Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir; Duhamel and surrealists

Date: 20 Dec 2006

MrT (who goes by the name of Jacques Debierue, a killer critic) wrote:

"Today, noir does not have a very definite meaning; however, it is easy to see when something _isn't_ noir, which shows that, however hazy, it is a robust concept and not a pure contraption of critics."

Well put. It links up with something I've been thinking: for all of our quibbling over the semantics of the word (and I can clealy get as picky and snippy about it as anyone else here), we are largely in agreement over what qualifies. Sure, there are some books or characters along the borders that some would place in, others out (for instance, James Bond), but we seem to be in overwhelming agreement over what books and characters are hardboiled and/or noir and, especially, as MrT notes, those that are not. Which goes back to an old gut feeling of mine that most criticism is largely done from the gut; the big words and arguments are just rationalizations of those gut feelings. I'm not saying that the gut's taste can't be refined, just as we can learn to like, even love, dishes that once made us gag. Afterall, our taste develops and evolves, affected by numerous circumstances -- all those social indicators like upbringing, education, class, gender, race, etc, plus everything we've previously consumed -- but ultimately, we're all Potter Stewarts (I can't define it, but I know it when I see it).


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