Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:Most Hard-Boiled?

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 21 Dec 2006

At 08:04 PM 20/12/2006 +0000, you wrote:

>Yes, but it doesn't follow that all that is non-optimistic is,
>perforce, pessimistic. There's a middle ground.

I'm not sure a middle ground is so easy to find in "real life" as you say below. What would it be? Indifference? Win some, lose some, things carrying on pretty much as they are, no better and no worse? I ask, because the second at least sounds like a failure to transcend, to me.

>No, I CORRECTED what you said.

If that is the only means by which you can come to acceptance, fine.

>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.

But it was not and is not clearly implicit in the phrase "dark and sinister" alone. You're trying to use the word "inherent" in two close but different contexts here. In Duhamel's version, the immorality or darkness is inherent in it's valuation, not its mere presence.

>Aside from that, I find little to disagree with in the above
>paragraph. I don't believe that "noir" is, by definition, "non-

we'll have to agree to disagree on that, obviously.

> nor do I believe that all "noir" fiction shares a
>common philosophical premise.

but we can agree on that. Like any point of view about "real life" though, it lends itself to philosophical discussion, and I think we've seen that some philosophers have successfully used the genre to illustrate and explore their beliefs.

>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.

Wish you hadn't drawn "hard-boiled" into that paragraph. I liked your definition of hardboil as "tough and colloquial" as entirely sufficient, agreeing that hardboil and noir can and often do overlap. As for noir itself, if we combine the notion of justice appearing only occasionally and in isolation, with the idea of immorality or "dark and sinister" being an inherent value in the genre, well, this is where I come to "non-transcendent."

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

What is philosophy but the attempt of a fallible species to apply meaning to real life?

Best, Kerry

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