Monday, April 27, 2015

Obama’s Dreams of Texas and Beyond

Russian hackers who snuck into President Obama’s unclassified computer system at the White House inadvertently sent some of their booty to all sorts of people around the globe. Including to me. I don’t think they meant to, but some hacker’s fingers probably strayed and included me in the privileged few. And I don’t even speak Russian!

 In her April 7th report, “Russian hackers got Obama's schedule in White House cyberattack” in The Hill, Elise Viebeck wrote:

Russian hackers who hit the White House infiltrated an unclassified computer system and apparently accessed details about President Obama's schedule.

While the White House previously sought to downplay the seriousness of the hack, which took place last year, the intruders were able to see information about the president that was not publicly available, CNN reported Tuesday.

Officials briefed on the investigation told CNN that the incident was connected to a Russian cyberattack that also breached the State Department's network.

Intimate knowledge of Obama’s activities would be seen as valuable to foreign intelligence agencies like Russia’s.

Officials with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Russian hackers were able to break into the White House system through their foothold within networks at the State Department.

The intrusion began when hackers sent what is known as a "phishing" email from a State Department account, infecting a White House computer with malware, the investigators said.

What came my way was the draft of a book being written (supposedly) by Barack Obama himself, tentatively titled Dreams for Me and Texas: A Fantasy.

I wish to share some of this 30,000-word draft with readers. It’s pretty damning and contains some knurly evidence that Barack Obama is a racist of the first order. But, if you’re a racist, you won't mind that.

Here are some excerpts on how Obama will start with Texas, then his successors will move on to the whole country. I wonder what Putin and the other Russians think of Dreams for Me and Texas. Its main theme is that whites are doomed to insignificance in the face of a massive invasion of blacks and browns and Muslims and other non-white, ciphered groups. Goodbye Beethoven. Hello third-rate folk tunes from third-rate countries. The book is probably being penned by Bill Ayers, Obama’s loyal but retired Weatherman pal, as Dreams From My Father likely was.

My Amnesty program has invited countless brown people to invade Texas and take it over. Once they’re organized they will:

