RARA-AVIS: Questions for Domenic Stansberry--(Ethics in Noir)

From: Domenic ( mystery.robot@pacbell.net)
Date: 20 Nov 2005

> ________________________________________________________________________
> ________________________________________________________________________
> Message: 4
> Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 03:41:42 -0800 (PST)
> From: Michael Robison < miker_zspider@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: Questions for Domenic Stansberry
>Miker wrote

> That all literature contains a moral theme was one of
> the premises of the New Critics. I believe it. It's
> not so much that literature must teach morals, but
> that it does at least raise moral questions.
> One of the common criticisms of noir is that it
> doesn't teach morals.

Yeah, Miker, I know.

But if you look at Cain, those can be read as cautionary tales, about the consequences of reckless desire. I have heard it argued that Hughes' "In a Lonely Place" can be seen as having a moral dimension as well, in that the sociopath seeks out his own punishment. At first glance, I am less sure about books like "Killer Inside Me,"--in that it doesn't have an obvious
"lesson," other than to raise the specter of innate evil that exists within all of us.

At the same time, in Thompson, there is very much the view that people are damned, and there is no escape. There is a kind of fire and brimstone that underlies the apparent blasphemy.

In The Getaway--the two lead characters go through Dantesque tortures and end up in their own version of hell. In a lot of ways, conscious or otherwise, there is a very traditional allegorical substructure, even to the extent that the realism in the plot is less important than the allegory.

In "Killer Inside Me:, there is something else there, I think--in regards to the vicarious pleasure the reader is invited to take in the violence, in the cruel sense of humor, in mocking social order, in evil behavior, and in the fiery apocalyptic conclusion.

It is in many ways the voice of the devil...

Thompson's stories have often been described as existential, amoral tales. And though I think that's legitimate, I also think it's possible to read them as cautionary tales.... In some ways, that's what makes his best work so dynamic...the tension between the cautionary and the blasphemous...

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