RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 24 Jul 2008

  • Next message: Sean Shapiro: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir"

    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "davezeltserman" <davezelt@...> wrote:
    > I'm not disagreeing that comic books can't be noir, but I think
    > there's a BIG difference between (tragedy, gothic gloom, darkness) and
    > noir. Tragedy can involve a heroic act or simply inevitability. My
    > definition of noir involves a damning, a character giving into his
    > baser instincts and weaknesses and dooming himself either psychically
    > or physically. I look at The Dark Night (a movie that I thought was
    > great) as more of a tragedy. Batman/Bruce Wayne may feel conflicted,
    > but his motivations are still to do what he feels is the right thing,
    > and ultimately he sacrifices a large part of himself for what he feels
    > is the common good. You don't typically see self-sacrifice in noir.

    It isn't always a damning by the character's weakness... sometimes it's just the individual, defenseless, in the middle of a course of events that swallows him. The work of Franz Kafka is the model for this type of noir, let's say, non-Dostoyevskian noir, ir K-noir (for Josef K.). The great Italian writer Dino Buzzati has written much in this vein, both short stories and novels (notably The Desert of the Tartars). One of his best stories, Sette Piani (Seven Stories) has a quintessential defenseless individual.

    One can be fucked for many reasons, but personal weakness is only one of them. You can just be fucked by circumstances. You are caught as in a spider's web. This point of view is realistic, in my opinion. Humans are no more than an accident, they don't control anything.

    It is likely that writers like Kafka and Buzzati would say that everybody is defenseless, that there is no assurance about anything. Even in the country that invented _life_ insurance. The optimism of countrol is a sham, in other words. That would be the point of view of this type of noir, which was also (sometimes) practiced by Woolrich. The other type (Goodis) is tied to sin and is less modern.

    Part of the talent of Jason Starr has been in combining both types of noir in one narrative. For example, innocent guys get trapped and then lose it, they go into Dostoyevski-noir.



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