  • Arrest all stinky white folks at and over the age of 65 and send them to the Creamery. That’s my nickname for a crematorium. Creameries will be erected by white indentured labor and located near major cities. The new Texas cannot be expected to support them at the cost of impoverishing black and brown people.
  • White people ages 30 up to 64 will be put on work gangs to build paved roads from the Mexican border to better facilitate the invasion, and employed on other public improvement projects. The goal is to make Texas mostly a black and brown state. Native black and brown people who don’t go along with the program will be incarcerated and “re-educated” to get their minds right about their ethnic heritage. The property and financial assets of all white people living in Texas will be seized and distributed to black and brown people.
  • All Texas Jews will be rounded up and sent to special Creameries.
  • All former and current American Border Patrol personnel caught in the new Texas will be executed by firing squad, using weapons confiscated from them or from the inventory of the Attorney General’s Fast and Furious arsenal, now under the supervision of the Blanco Cartel Polvo, the elite drug cartel.
  • Mexico will be closed to white tourists. White tourists caught in Mexico will be jailed and auctioned off to Mexican drug lords for ransom or slavery.
  • The new Texas government will sponsor and encourage guerilla raids into Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. ISIS ain’t got nothing over what my Free Texas plan has in store.
  • The top Texas cheerleading squads will be drafted to serve in special Recreational camps for the top black and brown leaders of the new Texas. Gals who resist will be put in special jails and paid visits by Mexican, Columbian, and Bolivian guys, you know, the ones with scary tattoos on their faces and heads and chess and butts. All criminal records of these guys will be erased, and they will be indemnified from any future “crimes” against white people they may commit. Idle black and brown criminals will be absorbed into the new workforce as managers of indentured white folks.
  • All institutions of education, from K-1 up through graduate school, will recalibrate their curricula to focus on Mexican, Latino, and Chicano culture and science, wherever the latter may be found.
  • Surviving white people will be compelled to learn Spanish and abjure their American citizenship. Those who resist will be tossed into shark-thick waters near Galveston and on the Gulf Coast.
  • The new Texas government will establish a pact of rapprochement with any and all drug cartels headquartered south of the non-border. The cartels will ship more invaders into Texas, in exchange for the cheerleaders of their choice (we will establish an online photo album), free cars, truckloads of beer and other alcohol and many more expropriated goodies.
  • The new Texas government will establish a pact of rapprochement with our Muslim brothers. Most Muslim invaders and “settlers” are of the black or brown suasion, so that’s not a worry. Muslims will not be required to learn Spanish, but surviving white people will be required to learn how to read and write Arabic or whatever other chicken scratch the “immigrants” and “refugees” bring with them, and required to pay jizya.
  • The Alamo in San Antonio – which will be renamed San Poncho Villa – will be either blown up or converted into a Chicano Heritage Museum and Educational Center.
  • The American flag will not be permitted to be flown or shown anywhere, under any circumstances, unless a Chicano, a Muslim, or a Chihuahua is crapping on it.
  • All movies depicting the “heroic” stand of the white settlers of Mexican territory at the Alamo against the legitimate territorial claims of General Antonio López de Santa Anna  will be banned, even if they’re badly made.
  • All white culture, such as classical music, ballet, and art, will be suppressed, carrying stiff penalties for anyone – including black and brown fools – caught watching or appreciating it.
  • All movie imports from the U.S. or abroad must be redubbed in Spanish or Arabic, depending on the new Texas market the movies are to be shown in.
  • All military bases and installations in Texas will be rechristened with the names of famous Mexican generals, politicians, artists, writers, and bandits.
  • All street names in all cities will be converted to their Spanish equivalents, or renamed entirely. “Jones Street,” for example, will be renamed “Garcia Calle.” All cities or entities that bear the names of the Texan “heroes” who humiliated General Santa Anna will expunge those names and find suitable substitutes of a Latino flavor.
  • There will be no white waltzing in the new Texas or any other kind of wussy white dancing. Surviving white folks will be compelled to learn the danza del sombrero mexicano, as performed by Mexico’s current star Chihuahua, “Pies Ligeros” Gonzales.
  • The Seinfeld episode “The Urban Sombrero” will not be permitted to be shown on television, not even if it is dubbed in Spanish. It treats Mexico’s contribution to human fashion with typically white, culturally imperialistic arrogance, and should not be made light of.
  • Dubbed renditions of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, in which white guys lose, will be permitted, so long as the stereotypical “we ain’t got no badges” scene is excised from the film.
  • Any white person calling black and brown policies censorship will be made to eat our words, literally.
  • All golf courses in Texas will be seized by the new Texas government and renamed after famous Mexican golfers. Did you know that golf was invented by Central African sportsmen 500 years ago, but stolen by those thieving Scotsmen? That’s why I play it so often. It’s the game of my ancestors.

After Obama’s Texas project is well underway, according to the document that was unintentionally sent to me,  plans will be activated to spread these policies to the other states of the Union. The sign-off on the document is: “Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. White lives don’t matter.”

How could anyone dare call Barack Obama a racist?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Can Faith Be “Reformed”?

Long ago, before my teens – I forget my precise age – I experienced a moral epiphany. Looking across the valley from my bedroom window at home I could see the thin finger of the 1,000-foot radio/television broadcasting mast secured to the earth from wind and storm by four even longer guy cables. I loved looking at that tower. I marveled at the skill and tenacity of the men who had erected it.

I did not credit God with its existence.

I was attending a Catholic parochial school at the time. God was everywhere there; in the crucifixes in the classrooms, in the habits of the nuns, and, indeed, the school was located for a time in the basement of the long, black stone edifice of the Nativity Church. At home, God was partially present in a few crucifixes, in the faith of my foster parents and grandparents, and in their strict observance of Catholic holidays, saying grace at supper, and not eating meat on Fridays. Among other things.

In the parish church, God was present in the rituals – in the genuflecting before the altar, in the kneeling and rising during the Stations of the Cross, in Holy Communion, in the sermons, the answering chants of the congregation on cue from a priest saying mass, and in other rituals. Proof of God lay in utterances and actions, not in evidence.

There were the “miracles” to account for. Christ rising from the dead. Our Lady of Fatima, miraculous escapes from fatal accidents, and so on. Moses parting the Red Sea. The Shroud of Turin. And dozens of other apocryphal tales, assertions, or “proofs” of God’s existence. It was all traditional hearsay passed on over centuries and inscribed and embedded in all the Scriptures and documents and literature of the Catholic Church (and in other Christian faiths), and in men’s minds as indelible proof.

