RARA-AVIS: Re: On Noir

From: Charlie Williams ( cs_will@hotmail.com)
Date: 05 Oct 2005

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Bruce Makous <bruce@b...> wrote:
> With great respect to all, I would have to say that the ongoing
> philosophical debate is what makes this list what it is. It's
> stuff, and the passion with which opinions are expressed makes it
> than any TV tennis match. I love having a front row seat, and each
> there is a go round about definitions of hardboiled or noir or
> whatever, we end up in at least a slightly different locale. I think
> that proves this is the cutting edge.

Bruce, I don't think fighting over defitions of words is cutting edge at all. In the past I would have agreed with you, but I'm off the crack now and I am able to disagree with the zeal of a rehabbed junkie, six months clean.

Defitions of noir, hardboiled and whatever are like agents. We probably do need them, and they are great if we keep in mind WHY we need them, and don't let them get too powerful. But they ain't the thing itself. The thing itself is the writing, and the writing has nothing to do with agents and definitions. If arguing about defitions were cutting edge, then it would enable authors to go away and hit the keyboard with renewed focus, inspiration, or just *something*. But it doesn't. (Or if it does, I don't think it should.) That would be like saying: "Now I know what noir is, I can write a much better noir novel. OK, let's see... dark and sinister... dark and..."

Maybe I'm wrong? Maybe that is how it works for some writers? But if it is, I'm no part of it. It's about the individual books, not the perceived genre or movement. You take the books (or films) away, noir becomes the French word for black. (Of course, someone would come along and argue that it's actually dark grey.)

Hey, I just noticed something - I'm arguing about definitions! And I thought I was clean for good...




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