Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Random Notes On Redemption

Date: 05 Sep 2009

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Random Notes On Redemption"

    I've no argument with these ideas Kevin, except to suggest that maybe you haven't given nihilist noir a fair shot. I'm going to speculate that you'd include Camus among the nihilists. Maybe not, but his metaphorical use of the Sisyphusian (how's my spelling on that?) myth to illustrate the meaningless of life would suggest you might. Meaning is certainly questioned in The Stranger.

    If you do take this as nihilism, you haven't considered all the essay. Yes, Sysyphus rolls the rock up the mountain again and again only to see it roll back down each time, but he must be getting something out of it or he'd stop. In Greek mythology he's empowered by godly command but in Greek mythology the gods represent, at least in part, aspects of the human personality. Sisyphus' satisfaction is probably that of a job well done, Camus says, overcoming the obstacles of the mountain again and again. And yes, the situation is pointless and absurd, but the answer for humans is to develop an appreciation for the absurd. That absurdity maybe little more than another take on spirituality, but I'd like to suggest that it is also similar to your appreciation for tragic noir: an appreciation for the value of redemption despite its impossibility, if only to motivate enjoyment the genre itself.

    If so, I'm with you on that one, but it kind of indistinguishes the distinction between your two sub-genres. Well, you were impatient with all the banter about sub-genres as I recall, and with reason.

    By the way, I'd like to use your understanding about hair loss to illustrate what I tried to get at in other recent posts about a difference between redemption and acceptance in Sallis' bug books and No Country. Thanks.

    yours in baldness, Kerry

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Kevin Burton Smith
      Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 11:48 AM
      Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Random Notes On Redemption

      On Sep 5, 2009, at 1:38 AM, wrote:

    > I've gone bald splitting hairs on this list.

      That's my excuse, too.

      But I love this part:

    > A tale that illustrates the pointlessness, the impossibility of
      redemption? Noir, then.
    > Although if you believe in redemption then you might find it
      tragic. Tragic noir, perhaps.

      This probably sums up the sort of noir I like best. Without some sort
      of shot at redemption -- even if it's doomed from the beginning -- I
      still prefer it to the type that's too often just a wallow of dime
      store cynicism and penny ante nihilism. If I want that, I can just
      eavesdrop on the teenage geeks and their spiritual brethren who hang
      around comic stores and the graphic novel section of our own local
      bookstore, talking loudly in the hopes one day a girl will hear
      them. It's always easier to sneer than to think.

      Not to get too tutti-fruity about it theologically, but Hell is
      boring, if there isn't the possibility of some sort of Heaven.

      I think I have a hair or two left to split (okay, so it's an eyebrow
      hair). How about two sub-genres of noir? Nihilist noir and tragic noir?

      I could easily put much of what I think of as traditional noir (Cain,
      Hammett, some Chandler, Bruen, Woolrich, Starr, Abbott, Goodis, etc.)
      into the tragic slot, and much of what I've occasionally slagged as
      neo-nah into the nihilist bin.

      Anyway, I'm glad someone finally spelled "redemption" correctly.


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