Re: RARA-AVIS: Bastard child

From: Kerry Schooley (
Date: 27 Feb 2004

At 10:47 AM 27/02/2004 -0800, you wrote:

>If you start from a premise, then what follows
>logically from that premise must, if the premise is
>correct, be the result. You may disagree with my
>premise (of course, you'll be wrong if you do, but you
>can disagree, just the same), but disagreeing with my
>premise, that "noir" is not synonomous with "tragic"
>(in the literary sense), is not the same as saying
>that my argument is circular.

You gotta pay attention to your "if"s. That's what the debate is about. If you use your "if"s to prove your "if"s, then your argument is circular.

>The difference is I never said your argument was
>circular. I said your premise was flawed. The reason
>I said your premise was flawed isw because it WAS, in
>fact, flawed.

No, it was me said such an argument by me would be circular. We've gotten to the "is to - is not" stage, and there's definitely something circular about that. Something jugular about it too.

>So let me get this straight. Duhamel, who first
>coined the term, got the term wrong? He was the first
>one to use it, in fact he INVENTED it as a term for
>describing a particular kind of mystery, but he got it

Yep. And Coke says it's the real thing, but I don't take that as a useful definition of cola. But I'm not going to join their e-mail list to argue the point.

>And "dark and sinister" is too broad? That's the
>first time that particular criticism has been leveled
>against it in awhile. Recently, the more common
>criticism has been that it's far too restrictive.

Thanks. Mom said I was one of a kind too.

>If it is broad, that's why it serves as a good
>definition. It not only includes the "classicly
>tragic" type of crime fiction you've been talking
>about, but any other crime fiction that is imbued with
>a dark and sinister atmosphere.
>It's simple, easy to remember, and applies to most (I
>would maintain ALL) of the crime stories generally
>regarded as coming under the "noir" umbrella. It
>includes the ever-triumphant Mike Hammer as well as
>Cain's murderous but sympathetic protagonists. Just
>as it did when Duhamel first coined it as a marketing

And it includes everything else in the crime writing genre too, and a lot of stuff outside it. Where's the value?

>I think you missed my point here. What I said was
>that, prior to Poe, there were certainly stories with
>bad guys doing bad things (i.e. "committing crimes")
>that good guys opposed. For that matter, crimes (or
>acts that most readers would commonly understand to be
>crime) still occur in stories that are not, strictly
>speaking, crime stories, per se, such as westerns and
>science fiction.
>After Poe, as crime fiction gradually comes to be
>recognized as a separate, distinct genre, it takes on
>what you call "a specific set of conflicts." I was
>only drawing an historical distinction between stories
>with crimes (acts which identified the villain and
>created conflict so that the story could move
>forward), and crime stories (stories that fall within
>a distinct, identifiable literary genre post-Poe).

It's a matter of chronology? Okay, we're cool.

>Actually it's not. Presuming that I'm right and
>you're wrong (always a safe presumption), you're
>giving them incorrect information, when, if you just
>told them that it's a crime story that has a dark and
>sinister atmosphere, and that's really all there is to
>it, you'd be giving them correct information.

Saying noir is crime story with a dark and sinister atmosphere is redundant.

>And I rarely find the weather a sufficiently
>interesting topic (though the Chicago winter this year
>was a real bitch).

Sorry to hear that. Of course, as a guy who can't get the definition of noir straight, you deserve it.

Best Kerry

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

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