Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled and Marxism

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 06 Sep 2006

At 07:10 PM 05/09/2006 -0400, Mark wrote:

>Can you really think of many authors whose worldviews are inconsistent
>over their output?

And then he wrote:

"Crap, now I'm agreeing with Jim against Kevin. What's happening to me?"

This is not a case of correct or incorrect. Culture works in an (imperfect) circle, with the individual affected by the culture, overtly and by assumption, and individuals or sometimes groups affect the culture, either by taking up the common assumptions or rejecting them, usually by conscious design. Culture is in a constant state of flux, changing and reacting to change.

So I may assume HB&N is largely an urban form and have people getting about mostly by car, sometimes by public transit, but not very often the latter because that's not as efficient or flexible for following or chasing the bad guys. I only need look out my window here in The Hammer to note that auto-culture has been a common assumption at least sometime in the recent past, and I may reflect that without thinking about it much one way or the other. And readers may not even pay much attention to it, because it's assumed that's the way it is. Until somebody writes something like "The Bicycling Detective" and perceptions begin to change. Or maybe perceptions were already changing and the author is reflecting them. I mean, I remember how funny and unlikely it seemed to me when I first noted Moses Wine tooling about in a clapped-out Volkswagen. How's he gonna win the chase scene?

Culture and it's common assumptions are moving targets. They change. Authors' individual assumptions and opinions change. Some folks learn and understand new tricks. Some minds are closed.

Add to that the fact that I have no way of knowing what anyone is really thinking except by way of what they say or do. I don't know that any of you folks exist except by the e-mails you post. Jim says he's right wing, and I'd say his posts reflect that, but he could be a closet Trotskyite playing and laughing at the lot of us. Only thing I can say in response to that is that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it ain't a Trot even if it thinks it is. Which may be Al's point in all this, that it's entirely a matter of perception. But I'm inclined to my circular point of view, or the idea that a book is a collaboration between the writer and the reader, and that communication between the two always begins, in fact requires, a common set of assumptions. Those assumptions could vary quite a bit, however, from book to book, not to mention the other media.

I'm still fascinated, however, by books and ideas that knowingly play with these communications patterns. I think Memento might be one example. I think the new right, generally, has gained significant political mileage by doing exactly this, too. Last essay I read along these lines was a claim that, going back to origins, the new right is actually the new left. I guess Wag the Dog might be the fiction example- was there a book? Seems to me that any fiction written about this trend would have to be noir. Whether that's left or right wing, I don't know that I care. I've never been good at team sports.

Best, Kerry


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