1. This essay is a substantially revised and updated version of two of my previously published writings: "'It's All a Big Nothing': The Nihilistic Vision of The Sopranos" (in The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am, ed. Richard Greene and Peter Vernezze, [Chicago: Open Court, 2004], 37-47) and a chapter, "The Nihilistic Vision of Film Noir and The Sopranos," from my book Nihilism in Film and Television ([Jefferson, NC: Mc-Farland, 2006], 27-54). These prior writings focused primarily on the first two seasons of the series while making the same general argument as the current essay, which refers to six seasons. I thank the editors at Open Court Publishing and McFarland for their kind permission in allowing me to incorporate some of the material from those works.

2. My general description here follows the standard analysis of film noir as rooted in a nihilistic worldview and centered upon the moral ambiguity of the protagonist, though some scholars disagree. For example, see the essay in this volume by Aeon J. Skoble, as well as an earlier essay in which he gives a moral-realist interpretation of film noir: "Moral Clarity and Practical Reason in Film Noir," in The Philosophy of Film Noir, ed. Mark T. Conard (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006), 41-48.

3. For my general understanding of film noir I have benefited from a study of such articles and books as Paul Schrader, "Notes on Film Noir," in Perspectives on Film Noir, ed. R. Barton Palmer (New York: G. K. Hall, 1996; first published in 1972 in Film Comment by Film Comment Publishing); Bruce Crowther, Film Noir: Reflections in a Dark Mirror (New York: Continuum, 1989); Robert G. Porfirio, "No Way Out: Existential Motifs in the Film Noir," in Palmer, Perspectives on Film Noir; Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton, "Towards a Definition of Film Noir," trans. Alain Silver, in Film Noir Reader, ed. Alain Silver and James Ursini (New York: Limelight, 1996, first published in 1955 in Panorama du Film Noir Américain by Les Éditions de Minuit).

4. Nietzsche's references to nihilism may be found throughout his collected works, but see most especially "Book One: European Nihilism" of The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1968). Nietzsche does make a distinction between "passive" or "pathological" nihilism, a basic attitude of life-negation, and "active" or "healthy" nihilism, an attitude that rejects traditional values but that also affirms one's own life and individuality. In this essay I refer primarily to the former meaning.

Part 3

Crime Scene Investigation and the Logic of Detection

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