I do have Naremore's book on my computer, so maybe I'll take a look again. I wish he expressed his theories in a much more straightforward way, as propositions or hypotheses. I do not see why we as readers have to bear the burden of figuring out exactly what he's trying to say. Why not come right out and say it? By the time we get to the end of his book, he reduces the concept of noir to virtual nothingness!
"There is, in fact, no transcendent reason why we should have a noir category at all. Whenever we list any movie under the noir rubric, we do little more than invoke a network of ideas as a makeshift organizing principle, in place of an author, a studio, a time period, or a national cinema. By such means, we can discuss an otherwise miscellaneous string of pictures, establishing similarities and differences among them."
Is this the book's conclusion?
If the seminal book on film noir origins has yet to be written, then I encourage you to write it! And stop worrying about Eddie Muller.
The books on the history of jazz can serve as a model. It too has disputed and foggy origins. It too was a music that was difficult to define, which caused disputes. It too has phases.
Even today, ideas about who did what and when vary. Some consensus does exist on seminal figures and innovations; but there are quite wide differences in evaluations.
The writing on jazz and jazz itself are not simply an organizing principle, as Naremore has it for noir. There is a real something whose characteristics can be ascertained. Isn't the same true of noir?
Let Eddie Muller do his thing, and do not let him or his work interfere with or gobble up your own goals. His thing should not be a reference point or pole for your efforts. It should only be one of many references that have risen in the literature on noir.
If noir films act as a "subversive impulse", what is it subverting? And what is the evidence of that subversion? Are you saying that noir films assume moral ambiguity or promote it in some innovative way? Are they influential? Are they part of a broader stream that came in with Nietzsche? I think that any such statements have to be thought through and spelled out in detail if they are to be accepted and become part of the general theory of film noir. Do you mean to suggest that this impulse is a or the central property of noir?
In order to connect noir to surrealism, one has to develop what the latter stood for. Like any -ism, this is not so easy. Descriptions of it and its essence vary. You have to specify what threads stand out and how they relate to noir films.