Re: RARA-AVIS: The Post-Modern Parsley of Pretension

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 08 Feb 2007

At 08:25 AM 08/02/2007 -0800, Kevin wrote:

>My, what good taste you have. You nailed my ambivalence about KISS
>I loved them but at the same time I couldn't help but feel a little
>disappointed and even woozy from being jerked out of the story by all
>those sly winks and call-outs to hard-core crime fans.
>I'm definitely going to have to check out UNKNOWN. I don't mind
>cleverness; it's the constant looking in the mirror I mind. Which is
>a problem I have with many crime flicks (and TV shows) these days --
>the incredible, almost-incestuous self-consciousness of them.

Kevin, love ya man but sometimes I think you argue both ends against the middle. Aren't these sly winks and call-outs just common, everyday allusions that in what the academics like to describe as "great literature" referred to Greek and Roman mythology, but in pop culture usually refers back to earlier examples of the same pop culture? Either way, it's a little gimmick to help engage the knowing audience, no? Or at other times a kind-of short-hand for bringing the audience up to speed as in "Okay you know that, right, now here's this." Granted, it should not jerk you out of the story. Is it the quantity, the lack of skill in application, or just your own over-familiarity with the genre that makes the use of this technique so distractingly obvious, do you think?

>Sometimes a guy just wants meat and potatoes. Sure, a little parsley
>never killed anyone but half the time these days you can't even see
>the meal for all the garnish. And every year it seems like there's
>more and more parsely.

See here you seem to argue for the old tried and true instead of the new with allusions to the old tried and true. Doesn't that simply amount to so much allusion that the new is undistinguishable from the old?

Either way, I expect I'm going to disappoint you with what follows.

A friend recently loaned me DVD's of the first year of television's
"House". We'd been watching the series for the past year, but this marathon of House in our house had me both laughing from one end to the other (to refer to another RA discussion thread) and realizing how noir the thing is. Did I just allude to another RA topic thread- noir outside of crime fiction? Well, superficially it's a medical drama but it's all about crime
(the lead character is a functioning junkie who frequently breaks the rules, institutional, ethical and legal) and by focusing on diagnostic medicine it becomes a series of detective thrillers. These are usually resolved favourably, but I don't think the over-arching plots are the least transcendent. Come to think, in many of the shows the challenge is overcome more favourably for the doctors than the patients, who have had so many near-death experiences, lost so many internal organs on the road to finding the cure that those happy endings when patients are wheeled smiling to the door defy credulity. If that doesn't make the point, House's own dark humour drives it home. And that point is, I think, "What did you expect? You're going to die. Live with it."

I'd like to discuss this more, but unfortunately I don't think the series is based on a book. I simply mention it to point out that while we've been discussing the origins and the mythology of the genre, it's possible the rest of the noir world has moved on.

Oh well, Kerry

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

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