Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir Manifesto

From: Duane Spurlock (
Date: 28 Oct 2005

Michael Robison wrote:
> Tribe wrote:
> I don't think that Stansberry sees "the supernatural
> as a significant element" in Poe's detective fiction.
> The way I interpret it is that Poe sees the rational
> method of crime-solving as just another manifestation
> of the supernatural, according to Stansberry "process
> and logic-indeed the act of analysis itself-are
> ultimately viewed as further manifestations of the
> supernatural."
> ***************
> I think the detective's reasoning is a significant
> element in the stories. Stansberry finds his logic to
> be a "manifestation of the supernatural." I link
> these two premises and come up with the supernatural
> as a significant part of the stories.
> I didn't see any "manifestation of the supernatural"
> in "Murder in the Rue Morgue" or "The Death of Marie
> Roget".
> His comment about rational thinking being close to the
> supernatural is conceivable, since rational thinking
> accepts truth outside experience, but if we're playing
> word games and leaning towards that definition, then
> the detective's logic is empirical, not rational, and
> I see nothing supernatural about that.
  Another angle on this -- using as an example the recently broadcast Sherlock Holmes pastiche "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking," with Rupert Everett as the Great Detective, on Masterpiece Theatre here in the U.S. ( -- is the detective's ratiocination as a method for making explicable those events or behaviors which have been previously considered unthinkable. (While I have some reservations about turning Holmes into an Edwardian CSI adventurer, the production was well executed.) In the "Silk Stocking" story, the fetish-murders of young women, whose bodies also are dressed in clothes other than their own, is considered a horrible, devilish act by the contemporary culture at large. Holmes, relying on the research on sexual perversity by psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, brings logic and rationality to crimes that are otherwise considered irrational, frightening, and perhaps otherworldly or demonic. In this manner the
 detective dispels the seemingly supernatural with ratiocination, which -- in the canonical Holmes -- frequently seems magical itself. (And I'm reminded of Arthur C. Clarke's note about technology that is so advanced it can't be explained by the contemporary world will seem like magic.)
- Duane Spurlock proprietor The Pulp Rack

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