Re: RARA-AVIS: Win or lose

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 10 Mar 2005

At 11:34 AM 10/03/2005 -0800, you wrote:

>You might need to explain what you mean by
>transcendence, and how it's an element of tragedy but
>not noir. I'm a little hazy. You're saying that
>tragedy deals with characteristics of an afterlife? I
>don't think you're saying that.

Sorry to be obtuse Mike. I'm not always sure what I mean myself.

I used to figure noir precluded redemption, but came to realize that redemption was just one form of transcendence, in a particular kind of circumstance. I think where you and I differ is that you are taking the view of protagonists in noir stories where I am trying to imagine the genre's objective, or the point of view of authors writing it. Perhaps I'm wrong to do that.

Anyway, in western society I figure we are all about transcending our circumstances, or our environment, and by and large our literature reflects that. If I can get this job, win this race, get so and so to love me, get the other guy to realize he's being an ass or defeat him in some way, get myself elected emperor, overcome my weaknesses, have faith in Jesus, drain the swamp, make a million bucks, then life will be better. It is about humans having the power to change the world because it's not quite right as it is. Religion is all about using faith to rise above the human condition, and our literature (based to a large degree on structures and themes in the bible, according to Northrop Frye) is mostly about the protagonist overcoming or transcending the antagonist to achieve an objective. That's the romantic view.

In the tragic view either the protagonist's objective is flawed, or she/he is flawed in some way as to fail to achieve the objective, or both. But it is presumed that the flaw is avoidable. Decent folks will have the character to avoid unseemly ambition, or to have worthy objectives. Tragedy is meant to be instructive, I think. If Romeo and Juliette had been more patient, if their families had learned to bury their quarrels, love would have endured and their world at least would have been a better place. That's the tragedy. A romantic view would say that the kids are in a better place, the priest having delivered them to heaven where love rages endlessly, and the tragedy is endured only by those left behind.

I think the existentialist influence makes noir different. Love will always be impatient, and people will always form themselves into clans, and there is no afterlife. Flaw is part of the human condition and the human condition is the way people are. Noir says there is only one way to transcend the human condition and that is to die. It's better to survive. Ironically, one aspect of the human condition seems to be a constant dissatisfaction and the desire to transcend it, and it is the depiction of people trying to transcend the human condition that makes noir a comic genre.

Or I could just be confused, again.

Best, Kerry

>Do you Yahoo!?
>Yahoo! Sports - Sign up for Fantasy Baseball.
>RARA-AVIS home page:
>Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
>Yahoo! Groups Links
> * To visit your group on the web, go to:
> *
> <>
> *
> * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> *
> <mailto:>
> *
> * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
> <>Yahoo! Terms of Service.

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

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> In low income neighborhoods, 84% do not own computers. At Network for Good, help bridge the Digital Divide!

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Mar 2005 EST