But, I asked myself as I looked out the window at the broadcasting mast, did any of that constitute proof of God’s existence other than the assertions of others, whether made by my parents, by the priests, by the nuns, that he existed and was responsible for the existence of the universe and was the supreme warden of my own existence? I knew the mast existed; I didn’t need anyone to tell me that.

No one – not the parish priest who tried to dissuade me from my atheism, not the nuns, not my parents, not all the books on theology I had ever read – could convince me that God existed. All they could produce as evidence was their say-so. People believed in God, or in some form of deity, for millennia before recorded history. So, it must be true.

And, of course, there were the obvious contradictions in doctrine, the most egregious among them in my mind being the one that while God bestowed on men the free will to choose their salvation or their fate, to know the difference between right and wrong, to choose between good and evil, God knew everything and knew what you would do millennia before you were born. He knew a priori whether you would be naughty or nice, and he knew this about everyone who existed now or ever existed, going back thousands of years into the past and into the future. 

That made no sense to me. It smacked of a rigged poker game run by a Supreme Card Sharp. I didn’t think of it in those terms at that age, but you catch the flavor of my predicament. The doubts in my mind then would, over the years, become a deep-rooted contempt for the ruse and pity for anyone who believed in it, fell for it, and accepted it as an iron-clad verity never to be questioned.

I would also eventually realize that God’s attributes of omnipotence and omniscience were mutually contradictory. If he knew everything that was going to happen, did he also know that he would change his mind and not make things happen? Could he undo actions he had taken in the past?  Did he schedule his changes in mind and stick to the schedule – “I’ll spare Indonesia of earthquakes in 2004 and the resulting tsunami that will surely take thousands of lives….Well, maybe not….” – or was he the plaything of his own unpredictable whims, which certainly wouldn’t classify him as omniscient.

Everything about God and religion – regardless of the creed or the attributes of a particular God – rested on faith, on the acceptance of the existence of a being or deity without evidence, of a being who existed and to whom one was answerable. My lifelong approach to the assertion was: Show me the money.

No one was ever able to show me the money. The pockets and wallets of the popes, clergy, preachers of every known faith, the nuns, and my parents, were empty.  If God granted me the capacity to judge things and men by instilling in me a reliance on the evidence of my senses, why did he then say that the evidence of my senses wasn’t good enough to believe in his existence? That the evidence of my senses should not come into play when considering his existence? That my “God-given” reason wasn’t applicable to this question? And that reason was impotent to grasp his existence? One just had to accept him on faith, and never question his actions, even if they were brutal and sadistic and utterly whimsical.

One had to have faith, and to have faith in the power of faith.

And what is faith? Wikipedia gets it right for once, cadging from the Unabridged Random House Dictionary. Its definition differs little from other dictionary definitions of faith.

Faith is defined as belief, confidence or trust in a person, object, religion, idea or view despite the absence of proof. Faith does not involve the abandonment of reason, but acknowledges more or less consciously the fact that a proof is not possible in a given context. 

The preceding is in the way of an overture to a critique of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s lucid and comprehensive March 20th Wall Street Journal article, “Why Islam Needs a Reformation.”

My answer to that would be: A “reformation” of Islam would entail not only the excision from the Koran and other Islamic documents of all the violent verses and imperatives that justify murderous jihad, but necessarily  require a repudiation of faith as such, as well, regardless of character of the faith.

The Reformation of the Christian Church was largely the banishment of religion from politics. It took centuries to accomplish with religious wars and brutal persecutions of one Christian sect by another. It took time for men to realize that the imposition of one set of religious tenets on others could result in little else but strife and bloodshed, and if any kind of stable civil society was to be created and sustained, religion would have to surrender its power of political force. It was not a universal repudiation of Christian faith, but a boxing in and establishing of boundaries it could not cross. Faith itself remained untouched.

Aiding in the “taming” of the Christian faith were the fire-and-brimstone Old Testament with its vengeful and bloody-minded Jehovah, and the largely pacific New Testament of Christ. Christianity opted to adhere to the ethics of the New Testament. It made possible stable, civil societies not rived by religious wars.

