From: Kerry J. Schooley ( gsp.schoo@murderoutthere.com)
Date: 22 Jun 2007

We've discussed before the idea of noir precedents in the rural landscape- the Westerns in the US and the "surviving in the wilderness" stories in Canada, not to mention those gothic Brit roman noirs. Even here the idea varied somewhat between evil resident in the landscape or evil in the rush to civilization.

I believe what we're talking about in noir is mostly about the tensions that arise with civilization, how the individual must adapt and compromise to fit into the group, or community: the rules that are adopted to facilitate this, the systems developed to implement and enforce those rules, and how those rules and systems create power and are inevitably corrupted. This is a literature of its time- the mass migrations to cities (plus mass education, mass literacy) of the now-passing industrial age, (passing in North America and Europe, at least) providing mass markets for our sort of stuff.

Of course, civilization is a relative term. How big does a place have to be to have the problems of civilization? For Jim Thompson, a population of 1,280 was sufficient. In "Postman", James Cain's loner only had to find two other people on the edge of town to crumble.

Best, Kerry

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