What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? ... You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.
-- Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Lately, I find myself reading "noir" crime fiction and thinking about the genre as a way to explain the world. It may have something to do with the fact I'm an American critical of my government and losing hope that positive change is even possible. As hope evaporates, there seems less and less space between political reality and the criminal underworld. Or maybe it's the obverse of a militarist obsession with Tom Clancy and War On Terror thrillers.
The adherents of wealth, power and violence seem so entrenched and in control that those without power become doomed to ineffectual marginalization and, if they poke their heads up too far, in danger of having their intentions and actions criminalized.
This feeling of an amoral tide overwhelming society is hardly new, and for sure, there have been worse times in human history. But knowing that doesn't help when you look around and see exactly what W. B. Yeats was talking about in his famous 1919 poem "The Second Coming":
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
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