Re: RARA-AVIS: Maltese Falcon

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 22 May 2008

I disagree. I think Brigid was acting rationally when she deceived Spade and Archer. She was just off the boat from Hong Kong, keeping company with a killer, and was being pursued by Gutman and company. On top of that, she was waiting to take possession of what she believed to be a priceless treasure. What was she supposed to do? Walk into the shabby office of a couple of shady operators and announce that she needed protection because she was waiting for a boat captain to deliver a jewel encrusted bird? What do you think the odds are that she would have gotten the bird if she had told Spade up front what it was all about? I'd say pretty slim. Spade had larceny in his heart. Brigid wasn't psychotic. She was totally rational. Spade used his brains and his fists. Brigid used her brains and her tits. It was a pretty even match up, but she lost.

Now, on a certain level, I do agree with you about the people pursuing the Falcon being a bit nuts. They're obsessed, but I don't think they're psychotic. Their actions make too much sense.

> Okay! The "blond Satan" bit is what Spade looked like.
> There is a cunning cast to his face that makes him
> look shrewd. I don't believe that Hammett meant or
> implied he was 'satanic' philosophically.
> I define a psychotic as a person whose reality has
> little in common with the reality of the people they
> live around. Psychosis is a very interesting and hard
> to detect mental disorder. One of the first signs is
> irrational lying. If a person lies for no logical
> reason, (a logical reason for lying is to hide
> embarrassment) they are quite possibly psychotic.
> People who believe they are on the trail of a
> priceless heirloom which is more important to them
> than human life are, by definition, psychotic. Even if
> they're right, which in this case they were not, this
> is an irrational method of solving a problem.
> O'Shaughnessy has no reason whatsoever not to put her
> cards on the table when she first meets Spade &
> Archer. Her intent is to manipulate and use them. All
> of these people seeking the Falcon are psychotics.
> Their shared reality is completely out of wack. Spade,
> due to his experience with criminals, can get his head
> around their reality without getting sucked into it.
> This is really his talent.
> Couple of interesting points: psychosis is a mental
> disorder. Sociopathy, a word which today is often used
> interchangeably with psychosis, is a personality
> disorder. This is an important distinction. They share
> narcissism but a sociopath may be in the here and now,
> just think they're better than other people to the
> extent they don't have to obey the same rules. A
> psychotic always has an unique world-view. That's the
> difference. These two disorder afflict about 5% of US
> citizens. Less than 1% of psychotics &/or sociopaths
> are actually criminals. They tend to be very
> charismatic, often have high IQs, many people driven
> to executive jobs suffer from these problems. Richard
> Nixon, for instance, is literally a text-book example
> of a psychopath as was his Attorney General, John
> Mitchell. They believed that the schemes they worked
> up were more important than the laws they were both
> sworn to defend.
> Patrick King

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