However, there is no Old Koran and no New Koran. Islam is of one piece. There are divisions between various sects of Islam – e.g., the Sunnis vs. the Shi’ites – over doctrinal differences, but there are no multiple fundamental interpretations of Islam, no sea changes as one turns the page on how to practice the faith or how to view Allah and Mohammed. If Mohammed said that’s what Allah demands, that’s it. Kill the Jews hiding behind trees. Let your right hand possess any woman that strikes your fancy. Tax the Christians and Jews or kill them if they don’t convert.  Invade the lands of the infidels and pagans and establish iron rule.

Hirsi Ali divides believers in Islam into two distinct camps:  believers in the Meccan “peaceful” Koranic verses that were superseded by the “violent” ones that came out of Medina, but the rule according to mullahs and imams is that the new verses overrule the older ones. Watch this nonpareil video about the Koranic verses.

Hirsi Ali writes:

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts. It simply will not do for Muslims to claim [as do Western apologists] that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct. (Brackets mine)

Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

Hirsi Ali names in her Wall Street Journal article the five elements in Islam that must go, that must be stripped of their belligerent potency, the elements responsible for the interminable mayhem and the War on the West Islam declared centuries ago These must be banned or shredded before Islam can become “pacified” as Christianity and Judaism have been. Square bracketed comments are mine.

1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran. Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a pre-modern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century.

[This is contingent on whether or not Mohammad actually existed. See Robert Spencer’s exceptionally informative and educational book, Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins.] Once you’ve read this work, you can’t help but doubt that the whole story of Mohammad has been a gross, cruel, and tragic farrago.]

And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

[There are several books and Websites that discuss the fact that the Koran was the work of many scribes and Islamic theologians centuries after Mohammad’s death. Here is one of the more exhaustive ones, at Myth No. 1.  The Koran that excites ISIS and Al Qaeda and that has come to harass us today is the result of fourteen centuries of editorial emendations.]

2. The supremacy of life after death. 

The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

[Of course, “martyrdom” in this context does not mean dying alone of a self-inflicted wound in order to get to Paradise sooner, or taking actions that would not also take the lives of others because they were Jews or infidels. It means specifically jihad, or waging war against the Jews and infidels, and taking their lives as well as one’s own, or perishing somehow in the “struggle” against Dar al-Harb, or the ”Muslim enemy land.” This could entail using suicide vests, driving bombs into buildings or crowds, or flying hijacked planes into buildings.]

3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.

Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

[Unfortunately, according to Mohammad, Allah says all man-made law is filth. That’s a non-negotiable “truth” in Islam. Sharia Law is a primitive, non-conceptual, anti-intellectual code of law, “justice,” and correct behavior which should not be accorded recognition or respect by the West. It is probably more primitive than that of the Xatanawa in Brazil. It is a tribalist, patriarchal code that favors men over women and children and is in direct conflict with Western principles of individual liberty and freedom. Just because there are compendia of Shariah law doesn’t make it any more valid. They may as well be several bushels of Confederate currency. Further, Muslim advocacy groups in the West have been waging a “stealth jihad” campaign to impose Shariah on non-Muslims, as well.]

4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.

There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

[This also means outlawing the “honor killing” of men and women who leave Islam or who choose non-Islamic, Western values, murdering Muslims who develop personal relationships with non-Muslims, corralling and prosecuting Muslim rape gangs that prey on non-Muslim women and girls in the West, and demanding that employers provide Muslim employees with the means to practice their religion on the job. By “religious police and vigilantes,” Hirsi Ali means the phenomena of gangs of Muslims “patrolling” neighborhoods in Western cities to prevent drinking, smoking, or the wearing of non-halal clothing (such as miniskirts or other revealing or provocative apparel). Further, it means that Islamic clerics could not decree death fatāwā on any individuals deemed in violation or transgression of Shariah law.]

5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.

Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

Good luck with that. There are thousands of Muslims who love wielding the sword.

Hirsi Ali adds:

Any serious discussion of Islam must begin with its core creed, which is based on the Quran (the words said to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad) and the hadith (the accompanying works that detail Muhammad’s life and words). Despite some sectarian differences, this creed unites all Muslims. All, without exception, know by heart these words: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His messenger.” This is the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.

