But noir isn’t a style, or even a genre… noir is an attitude, a worldview: a suspicion that something is irredeemably wrong at the heart of the universe.
Which is why most detective films don’t really count as noir. Detective and cop stories, no matter how grim or hardboiled, are almost always “corrective,” concerned with restoring a natural order. Murderers are revealed, lost valuables recovered, lawbreakers punished, our faith in the system restored. In noir, the natural order itself is flawed or corrupted, the system offers no rescue. The best the noir hero can hope to achieve isn’t balance or redemption but immunity, and corruption, failure and death are never remote possibilities.
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”—Gary Provost (via unafraidunashamed)
“So I kept writing through the summer, and in August the baby was born and I’d cradle him in my left arm while writing melodies at the piano with my right, and I said, let Osiris the keeper of the gates be my witness, other songwriters may go soft when they get to be parents but I am going to keep going all the way down into the inner darkness, it will set a good example for the baby, and besides, what am I going to do, suddenly start writing songs about cute things instead of songs about how to wrest cries of triumph from the screaming places? Please. May the baby grow up to spit in my face if I should pose that hard.”—John Darnielle! New Mountain Goats album in October! (via synecdoche)