesto_. superficially, there appears to
>be a correlation. and you will indeed often read noir
>dialogue where the poor guy complains about the unfair-
>ness of it all.
>but here's the irony. marx's suggestion is that the
>worker's standard of living could be raised by sharing
>the wealth. but i don't see any noir characters that
>would go for this slightly elevated standard. they
>want a considerably larger slice of the pie, and pre-
>ferably without the idea of actual "labor" entering
>the picture at all. bowie, in _thieves_, at first
>entertains the idea of becoming a simple farmer with
>his share of a bank robbery, but with a couple more
>robberies and all the easy money, he forgoes the idea
>of actually working for a living.

Not too ironic. You could take that short-cut as metaphor for the failure of many socialist governments. My response to your original e-mail was not a defense of socialism. But a system based upon the unrestricted rights of capital has it's own failures, and the unrelenting pursuit of capital is as prone to evil as any activity organized and carried out by humans. There's still ample opportunity to write and appreciate noir since the end of history.


------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 12 Jul 2002 EDT