Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Book review in Journal of Social History

Date: 11 Apr 2004


Re your comments below:

> Isn't that [Parker's making decisons based on >
nothing but his own self-interest]a moral decision?


> Perhaps not what we'd
> consider a "good" moral
> decision, though I suspect that it is good in the
> sense that it works for
> Parker.

It's not "good" in the sense that it's intrinsically good. Selfishness is not a moral value. I think that's obvious on its face, but if you don't believe in intrinsic morality, and your posts indicate you don't believe in intrinsic ANYTHING, than there's really no point in discussing it.

> But this [questions of morality] is a defining >
characteristic for noir.

No, it's not. The defining characteristic of noir, and the ONLY defining scharacteristic of noir, is a dark and sinister atmosphere.

> Sometimes noir stories may
> hypothesize good or bad moral choices, popular or
> unpopular choices; they
> may suggest confusion in the face of such choices or
> satirize the fact that
> people feel compelled to make such choices, but
> given the accepted (on this
> list at least- and who the hell else is crazy enough
> to endlessly argue
> these points?) instigation for the genre as the
> search for codes of
> behaviour in response to the experience of war, how
> can we possibly define
> it otherwise?

Yeah, sure they do, but that isn't what makes them noir, and they're are plenty of noir stories that don't do any of that. Further, there are plenty of non-noir stories that do the same thing, and that's what makes them non-noir. Consequently, that can't be what defines noir.

What all noir does do, or all noir at least TRIES to do, to one degree or another, is generate a dark and sinsiter atmosphere. So, since that's the only really common element, THAT must be what the DEFINING element is.
> I mean come-on Jim, when you say "dark and
> sinister," are you talking only
> about the weather?

Weather isn't sinister. It can be used, in the context of fiction or film to EVOKE the sinister, but it's not sinister in itself. But in any case, I'm not talking about the weather, per se. I'm talking about the atmosphere, the ambience, that the writer is trying to put across.


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