Re: RARA-AVIS: The Birth of Silly Noir

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 14 Jun 2009

  • Next message: Mark Sullivan: "RE: RARA-AVIS: The Birth of Silly Noir"

    From: "Kevin Burton Smith" <>

    > I'm a big Monty Python fan myself (and maybe the over-educated
    > eggheads in the Flying Circus were indeed inspired by this Jarry cat),
    > yet the excesses in Flexer's book didn't strike me as being funny. Or
    > at least intentionally so.
    > Instead, I feel the humour is being used to justify its excesses.
    > Mostly after the fact, because THE DISASSEMBLED MAN certainly wasn't
    > originally presented to me as comedy.
    > Sort of the same way I was informed that one of your last books
    > shouldn't be judged as serious noir either, but as Jacobean parody or
    > something. Not that that's how it was originally (or even
    > subsequently) promoted, of course.

    Hard Man, the book you're referring to, has a solitary blurb on the front cover. It reads 'An Edinburgh festival of lip-smacking gruesomeness and black comedy." Which pretty much sums up Jacobean revenge drama, I'd have thought. At the very least, it surely indicates that there might be some humorous intent between the covers and indicates what form that humour might take. Also, I ran a Hard Man blog at the time the book was released, which stated pretty clearly that the book was "Ultra-violent. Grand Guignol. Jacobean" in really big letters at the top of the page.

    Incidentally, in the book a guy named Brian, nicknamed Jesus, gets crucified. If you're a big Monty Python fan you might notice a (very deliberate) connection there.

    As for birthing 'silly noir', sorry, Eddie Muller squeezed that baby out first. To be precise, he called the 'extreme noir' of Hard Man,
    'slapstick-silly'. And I'm pretty sure Charlie Williams and myself were discussing it around the year 2000 or so, certainly long before either of us were published. I think we concluded that 'absurd noir' or 'mad noir' might have more commercial appeal however.

    Re Monty Python and Jarry: Jarry invented 'pataphysics, from which the pataphor is derived. It seems to me that the pataphor is the template for much of Gilliam's animations.'Pataphysics


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