Example Two

Example Two

Example Two- Excerpt from:


„Marlowe’s Sexual Preference“

[excerpt begins with the opening paragraph]

Detectives don’t take a case because they want to solve it — they possibly don’t ever want it to be solved. The chase of the truth, or a least the semblance of truth, thrills them. Money is only a pretense for their true motive for taking the case. Desire is the real driving force behind detectives‘ actions, and the desire leads to lust, obsession, and fetishizing. The chase of the case then satisfies them far more than, and thereby replacing their need for, sex. Philip Marlowe, in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, has a fetish for mysteries, sticking to a case even when no-one clearly employs him. His need for the mystery exceeds his need for employment.

Solving is case is like a hunt; the predator spies his prey, tracks it, and then seizes it. For detectives, the pursuit of the victim yields more pleasure than its capture. Finding out the information, discovering the clues are attention consuming, and for the detective’s every thought to turn to the case at hand. Beautiful men and women may throw themselves in front of the detectives, but the detectives rarely take much action. They prefer to spend their time tracking a murdered than having sex. Intercourse always ends, but an unsolved murder has the potential to remain a mystery.

Sex and a mystery are comparable for detective like Marlowe.Looking for a mystery to solve is like looking for someone with whom to have sex. In both cases, the person is searching for any possibilities, any intriguing people. When one is found, the person then waits — in one case for a mystery, in the other for sex. Marlowe finds himself inexplicably drawn to Terry Lennox, and repeatedly assists him, although they’re barely more than strangers. The night they first meet, Marlowe witnesses a peculiar scene outside a restaurant, which draws him to talk to Terry (Chandler 3-4). Marlowe only talks to him because he can sense that Terry is hiding a secret; Marlowe actually voices this idea to Terry on page nine, by saying, „I’m thinking there’s something behind all this that’s none of business.“ This leads into the next step of the relationship, which is either sex or a case.

In sex, the excitement builds up greater and greater as time moves past, and in the case, as the detective discovers more and more clues, his/her knowledge builds up. Sticking with Terry through the months eventually did bring Marlowe to a mystery: did Terry murder his wife Sylvia? Marlowe talks with Terry so that he can discover clues, and then talks to other people whom Terry knew, so that he can piece together the entire story. He is employed by the Wades, because of their mutual acquaintanc, and introduces himself to Linda Loring when he suspects that she too knew Terry (82, 160-161). By meeting these people, Marlowe could begin constructing his own ideas of what happened to Sylvia Lennox.

Mysteries and sex don’t build up at a steady rate; there have been dead ends and plateaux. In Marlowe’s case, when he begins to understand more, he pulls away, as if trying to pause in the case, to revel in the newfound information before rushing to the next clue. He does this by acting moody. He talks with other people, and then just when the reader thinks he’s starting to get somewhere, he pulls away from them by analyzing them. One such instance occurs when he talks to Dr. Loring as he’s making a house-call to the Wades‘. After several conversations with the man, which leave plenty to ponder, Marlowe tells hims succinctly, „a professional man you’re a handful of dirt“ (p192). By not letting himself get involved in any aspect too quickly, Marlowe prolongs the solution to the case. His moodiness may therefore be a subconscious excuse to push people away from him, which in turn is an excuse for him to pause in the case. During this pause, he often returns to his house or retreats from other people, such as to the lakeshore at the Wades‘ (p273, 252). May detectives in novels repeat this same behavior of pausing mid-case, here are just a few examples: Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon often returns to his office, Inspector Morse fades out of the plot for entire chapters at points in The Way Through the Woods, and Harriet Vane finds many other reasons to distract herself from the mysteryin Gaudy Night. This delaying of gratification results in lengthening the pleasure the detective receives from the case.
The detectives pleasure must come to an end, which is the solution, comparable to the climax in sex. The detective is now satisfied, and relaxes after discovering the solution. There is nothing left for him to do, until he begins to crave another mystery. Then, like sex, the entire cycle starts over again.


Realizing that this is a cycle and that it contains these elements does not immediately lead to comprehension of why it happens. We may never understand why human beings behave the way they do; the best we have accomplished thus far consists of identifying behavior patterns. Psychologists, the most experienced people on the subject, work towards this identificatin, and Freud is probably the most well known in the field. Applying his theory of the Oedipus Complex to a detective, a possible motive for the male detective’s fetish surfaces. As a child, the detective feared castration, and overcame his fear by desiring the object which it represented (his mother). The detective later doesn’t understand himself, and begins fearing death and destruction. He again overcomes his fear by desiring the very thing which frightens him: death. Frightened of discovering the meaning of death, he now lusts for discovering it.

[. . . ]

A typical detective, Marlowe can used as a model for the text-book analysis of a detective. However boring or thrilling a mystery may become, a definite pattern emerges in his/her behavior. Freud may have struck a workable theory, but its narrowness limits application. The opposite theory to Oedipus, Electra, does not translate well to a female detective, and is not nearly as detailed as the heterosexual male version. The only clear result of analyzing a detective is the universality of this rule: hunting the murderer is infinitely more enticing than finding the murderer.


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