The Shahada might seem to be a declaration of belief no different from any other. But the reality is that the Shahada is both a religious and a political symbol. (Italics mine)

But, then, what would be left of Islam that would still be Islam? I’ve said this many times before on this subject: Nothing that could be called Islam. It would be closer to the religious beliefs of the Amish.

The nihilistic nature of Islam – its worship of death and treatment of life as a mere transient state that precedes an eternal “life” in a “Paradise” where all inhibitions and taboos are lifted – inculcates in those born in Islam something akin to what In classical Freudian psychoanalytic analysis is the death drive or the drive towards death, self-destruction and the return to the “inorganic.” Or in a Muslim’s case, temporal nonexistence in exchange for some ethereal existence in a dreamed-of pleasure palace in the heavens…somewhere. Most Muslims, as Hirsi Ali notes, don’t work consciously to bring about their or others’ deaths, but are passive participants in what can only be regarded as a death cult.

As for the numerous Western converts to Islam, there must be something of the predatory zombie already in their character makeup that draws them to Islam. .

Islamic reformers, however, are not going to stop having faith in the truth of what they believe in, even should they brave death fatāwā declared on them by imams and mullahs and by rogue “states” like ISIS, and successfully emasculate Islam and convince all Muslims to follow suit.

Faith is the problem that weighs down the reformation of any religion and its diminution as a moral force governing the affairs and relationships of men. It is the anti-mind and anti-reason power and pull of faith that can account for the incalculable misery, deaths, and destruction in human history. Faith is addictive; it has pull and appeal because it doesn’t require proofs; one can just believe in the unproven and not be bothered with grasping or formulating a reason-based morality by which to live on earth and not in some fantasy realm.

Hirsi Ali ends her article with:

Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe.” At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.

For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.

Hirsi Ali grants Islam a modicum of respect, as a system that contains the germ of reformation into a benign, non-aggressive mode of living.  For all that she had endured in her life as a Muslim and as an ex-Muslim, she certainly shouldn’t respect it. I don’t respect it. From my first readings about Islam, I recognized it as totalitarian in means and ends, whether or not most Muslims are “peaceful and law-abiding” and not driven to slaughtering people in Mohammad’s or Allah’s name. Like Christians and Jews, they have simply compartmentalized either the requirements of living in the modern world, or the creed itself.

There is nothing redeemable in Islam, nothing salvageable, nothing worth reclaiming from those who allegedly “hijacked” Islam.   

Only a philosophical revolution will disestablish faith as a mode of living and “reform” it into the dustbin of history.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Goldeneye, Where Bond was Born

“Nothing propinks like propinquity.”

So remarked Felix Leiter to James Bond in Ian Fleming’s fourth Bond novel, Diamonds are Forever. It was propinquitous that someone at Pegasus Books thought that I’d reviewed another of Fleming’s books, For Your Eyes Only, a collection of five of Fleming’s short stories featuring Bond, and queried me about reviewing Matthew Parker’s newly released Goldeneye, Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica. I hadn’t reviewed Eyes Only anywhere, but asked Pegasus to send Mr. Parker’s book on anyway.  

I very rarely review biographies because the best-written ones I could not do justice to, whether or not they are worth recommending (or deep-sixing). Goldeneye is an exception, for it is about Fleming and one of my favorite thriller heroes, James Bond. I have read over a score of biographies of Fleming and dozens of books about Bond alone. Most of these are forgettable in that they are either bland or slyly critical of Fleming and dismissive of Bond or blatantly exploitive of Fleming’s cash value. I won't name names here.

But Parker’s book is a balanced melding of the biographies of Fleming, Bond and Jamaica. He weaves such an indelible and integrated portrait of all three that one can almost feel the heat of Jamaica and move through Fleming’s retreat from the world, Goldeneye, which he had built, and become one of his guests there. Parker has painted a compelling, colorful landscape that includes all three subjects.

This includes Fleming’s apparently insatiable appetite for women, married or not. But even when he was married, he did not believe monogamy was healthy for any marriage. Neither did his wife.

