Re: RARA-AVIS: "a working class tragedy"

From: Marc Seals (
Date: 24 Sep 2005

----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Robison
> Without a definition it has no meaning. The students
> seeking to establish one seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Therein lies the whole point of the disease metaphor. I pointed out that a doctor looks at a patient's symptoms to determine the illness; a given patient may not present with all the symptoms of an illness, but there reaches (one hopes) a point where only one diagnosis makes sense. I wanted to avoid an unnecessarily narrow definition. As a matter of fact, my moving from "characteristics of noir" to "symptoms of noir" has been a very successful decision! The students' understanding and analysis of noir is much more sophisticated than last semester!

Besides, there are many things in life that have no set definition but still have great meaning.... One would have a great deal of trouble constructing a satisfactory definition of, say, "pornography." In 1964, Supreme Courrt Justice Potter Stewart famously tried to explain "hard-core" pornography by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "
(Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964). "Love" is an equally problematic word.

Damn it, I was not trying to start another contentious debate about definition of noir.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Sep 2005 EDT