Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir series (long answer)

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 14 Sep 2007

William Ahearn wrote:

"I'm really not a wisenheimer....all I'm looking for--and not necessarily from you --is the unified field theory that says these are noir."

Since you're new here, William, let me give you some background in the interest of saving you some time.

You won't get anything "unified" on Rara Avis (except perhaps a "unified" acknoledgement of Rara Avis' inherent lack of the afforementioned unity). The folks who linger around this coffee clatch are a disparate and independent-minded lot. The question of what is and is not noir and what is and is not hard-boiled crops up about once a year (usually initially posed or pounced upon by a list newbie. Sometime around 2002 I think I was the newbie in question), and we have never reached a consensus, in spite of any number of lengthy disquisitions from multiple viewpoints on the topics in question.

So good luck with your quest. I can't wrap my head around why anyone would want a "unified field theory" on any literary concept. Then again, I agree with Soren Kierkegaard: "if you define me, do you not negate me?"

In the case of noir fiction, the discussions themselves are the point for me, and the lack of a solid, concrete, "THIS IS NOIR" definition has helped me learn to be comfortable with literary ambiguity.


All the Best-

Brian Thornton

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