Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: can noir writers advocate social reform?

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 24 Nov 2006

The desire for reform seems to be what gets humanity and so many noir characters into trouble to begin with, especially as we seek the power to implement our "improvements." But noir writers also recognize that reform is essentially impossible, or its benefits, at best, fleeting. It's a central contradiction that leads to the use and necessity of dark humour. Still I don't see why noir writers should or possibly even could deny their humanity by failing to advocate for reform. It's just that they carry the story further by showing what becomes of such reforms.

I think this is similar to the question: "What about hope?"

Hope looks after itself, rising in the most unlikely of circumstances simply because that is what people do. It is characteristic of human existence. It is what sustains us as a pretty smart species, but one never quite smart enough to figure everything out. Hope is the problem.

Even if we advocate for the end of hope, it ain't gonna happen.

Best, Kerry

At 10:33 AM 24/11/2006 +0000, you wrote:

> > I assume that novelists who can
> > be called noir, like Cain, McCoy, Algren, Dahlberg, Fante, or
> > Benjamin Appel are not social reformers or proletarian novelists
>inciting to
> > social change, and that social reformers like James T Farrell,
>John Dos
> > Passos or Michael Gold, however much they deal with evil, the
> > underclass, and political corruption, cannot be considered noir or
> > hardboiled. Does this distinction make sense?
>I believe this is just what the Marxist theorists meant when they
>said that this kind of gloomy, pessimistic literature - or pessimism
>and nihilism themselves - cannot do good for the mankind, but only
>makes the readers more passive toward the society. It's essentially
>the same thing that Georg Lukacs said about Franz Kafka.
>Hope I'm not opening Pandora's box again. :)

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Nov 2006 EST