Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The popularity of the Private Investigator

Date: 18 Feb 2006

Doug wrote:

"So if the PI's run is really up, I don't think it has anything to do with him/her not being "realistic" anymore. Never mind what "real" PIs do: at heart the fictional PI is an incarnation of the traditional American hero -- individualistic to the point of isolation, deeply moralistic, violent, stoic, a Romantic, etc. That figure will probably stick around as long as there's an America."

I agree, but I'm having trouble thinking of what profession is the current embodiment of that figure. Perhaps a lawyer? Or maybe it's someone who manages to be a loner within and institutional setting?

"My guess is that we're living through an unsettled age and a PI needs to be in a settled time, since his/her whole raison d etre is to confront the corruption that undergirds the seeming stability."

I once wrote a paper that looked at when new PI writers came on the scene. It seemed that there were upsurges after each major war the US was involved in. So I'm not sure it's so much stability that feeds the PI so much as society's attempting to return to a stability that the
(often returning vet) PI reminds us was never quite as pure as is being claimed. Or, as Bruce Cockburn put it, The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

"Actually, as I type this, it strikes me that this is an age for horror
(and we do see a lot of horror efforts in pop culture nowadays) and, strangely, the Western."

I see horror, but why western? I would think that the western loner had so much in common with the PI that their cycles would be roughly the same.

"If somebody could reconceive the Western to speak to these times, they'd probably make a killing."

Does Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada count? Or the new Australian western scripted by Nick Cave -- what is the title? -- I'm really looking forward to that.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 18 Feb 2006 EST