Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Cat Noir

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 15 Oct 2004

At 06:54 PM 14/10/2004 -0400, you wrote:

>"Or were capable of abstract thought..."
>I'm not sure the ability for abstract thought is necessary for a noir
>protagonist. For instance, Royston Blake in Charlie William's Deadfolk
>(which I'm enjoying very much, by the way) certainly doesn't seem
>capable of it.

You may be right, and I'm glad you've taken me up on this. I suggest (not originally) that the whole of western literature is based upon the idea of aspiration. The protagonist has a goal toward which he/she aspires. The antagonist is an impediment toward the acquisition of that goal. In the romantic genre the goal is attained. In tragedy it is frustrated, though this is often intended to be instructional: If the reader avoids the tragic flaws of the protagonist then life will be better. In noir the aspiration toward a better world is deemed impossible from the get-go. Nevertheless people continue to harbour aspirations. It's the Catch 22 of the human condition. To aspire toward a better world, one must first be able to imagine something other than the world in which we exist. That requires abstract thought.

Though it comes close, that's not quite the same as saying the protagonist displays much in the way of abstract thought. I'd be interested in hearing about exceptions. People are influenced by others, and memory comes into it too, I'm sure.

And to be honest, I own a dog not a cat, a much inferior creature according to the cat-owners of my acquaintance. I can only say (as I said at the Bouchercon panel) that my dog appears to spend very little time imagining heaven or hell or whether the sofa would look better on the other side of the family room.

Best Kerry

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 15 Oct 2004 EDT