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

From: William Ahearn (
Date: 14 Sep 2007

--- Brian Thornton <> wrote:

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

Actually, I was here before. But that's nitpicking.
> 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.

I don't really expect an answer in the conventional sense. Recently I did a lot of research into the origin of the term "film noir" and came away pretty disgusted at how the babblers of the "academic flapdoodle" that has been raging for some 30 or so years never bothered to read the very people they claim "coined" the term. It's clear that film noir existed before the war and that definition -- however thin -- is more valuable and consistent than the nonsense -- in my opinion -- that followed. So, in developing a grounded theory based on the original French definition -- not Nino Frank's off-hand reference to it -- is what I'm up to.
> 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.

I can't help but admit to some deviousness to suggesting that there is a "unified field theory" to the "everything is noir" school. I don't think there is one because I don't think anyone put much real thought into it in the 1970s and beyond. It's like saying "jazz" instead of "bebop" or "swing" or
"Dixieland." At the moment, I'm limiting it to film because I think -- I do not have a reference yet -- that the literary material was given the name after the fact.

What you can't wrap your head around is that it's a lot of fun.


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