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

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 21 Mar 2007

At 06:57 PM 20/03/2007, Mark wrote:

>I'd say hyper-realty goes one step further, where the line becomes
>blurred between the pop references within the fiction and the fictional
>world itself. For instance, on the simplest level, Remington Steele
>used to solve cases by finding a movie that fit what was going on. This
>was also used on Andy Barker, PI last week. He told several people a
>woman had hired him to find her husband. Every one of them interrupted
>him to say, It's not his real wife, haven't you seen Chinatown? These
>people were living in a hyper-real world where they were forcing reality
>to conform to the pop references, and it did, thereby confirming their
>postmodern worldview.

Yes, of course, but this cycle of culture affecting reality affecting culture has always gone around. The old structure of referring to common cultural touchstones, as Jim observed, hasn't changed all that much. Even the post-modern observation that nothing exists outside of the text goes back to the biblical observations that culture or civilization, communal ideas about what's real and what isn't, began with "the word" and that humanity is the word made flesh. What Adam and Eve got from the apple was knowledge, or information. So we've been in the information age long before post-modernists recognized it as such.

What's different, what makes this post-modern is technological change that has advanced both the reach and pace of the process. Took a while for "the word" to get around when monks had to copy books by hand, and widespread literacy is only about 200 years old, in western culture at least. This had to change for there to be a new "pop" culture reality for a writer to refer to. Now anybody with a high school education and some decent computer software can write and publish a book, produce a movie and/or distribute their own music, complete with cultural references based on their individual realities from the preceding week. Realities can now change several times within a lifetime. The current pace and volume of communications has also meant that references are becoming fragmented, at the expense of a central consensus about reality, so Jim can ignore post-modernism as unimportant, left-wing bullshit and live in his own reality while you and I still get to live in our observed hyper realities.

The post-modern notion of hyper reality is really a statement about the speed and influence of communications on culture. What makes it important in a forum outside RARA AVIS is that some ideologues can use this understanding of the speed and reach of modern communications, a small group of middle-eastern clerics for instance, to manipulate the realities of competing ideologues who rely more on slower technologies such as military hardware to exert power, provoking them to make disastrous mistakes. Maybe I can bring this back to RARA-relevance by suggesting that in the Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie mixed "real" history with fiction in much the same way as James Ellroy has in his work, another post-modern technique that shortens the cycle noted at the beginning of this black-pot diatribe.

Best, Kerry

P.S.- If this stuff goes another round I'm going to stop hyphenating postmodern and catch up with reality.

Best, Kerry

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