Re: RARA-AVIS: Bastard child

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 26 Feb 2004

Jim wrote:

"Here's a tip. When Lewis Carroll quoted Humpty-Dumpty as saying, "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less," he wasn't seriously suggesting a viable way of approaching language. He was trying to make Humpty-Dumpty seem ridiculous."

Funny, I think that applies more to your approach: "When Jim uses the word noir it means just what he chooses it to mean -- neither more nor less."

And anyone who disagrees with him is wrong, as in:

"And, as I keep on telling you, "noir" isn't a genre, it's way of describing a mood or an atmosphere. If a story has it, it's noir; if it doesn't, it's not."

Well, that is certainly what you have chosen it to mean. You later admit your choice is an inferrence. Doesn't that make it interpretation, not fact? And doesn't that allow room for others to draw their own conclusions from the same evidence?

Also, are you honestly saying that the meanings of words do not evolve over time? For instance, do you believe that gunsel still means a homosexual (its original usage), and not a gunman (how it came to be used and understood)?

"Duhamel didn't "define" it; he applied it, leaving it to us to discern the common elements that all the books he published under the SERIE NOIR logo had, and so to identify the DEFINING elements.

"The common elements, and, in consequence, the DEFINING elements, were a dark and sinister atmosphere, and (since Kerry needs it spelled out) a crime story plot."

Are those the common elements of his book line? I must admit that I don't know. Even if I buy an inductive definition of the term (and I'm not sure I do), I'd need to see a list of the books published under Serie Noir. Anyone got one?


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