Well Mark, your repeated question about what constitutes a non-"real-world discussion" is one I think very well suited to a noir forum as the genre frequently deals with what might be considered to be real versus what is valued. That is the central conflict in The Maltese Falcon for instance--one man fixed on survival issues versus a group pursuing some object that dreams are made of. I think it's safe to say that Spade has grown to iconic status, which is ironic in a country dedicated to the pursuit of happiness and inspired by the cry to "give me liberty or give me death," both highly romantic ideas. Not that we're entirely indifferent to happiness up here in Soviet Canuckistan.
The pace of change increased so quickly through the industrial era, backed by scientific discovery and philosophy (not that I'm anything more than a curious observer in these areas) that I'm beginning to feel "real" has become mostly a rhetorical word used largely by people worried they're being left behind. I may be projecting here because I'm sure I've expressed reality in such terms on RA. It might also apply to Ron C. in this case, and it to some rare academics who get defensive because information so quickly slips the bounds of their institutions that they (these very few academics) exagerate or puff up the exclusivity of their knowledge.
It's all about politics in the broader sense, which is also so much what noir is about. What I'm writing here is strictly bullshit, of course, but it was ever thus. So much of what was deemed real in the past is now widely accepted as not real, and so much of what we think real now is questionable because of the perceptual limitations of human senses and the illusions our minds create trying to make sense of what's perceived, or perceived with aids, or that vast expanse of is yet be percieved. Facts, as little as we're able to know them, have proven remarkably flexible to interpretation through time (as little as we know time.)
Clearly a common reality, useful as it is to civilization, has to be determined, even force-fed, by culture, ultimately expressed through narrative. As Rara Avis is an ongoing discussion about one genre of written narrative, I suggest we are, at this very moment, having a "real-world discussion."
Kerry, who likes to advance the "anal" in analytic.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark D. Nevins
Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2009 8:39 AM
Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Historical analysis books...
Well, Ron, your "intended message" was not at all "clear in my mind," and furthermore your "puffery" comment caused your post overall to come across to me as small-minded, thoughtless, unintelligently generalizing, and potentially of a "trolling" nature.
Your equivocating in your follow-up post below, i.e., that you didn't really mean the comment the way it seems to have been taken by all of the members who have responded thus far, and that you hadn't read the books you were dismissing in such a disparaging way anyway, does not seem to helping your case much.
(Who remains curious about what exactly constitutes a non-"real-world discussion.")
Ron C wrote:
I'm frankly a bit surprised anyone took offense at my benign, quantitative
remark. Rather than seeing it as uncalled for and blindly ghettoizing a
type of analytical work and, for that matter, even the fundamental purpose
of this group, I do wish it had been read in the context in which it was
I clearly indicated I had not read any of them, so am not passing judgment
on any of works, nor am I calling that type of analytical work or analytical
discussions "puffery" in general. Quite the contrary...I respect and
*enjoy* works and discussion of that sort, hence my reason for starting a
discussion about them, and for remaining a member of Rara-Avis for more
years than I can recall.
My comments were instead meant to quantify that A). that specific, narrow
type of puffery -- elitist, indulgent puffery that adds little value to any
real-world discussion -- exists, and B). those works, from what very little
I've read of them, seem to smack of it. My comment was not intended to cast
aspersions on literary discussions, nor was it intended to paint the entire
breadth of written genre analysis with that an indiscriminate brush.
I'm regret you took offense at my comment, but I do hope that my intended
message was more clear in the minds of the other members; I hope, too, that
I've clarified it for you. I don't intend to clutter the email boxes of the
RA members any further on this subject, so that's my final comment on the
matter. Happy reading everyone.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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