Posts Tagged ‘james bond’

Earlier this year, one of my papers was published in the inaugral issue of the Goldsmiths ECL departmental e-journal, which is very exciting. Although I have largely moved away from James Bond, this article I think quite nicely encapsulates some of my early work. It’s called ‘The Fate of the World Rests in Your Hands, 007: Where Crisis and the Symbolic Order Come In (in the Spy Genre)’.

By the end of Casino Royale (1953), James Bond is confronted with a crisis of identity. Increasingly his perception of the symbolic order, society’s unwritten constitution represented by the government he serves, is failing. It is no longer something he can subscribe to, yet he is unable to articulate or properly make sense of why, nor can he imagine another order to which a sense of reality can be attributed. Bond’s experience as the anxious subject struggling against the higher power of authority is compounded by his position as an agent for the British Secret Service. Throughout Ian Fleming’s fourteen-book series, the dominating plotline is not that of an all-conquering superspy set to save Western civilisation, but that of a subject seeking reconciliation with a lost identity, a repressed self attempting to redefine his body and his subjective identity in terms of his role as assassin. In this paper, I turn to Lacan’s conception of the symbolic order, to examine the crisis of identity that erupts in James Bond at the imago [1] of Bond-as-machine. Faith in the symbolic order is traditionally what holds the spy-hero together; though intangible, it is what spurs the spy to action and what allows his actions to be justified. Yet, in the James Bond series, this order is a source of conflict and appears to be the very thing that causes Bond’s breakdown. Induced by Rene Mathis, this imago is a violent disruption to Bond’s experience of himself as a living, thinking subject, causing Bond to disconnect from the symbolic order he serves. Yet the spy genre is full of anxious subjects struggling to protect a symbolic order and convince themselves that the symbolic order is worth protecting. Fleming’s portrayal of James Bond is just one in a long history of anxious subjects in the spy genre. Here I first offer an examination of the symbolic order and look at two examples of how the relationship between it and the spy-hero and symbolic order developed.

There are a lot of other articles in the issue that are well worth reading, so definitely check it out. I have an article to be released in the second issue, entitled , hopefully in the next month or so, entitled ‘Cause for Alarm: How in becoming spy holes develop in the hero’s Symbolic order’.

Other exciting news is that I will be off to Mexico to speak at the HUC conference in November. Now to buy my tickets…


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For most of the last month, if I haven’t been editing physics text books (I’m a freelance editor in my other life, have I mentioned that?), I’ve been eagerly researching my claim to theory and steadily building up a literary review. While very useful and generally a rather good thing for a research student to be up to, all this reading has meant I’ve done virtually no actual writing on my thesis. This part of things is less useful and a good deal panic-inducing.

To get myself on the road back to diligent writerly studenting, yesterday I set to work editing some of my work into a paper to submit to a graduate journal. This piece is related to my current thesis work, but is based on an old draft of a former direction. It’s a good place for me to experiment with how to express my approach to theory, but it’s also a good way of examining and reaffirming my approach to the primary texts, in this case the James Bond, 007 series.

I’ve largely decided to veer away from Bond for my thesis. He seems like the obvious choice when studying spy fiction, and he is invaluable in many ways, but for my purposes he is a far better springboard into the secret agents that follow. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is batty about the fellow and keep sending out calls for papers to discuss him rather than his legacy. Even so, I’m peeved that I’ve come across the CfP for Bond Girls: Sex and the Secret Agent so late, irked that I missed Improbable Plots: Making Sense of Contemporary Popular Fiction and decidedly miffed with myself for completely overlooking James Bond and Co: Spies, Espionage and Thrillers in a Cultural Context.

These are the first conferences I’ve come across specifically covering my area and I’ve missed the chance to go to any. The last one by a mere 5 days for registration submission at that.

Lesson learned. From now on, bugger email; the first place I’m going to each morning is UPenn.

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