October 25, 2011 Leave a comment
October 22, 2011 3 Comments
Casino Royale (1953) is the first of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, and since I’ve decided to write my master’s thesis on this classic series of espionage novels, blogging about the series would be a help to my own writing process. I’ll be dealing with the semiotic and propaganda effects of real events being fictionalized, and then the resulting impact and purpose of the fiction as it passes into mass media consumption. As Fleming himself noted, “everything I write has precedent in truth.”
This is crucial to keep in mind as one works through the novels and films, as it becomes clearer and clearer that Fleming, himself a top British intelligence agent, gradually reveals the means and methods of control and manipulation by the top of the pyramid. Bond himself is a cog in this machine, situated as the symbol of the loyal, western, capitalist hemisphere, battling what he discovers to be the evil Soviet anti-spy agency, SMERSH. SMERSH is a kind of Soviet “Secret Team” that proclaims “death to all spies.”
In the beginning, however, Bond is not after SMERSH, but a wealthy, disfigured rogue who stuck out on his own and created a “fifth column” from SMERSH, named LeChiffre. LeChiffre translates as “the cypher,” letting us know more is at work here. LeChiffre, according to Bond writer Ian MacIntyre, was based on British Satanist/occultist Aleister Crowley.
In fact, Ian Fleming, it has recently been claimed by researcher Anthony Masters, was responsible for crafting the plot to lure Rudolph Hess to Scotland based on a bogus astrological chart that tickled Hess’ fancy, created by Crowley. The plot worked, apparently, and Hess parachuted into Scotland and was captured. LeChiffre, “the cypher,” has curious features, and like many Bond villains a strange sexual appetite and fixation, in the same vein as Crowley.
Soon into the novel, Bond meets his first “Bond girl,” Vesper Lynd, who will double-cross him and be exposed as a SMERSH agent working under duress. What’s interesting is that a team of Bulgarian communists attempts to assassinate Bond with an explosive device soon after Bond arrives in the fictional Royale-Les-Eaux in Northern France. The explosion fails in its design, however, and a cover story is created, blaming in on leftist, communistic terror. Read more of this post
October 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Since many readers of this blog are highly fluent in this area, any recommendations that are missing that are relevant are welcomed (aside from Fleming’s Bond novels themselves). My thesis is on Fleming, Bond and the relation between semiotics and propaganda in espionage fiction and film. -Jay
Most Relevant Books:
The Politics of James Bond: From Fleming’s Novels to the Big Screen by: Jeremy Black
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by: Ben MacIntyre
The Bond Code: The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond by: Philip Gardiner
Ian Fleming and James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007 Ed.: Edward Comentale
James Bond and Philosophy Eds. South and Held Read more of this post
October 17, 2011 1 Comment
In the wake of the publicity for the upcoming Mission Impossible 4, I thought it would be relevant to do an analysis of Mission Impossible III. Part III starred Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian, an international black market arms and weapons dealer. Spy and espionage films are often the best forms of fiction that function as windows into real plots and intrigues, and Mission Impossible is no different.
In fact, Tom Cruise’s central character, Ethan Hunt, is based on spy mastermind, E. Howard Hunt. Hunt confessed a few years ago to being involved in the JFK assassination, laying the blame at the door of LBJ. The “Cigarette-Smoking Man” of X-Files fame also appears to be loosely based on E. Howard Hunt: both are involved in high-level assassination plots, including the assassination of JFK and MLK in the X-Files episode “Musings of a Cigarette Smiking Man.” Both are known for authoring novels under pseudonyms, too.
In Mission Impossible III, however, Hunt is in his usual role of heroic super-agent. Davian has kidnapped one of Hunt’s trainees, and injected her with a detonatable microchip, and upon rescue the chip detonates. She warns Hunt of the “invisible man” and that the overall plan is an “inside job.” Where have we heard that terminology before? The plot then indicts the Vatican in dealing with Davian, and the IMF team has to infiltrate the See to kidnap Davian to keep him from obtaining the “rabbit’s foot,” which is said to be an anti-matter sort of compound, later identified as “anti-God,” which bring to mind the Angels & Demons plot of Dan Brown. Read more of this post
October 17, 2011 1 Comment
I saw Contagion with a theater full of baby-boomers and senior citizens who frequently commented throughout how realistic and scary Contagion was. I had to snicker at this. Contagion is like a remake of Outbreak, and Outbreak is awful. Outbreak is worse than the worst episode of the A-Team, minus the captivating dialogue. Contagion isn’t much better, aside from the good acting with the all-star lineup. The entire film is like watching a public service announcement for government vaccines: something they would make you watch in high school. It’s total fear propaganda – the only thing contagious is the fear spread by the film. I’m reminded of the “H1N1″ scare of a few years back, where the system told us we were all dead. And what happened? Nothing. Only the weakest minded, most oblivious fools still thinks the system loves the public and has its best interest at heart.
Connections are made in the film to SARS, which was an engineered bio release, and as I watched, I immediately thought of V for Vendetta, where a planned bio-release kills thousands of Catholics. Recently, the BBC did a show called Survivors that was well done along the same lines, where a pharmaceutical corporation allows a bio-release to get out, killing 95% of the population. In fact, the BBC pops up in the film, as well as CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. This should tell you who’s on the inside in terms of mass media. I’m reminded as well of The Stand, The Passage, and a host of other Zombie films. We seem to have an apocalyptic fascination in Amerika. In fact, the “virus” in Contagion is a pig-bat-bird mutation that kills within 24 hours. Read more of this post
October 16, 2011 5 Comments
The Magus by John Fowles is a peculiar novel. It is not like anything I’d read previously – a kind of mix between the TV show Lost and the Michael Douglass movie, The Game, with a bit of Eyes Wide Shut thrown in for good measure: Imagine Aristotle Onassis with a penchant for psychological warfare. Its protagonist is a young Oxford graduate named Nicholas Urfe who, having become bored of philandering and partying, undergoes an existential crisis and embarks for a teaching position on the Greek island of Phraxos. Before leaving England, however, Nicholas breaks the heart of a beautiful Australian girl named Alison, as he quickly adopts an atheistic, nihilist worldview.
As he arrives, he finds that the island is not exactly what it appears to be. Nicholas wanders into the company of a wealthy Greek billionaire Named Maurice Conchis who seems to toy with Nicholas at every turn, befriending him, yet in a distant, disingenuous way. Nicholas begins to experience strange events that even make him question his own anti-supernatual presuppositions. He sees what he thinks are Greek gods, as well as playlets that seem to match up to the Marquis de Sade. Nicholas realizes that these masques become increasingly real, encompassing his entire existence on the island. Eventually, having partaken of a hallucinogenic drug, and falling in love with one of a pair of twins that appears to be in the employ of Maurice, Nicholas experiences another kind of breakdown, resulting in an initiation of sorts similar to the process one sees in Eyes Wide Shut, as I argued.
The novel is thus not a story of mere intrigue, but of induction into the mysteries. However, this novel presents the mysteries in a different fashion. In Fowles’ mind, the initiation is not one wherein Nicholas’ world status changes, adjoining him to the elite, but rather operates as a kind of grand “fuck you,” where Nicholas is forced to come to grips with the fact that there is an entire strata of individuals for whom generations of enormous wealth has occasioned a godlike status on earth. As such, in Flowles’ construal, the world becomes a kind of grand, global masque and stage. In fact, the novel is quite explicit that the controllers are the Illuminati. Read more of this post