RARA-AVIS: Re: Has anyone changed noir writing (lately)?

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 20 Mar 2007


Re your response to my question below:

"So I'd agree with you, if I'm correct in thinking you're suggesting that post-modernism might have evolved from ideas considered in much earlier noir and hardboil (and other genres), rather than having been dropped out of the ozone in the 1960's by an evil group of anti-American literary critics to confuse and mislead innocent readers."

Actually I'm not suggesting that post-mdernism
"evolved from ideas in earlier noir . . ." so much as I'm suggesting that people are reading way too much into something as simple as the Op enjoying a book, Mike Hammer recognizing a classical composition, or Steve Carella enjoying an episode of DRAGNET.

If all it takes to evoke the "post-modernism" spectre is to make some pop culture reference, then Jane Austen, decades before the crime story crystallized into a separate, distinct literary genre, is being post-modern when she hs her characters in MANSFIELD PARK prepare a private performance of a then-popular stage play, LOVER'S VOWS.

Really, though, all she was doing was using a familiar touchstone that her readers would be familiar with in order to serve the needs of the story she was telling.

And all Hammett was doing when he had the Op read THE LORD OF THE SEA, and all Fleming was doing when he had James Bond pick up a copy of "Raymond Chandler's latest" at the airport so he'd have something to read in-flight, and all Estleman is doing when he has Amos Walker recall how his murdered partner, the comic strip buff, could tell you what all the different colors of kryptonite did to Superman, was revealing a little bit about their characters.

It's just a device, a piece of craft, an artifice to serve the story or reveal something about the character. It's not the foundation for a new way of looking at literature.

And, just to be clear, to the degree that Miker's description of post-modernism is accurate (and really, I don't care all that much; if Miker had just said
"po-mo" is short for "post-modern," I'd have been satisfied), my mainobjection to it is based neither on political grounds or on my own reverse snobbery, but simply because the incessant analyzing of the thing keeps one from simply enjoying it.

People want to get the shorts twisted over structuralism and decontruction and God knows what all, it's nothing off me. I'll just go on, in my plebian, non-intellectual way, enjoying the books, music, and movies I like for reasons that have nothing to do with any of that stuff, and which, in my view, are profoundly more important than any of that stuff.

If that makes me guilty of "non-academic, anti-intellectual snobbery," so be it.


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