Net One R5


ltmo145d
suspense fiction
earl jackson, jr.
fall 1998


Response One/FIVE



1

2

3

4

5

eden’s

group

7

8

9

10

1

While Cornell Woolrich’s text[novel] Rendezvous in Black might initially appear to illustrate the premise that randomness dictates the „order“ of the universe [Doesn’t the mechanism of the plot and the irony of justice served actually make a case for exactly the opposite cosmological viewpoint?], it requires a further inquiry into the text to honor the full picture that is created by this author [writer].

Woolrich’s question of the existence of a deterministic world is posed in many places throughout the text. [Does he question that posibility or posit such a world? To posit such a world is not necessarily to question the concept of one. Your unwillingness to suspend disbelief may be generating the questioning of that deterministic world, not Woolrich or his textual system.] I will trace this questioning by examining the following elements that appear to answer to this foray: specific moments within the narrative that bear an authorial fingerprint which seem to propose a meta-perspective of human „nature“ and the revenge plot Johnny Marr executes in an attempt to usurp the clockmaker’s determinism.

Cornell Woolrich’s Rendezvous in Black ends with the narrative posing the rhetorical question „And what is love anyway but the unattainable, the reaching out toward an illusion“ (212). This may be understood as a denial of love, yet it may also mean that love leads its followers towards illusions and that blind followers (perhaps this is co-opting for the sake of my own ideas, but…) like the blind followers of any faith are bound to commit atrocities when not examining the relative truth value of the principles involved [The quote is completely out of context, so it’s impossible to follow an argument anyway, but you let the metaphors run away with your critical take on the novel here – „illusion/blind/blind followers, etc.]. Further focus is given in the text when Madelaine waits for her killer/boyfriend to arrive and her as well as everyone’s fallibility and superficiality is underlined. „That decided her, inversely.“ (Woolrich 129).

Perhaps it is more a testament to my shock at the calculated words inciting calculated responses, but this scene paints a banal portrait of domesticated primate mating rituals. [What did this have to do with mating rituals, or any natural ‚instincts‘ at all? Isn’t this closer to the death drive?] Madeline’s naiveté echoes on in the waiting area where a clock stands above them all with each person watching it for the telling of their fates. This critique of unexamined motives providing impetus continues throughout.

Another moment of its clarity occurs when Madeline lies to her mother: „When you want to believe, you believe.“ (Woolrich 132). This serves again to reaffirm the hollowness that follows from a person allowing themselves to retain a superficial understanding of the world. The revenge of Johnny Marr may only be an arbitrary unleashing of anger and rebellion toward a world that has grown dark where it was once basking in light. Still though, the narrative points at many problems in those that he kills throughout and these points are where the author seems to be describing an anger of his own.

It is not necessarily the sole act of revenge that Johnny Marr enacts [Word choice: „the act … that JM enacts]within Rendezvous in Black . There is also a usurping of roles which occurs. [Mixing categories imprecisely – a deliberate act on the one and and then something „that occurs.“ That makes your first claim unsubstantiated.] Johnny takes upon himself the persona of god or judge. [A judge takes on the authority to decide the punishments/rewards over situations that die not involve her or him. Johnny’s motivation is entirely visceral and sustained by the same immediate tropism of „See how you like it“ that seized him at the moment of his grisly loss.]

In a religious system it would be god and in a judicial system it would be judge, jury, and executioner [Be cautious about generalized assumptions, especially when they do not contribute to your specific argument.]

 

Regardless of the specific term that may apply, Johnny takes lives in a highly systematic way which suggests a couple of things. He may be seeking revenge and justice that would be virtually unattainable otherwise (due to a beauracratic hierarchical legal system with class prejudices). Also though, Johnny may be creating his own vision of utopia [Utopia? This is hell on earth for him as well as for the targets and vehicles of his disconsolate vengence] where the people who cause another to experience tragic loss know the experience of this loss themselves. In this reading, a karmic retribution is installed by Johnny where it may only have existed theoretically before. With this in mind, each of the five murders following the first are moralistic nails in the coffin of myopic love.[The conclusion here is hard to follow. Please reread.]

 

 

The first and perhaps least clear is perhaps the moral of a man who lacks emotion, but before I go on with this list, this first case points the most to reading Johnny Marr as a victim who mirrors the crimes against his own self. The second being a person who violates one love for another and then in reverse. The third being a person who violates his love for the sake of a seemingly arbitrary war [Arbitrary war? This is WWII and getting the Nazi’s out of power! You are taking the free indirect discourse representation of the married couple’s anger at the war separating them and literalizing it into an actual interpretation of the war and the husband’s acceptance of the draft. Not a single character in the book holds this opinion, and it is certainly not the belief of either the narrator or Johnny Mar.].

In this case, the wife, Sharon, can not bear to be alone which is a fault perhaps, but nonetheless it defines necessity. The fourth is a daughter who is loved at a distance by her father

[These characters have no pasts, no family, no other aspects but those presented directly in the text. They are cardboard, two-dimensional gestures.], but ultimately she seeks something greater and she responds to her family as a controlling apparatus that falls short of her desires [That’s what families are for].

The fifth love is a man who faltered in his relationship and then never regains it.

[Isn’t his relationship with his wife completely beside the point here?] His marriage is loveless and its defining moment is when he pretends to have as much interest in his wife as the morning newspaper.

It is impossible to ascribe a label of deterministic or non-deterministic to Woolrich’s text. It is certainly true though that Rendezvous in Black is a text about how unaware people are to the motions they go through. Within this framework, Woolrich suggests not only that the unexamined life is not worth living, but also the examined life can refuse any revelation as well. Perhaps ultimately it is some feeling that Johnny sought like serial killers who speak of wanting to see if they will feel anything if they kill another

. [Such a inference is completely unsupported in the text. He was a perfectly normal american fiance before his fiance was killed. Is it not the same coldness that inhabits Johnny that characterizes him as „the death that walked upright like a man“ (Woolrich 210)? [No, it isn’t. Remember this description of him is from either the narrator’s or another character’s point of view. It is not Johnny’s expression of himself, and therefore cannot be read as any information of Johnny’s own self-perception of his psychological makeup. This is an interesting slip, that actually deserves some more attention when we get to Free Indirect Discourse in our

discussion of In a Lonely Place.]

It follows by Woolrich’s references to humans as a whole [this is not a sentence.] that we might apply the metaphor of coldness and superficiality to our own selves.

Is it not the same coldness that It follows by Woolrich’s references to humans as a whole [this is not a sentence.] that we might apply the metaphor of coldness and superficiality to our own selves.

 

 

 


 


1

2

3

4

5

eden’s

group

7

8

9

10

1