James Bond at 50: The truth of 'Shaken, not Stirred'
This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes guest columnist Dr. Benjamin Pratt, a literary expert on Ian Fleming’s James Bond. On Monday, Dr. Pratt explained Fleming’s fascination with personifying 7 Deadlier Sins in his novels. On Tuesday, he explored Fleming’s first two “Deadlier” sins: Hypocrisy and Self-Righteousness. On Wednesday, he focused on Fleming’s take on Violence. On Thursday, the themes were Avarice and Snobbery. Today, Dr. Pratt’s series draws to a close.
In my book, where I have more than 150 pages, I go into depth about all of Fleming’s deadlier sins—and all of the James Bond novels (Amazon.con , Amazon.co.uk). In this OurValues series, I am closing this fifth column by listing the final two sins Fleming explores: Accide and Moral Cowardice. You will find Fleming’s parables of Moral Cowardice, especailly in Casino Royale, For Your Eyes Only and From Russia with Love.
Today, I want to explain the more unusual term: Accide. You’ll find parables of Accidie in Live and Let Die, Dr. No and You Only Live Twice.
But the dangerous concept of Accidie actually is captured in Bond’s most famous line: his martini order of “shaken, not stirred.” That phrase has surprisingly deeper meaning than its obvious reference to mixing a drink. Accidie occurs when your life is deeply shaken but you are no longer stirred to fight for the right and good in life. Accidie is the heart of the dragon without passion, spirit or vitality; it is consumed by sloth. Its blood is cool, fostering indifference, carelessness, boredom and cynicism about life and God. Fleming’s most evil characters—Dr. No, Blofeld and Mr. Big—all confess accidie in the novels.
In Live and Let Die, Bond encounters the exotic figure of Mr. Big, a Prince of Darkness who finances Soviet espionage in the Caribbean. At one point, this evil powerbroker captures Bond and actually confesses to 007 that he is “prey to what the early Christians called accidie.” He has fallen into this spiritual lethargy not becaue he has been defeated, Mr. Big declares, but because he has been supremely successful in his evil craft. Find this chilling scene in the original novel and you won’t soon forget it.
When we are in the grip of accidie and have lost energy and passion for life, we are more prone to moral cowardice, the soul of the evil dragon. Moral cowardice chooses personal gain, pleasure or power above the well being of the whole. Accidie leaves us without feeling and, like Mr. Big, we may be tempted even further to malice and cruelty. Accidie is the deadliest of all the sins, Fleming argues.
Where do you see accidie today? The movies are quite different than the novels ... Could similar arguments be made about the movies? Do you want to see more James Bond this fall?
Originally published on OurValues.org.
Here is Dr. Pratt’s first column …Ian Fleming made no secret about his purpose in writing the James Bond novels — but the world’s obsession with Bond’s exotic villains, beautiful women and spectacular international locations left the novelist’s deeper intentions largely forgotten until I published my book, explaining the author’s original themes and declared: “The code is broken. 007, James Bond (a.k.a. Saint George) is out to slay the seven deadlier evils we face in our society and in ourselves.”
It’s all true. Fleming was foreign editor of The Times of London and convinced some of Britain’s top authors to publish a now-out-of-print book about the Seven Deadly Sins. Reflecting on the work of these writers, Fleming wrote that none of those old sins would keep a person out of heaven, anymore. For example, we celebrate greed in the contemporary world.
So, Fleming created his list of "seven deadlier sins" and explored them in one Bond novel after another. He liked to refer to James Bond as St. George, making the point that he was a dragon slayer on an epic scale.
In Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, Fleming clearly explains that these stories would be “parables, proverbs and folklore about evil people.” At the end of this novel James Bond defines his own mission. He would not be a spy, but “he would go after the threat behind the spies. The threat that made them spy.”
Fleming’s point was that these evils are not alive in criminals—but inside each of us.
Here are the classic seven deadly sins…
Accidie (often listed as Sloth)
Covetousness (often listed as Greed)
In your comment today, guess which one of the seven Fleming retained.
Which of these sins are celebrated today?
Can you guess any of Fleming's seven deadlier sins?
Come back each day this week as we reveal and talk about Fleming’s Deadlier Sins.
Here is Dr. Pratt’s second column …Each day this week, I will reveal more about Fleming’s Deadlier Sins—temptations he believed were more dangerous today than the classic 7 Deadly Sins. Here are two from Fleming’s list:
Twins of Duplicity
Hypocrisy and Self-righteousness
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and HYPOCRISY: Ian Fleming personified hypocrisy in the ruthless Spang brothers and their Spangled Mob in the glittering Diamonds Are Forever. Fleming describes the passion for perfect diamonds as akin to the passion for ostentatious perfection that drives hypocrisy. Both worlds are ruthless and cold. Hypocrisy pretends that the imperfect is either not there at all, or, at least, can be obscured by glistening, jewel-bedecked beauty. Envision an evil dragon that detests its own tail, so tries to present only a perfect head to the world. This masking is aimed at one goal: to deny our imperfect, very human lives. Death and diamonds are forever! So is hypocrisy!
MOONRAKER and SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS: Self-righteousness is personified in Sir Hugo Drax (a phonetic play on the German word for dragon) in Moonraker. Self-righteousness is the loftiest head of the evil dragon. From a position of imagined superiority, this is a purist who believes, “I have the right and only answer.” We tend to chuckle about this sin and forget it, but the truth is: Self-righteousness is a potentially deadly evil, the malevolent force behind war as well as more common forms of pain that we visit on each other. A simple test for signs of self-righteousness: Does this person want to talk with me or only at me?
Where do you see hypocrisy and self-righteousness today?
When do these common failings
become deadly sins?
Please, leave a Comment below.
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values
Here is Dr. Pratt’s third column.If you are counting Fleming’s 7 Deadlier Sins, I introduced the first two on Monday. Today, I’m introducing a third: Violence, which Fleming himself differentiated as dangerous temptations toward cruelty and malice.
Nearly all the James Bond adventure tales are peppered with violence, sadism, cruelty and malice. James Bond is described as a man with a cruel mouth whose demeanor is ruthless and cold. Ironically, Fleming was not promoting violence.
One of Fleming’s closest colleagues for more than 20 years reports that Fleming said often that people only have the right to kill what they will eat — and nothing more. But, the Bond tales expose the dangers of violence, cruelty and malice in the world through Fleming’s parables about evil people.
Violence, cruelty and malice coupled with romantic fantasies, seductions, and sex are the threads that form "From Russia with Love." Grounded in Cold War mythology, this tale moves upward into the cosmic struggle between good and evil, the forces of light against the forces of darkness.
Bond does not appear in the first third of this tale. Instead, we are introduced to the merciless, meticulous, malicious people plotting Bond’s death and ignominy. Why kill a man unless you can ruin his reputation also? The executioners of the plan are cold, indifferent, calculating agents of violence. Their plots are hatched near Hell’s furnace.
We all need to shine more light on this common temptation toward violence, because it so easily breeds fear, chaos, confusion and terror in our souls. There are forms of violence that are sanctioned by society, even revered as sacred. Who writes the history and on which side of the rampart one stands determine whether the violence of the moment is just or unjust, whether the actors are terrorists or freedom fighters.
Where do you see violence celebrated?
Where do you see a dangerous escalation of violence?
How do you think Fleming handled violence?
Originally published on OurValues.org.
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