Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir and the Bible

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 09 Apr 2006

Kerry wrote:

Yeah, I'm finding it bogus too. Christian themes may be raised, but I've not read anything where they are confirmed by noir. Not that I've read everything, by a long shot, but Nietzsche said god is dead, meaning the end of faith and superstition as a guide to human behaviour, and the existentialists wrote stories about how that played out.
  That's one of the things that appealed to the French identified in film noir, isn't it? I mean, Spade, Marlowe and others had their own values because religious (and other) institutions had failed them, and modern man. In other stories, such as The Postman Rings Twice, faith did not keep man from straying. It didn't even enter into the picture.
  In the end Christianity, and all other western faiths, are about transcendence. Noir is the opposite. Noir is about life without transcendence. If there's transcendence, through faith or anything else, it ain't noir in my books. Christian noir is a contradiction in terms.

********************* As far as Christian themes that are confirmed by noir, for a starting point I would suggest the recurring theme of the emphasis on the high price paid for moral transgression.
  I don't see the significance in your point about Cain's Postman not having any religious inferences. I don't believe that anybody has stated that Christianity is inseparable from noir, just that they share several common themes and can play well together in a novel. At least, that's all I'm saying.
  Transcendence often is used in a spiritual context, but in a more generic sense it can imply simply the act of rising above. In this second sense, I would say that Christianity shares much common ground with noir on the subject, in that the struggle for transcendence is a desperate, powerful, and frequently occuring theme. Whether the characters actually ever reach this goal is moot. Whether that transcendence actually exists is moot also. The striving for it is the main focus.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Apr 2006 EDT