RARA-AVIS: Re:Most Hard-Boiled?

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 20 Dec 2006


Re your comments below:

> Sorry Jim. He said optimists will NOT find what they're looking for
in noir.

Yes, but it doesn't follow that all that is non-optimistic is, perforce, pessimistic. There's a middle ground.
> Yes, I believe you've just said what I said about what he said.

No, I CORRECTED what you said.
> Actually, I don't think I've every heard or read you saying that
[dark & siniter is inherent in noir], but if
> so, I'm happily wrong, because here you're saying that the dark and
> sinister quality is more than atmospherics, which are invoked in
many other
> forms of literature, possibly embodied in them all in the form of
> antagonist. The phrase "dark and sinister" is by itself inadequate,
> too general.

If I say that a dark and sinister atmosphere is the defining element, it follows that it MUST be an inherent element. I don't know whether or not I ever said "inherent" explicitly, though I may have. If I didn't it's because, like "crime fiction," it was clearly implicit.
> And I think the difference is more than degree- as you say:
inherent as
> opposed to anomalous. What makes a dark and sinister atmosphere
inherent in
> noir? Others have suggested it is that the characters, chiefly the
> protagonist is doomed, or screwed, but I agree with you that this
is too
> narrow. Often the protagonist appears to triumph, solving his case
> whatever. But in noir the case may be solved, but at a price for
> protagonist, or the story is resolved in such a way as to
illustrate the
> ultimate limitations of human existence. Good may be served for the
> but evil remains to take it's pound of flesh perhaps in other ways,
or at
> other times. This is why I've suggested that noir can be defined as
> non-transcendent, as opposed to other forms of literature.
> I don't think anyone on the list is saying that noir and hardboil
> mutually exclusive, or have I missed something?

Plenty of people have suggested, or explicitly insisted, that hard- boiled and noir are mutually exclusive concepts. If you insist, I can find the references.

Aside from that, I find little to disagree with in the above paragraph. I don't believe that "noir" is, by definition, "non- transcendant," nor do I believe that all "noir" fiction shares a common philosophical premise.

But I do agree that in fiction deemed Either hard-boiled or noir, there is always the sense that justice only wins on a case-by-case basis, and only because of the efforts determined individuals, NOT because it is an immutable force that will not be denied. And very often, justice doesn't even make a token appearance, even if strong efforts are being expended on its behalf.

But that's not a philosophical belief; that's just real life.


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