RARA-AVIS: willie or not

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 06 Dec 2006

I have been lurking during this discussion of transcendence, and I kept wanting to bring up religion. I don't know how you can mumble about Western Civ and any element of it without bringing up religion's 3000-year overwhelming stranglehold.

So, methinks, a noir protagonist thinks with his willie, and that dooms him. Noir is about morality. The inevitability is, well, judgment day. I look at noir writers and I see religion oozing from them like January maple syrup. Hammett was a former Catholic, Cain was a gloating Catholic, Spillane created the Hammer of God, and so forth.

Hammett created Spade, a blonde devil. Spade is also Sisyphus before Camus tinkered with the myth. The Falcon begins with Spade in his office and ends with Spade in his office. Spade's only moment of freedom is sending Brigit over. Archer was doomed; he thought with his willie. Spade can transcend his willie. Brigit counted upon Spade being just another guy thinking with his willie.

Hammett, a fallen-away Catholic, dead-stops the Falcon so that Spade tells the story of Flitcraft. Flitcraft is a human who encounters Random Chance in a universe he thought was orderly. (That's what Hammett's daughter says about Flitcraft in her biography of her dad, by the way.) There is no Intelligent Design. There is no Prime Mover. The Universe is Random Chance. Spade, the gambler, casting his lot with the drop of the cards. (Einstein said God doesn't play dice with the universe; Spade says, yeah, it's the fall of the dice.) Spade could be telling Brigit HE is her Falling Beams, or he could be telling her SHE is his Falling Beams. Works both ways, eh?

Imagine Sisyphus with a gun.

Could there be a Hindu noir novel? A Buddhist noir novel? Or only from the Son of Abraham? What is the impact of religion? As for the politics, oh, I think the role of politics in noir is a red-herring.

God, I'm glad I got all this out of me.

Fred Zackel author of Cocaine & Blue Eyes c/o Point Blank Press

"They are too fast, too quick, they rip our flesh off, rip our arms off. Sometimes it starts with just one. Sometimes they come in a pack. They smell blood and meat, and they rush in and join in. There are so many of them everywhere, patroling, cruising, taking, killing." ~ Voltaire

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