My passion for the Bond novels (not for the movies) is such that for years I spent not an inconsiderable amount of money on collecting a set of first editions of the Bond novels and short story collections published by Jonathan Cape. I have that complete set and early editions of his other fiction and nonfiction, such as The Diamond Smugglers, Thrilling Cities, and an illustrated children’s novel, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

As for the Bond movies, allow me to speak a heresy here: It has always been my opinion that the superb actor Patrick McGoohan (of Danger Man and The Prisoner fame) would have made a far better (and brainier) Bond than Sean Connery. He was offered the role, but turned it down because he thought the action in Dr. No, the first Bond film, was too violent and full of sex.

This is not to score Connery, a fine actor. But fine actors too often are not the best judges of the material they are asked to bring to life. The producers of Dr. No and subsequent Bond films, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, started a trend that would see the diminishing of the hero to a parodied, tongue-in-cheek joke in all the subsequent Bond films, including those based on all the bogus Bond novels written by others after Fleming’s death in 1964. I never cared for any of the Bonds that followed Connery’s, either.

I wrote a review of the fourth of these bogus Bond novels, License Renewed, for the Wall Street Journal in June, 1981. I was not aware then that there had been three previous pastiches. My literary philosophy concerning the cannibalization of another author’s works compelled me to excoriate the plot and more or less tell such opportunistic hacks to write their own damned novels, to conceive of their own ideas and not “borrow” others’ works.  

It’s a literary crime tantamount to having the brass to write a sequel to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (although the estate of Rand would come down like a ton of bricks on the heads of the author and publisher who tried). Numerous other successful authors, such as Raymond Chandler, have had their work “continued” by such writers. I have no use for them or their bogus books, and neither should anyone else who values originality in literature. Someone might ask: But how would Fleming’s James Bond remain current, relative, and in the public mind except to hire second-handers to write what Fleming never wrote?

Does durable fiction or art of any kind need second-hand hacks to perpetuate the durable? I don’t think so.

But, back to Matthew Parker’s Goldeneye. Parker’s easy prose draws one into the private and public life of Fleming as he discovers the charms of Jamaica. It would not be for years until he decided to try his hand at novels and created James Bond, a name he cadged from an ornithologist whose book he liked. The book is interspersed with chapters on the history of Jamaica as an outpost of the British Empire and a refuge for expatriates seeking to escape the constricting confines of British culture and society, to its rise as an independent country within the Commonwealth. When Fleming first visited Jamaica in the 1940s it was still the retreat of millionaires and eccentrics and retained the character and milieu of the old but vanishing Empire. By the time Fleming died in 1964, it had been “ruined” and dragged into a fast-moving world kicking and screaming. Well, at least it was the British social elite that kicked and screamed.

By 1955 it was a changed environment. Fleming and others, such as another eccentric, playwright and multi-talented Noël Coward, who built his own house and became a close friend of Fleming’s, bemoaned the political and social changes, but rolled with the punches. Jamaica was being “discovered” by hoteliers of every imaginable stripe. Racecourses disappeared and private beaches became public. Bridal paths became golf courses, and exclusive clubs and hangouts of the white elite were open to one and all.

But all this was to serve as the genesis of James Bond. Dr. No, a Bond novel that was written Fleming at Goldeneye. That novel is all about Jamaica itself, writes Parker.

The “repackaging” of the Bond character, in the written word as well as in the cinematic venue, continues unabated, and, frankly, gets worse and worse. I never much cared for any of the Connery depictions of Bond, except in Dr. No, but I was not enthralled by the senseless denouement in the 1962 film, in which the arch villain Dr. No is boiled alive in a tub of radioactive water instead of being smothered in a mound of guano dust. What was so difficult about shooting that scene? But, we had to have our gimmicks and toys and hokey technology.

The balance of the movies actually based on the novels that Fleming wrote were just “kinda-sorta” based on Fleming’s plots. The only memorable things for me about the films are most of the scores. After that, publishers and hack writers took Bond on rides Fleming never intended Bond to experience.

The cover art of the Thomas & Mercer editions of Fleming novels, including the bogus ones, look as though they’ve been designed by a computer, while the Penguin/Jonathan Cape Books covers are either intriguingly symbolic or feature lovingly drawn, come-hither, gorgeous women imagined by a human with a decided fondness for the female body. See this chronology of the Bond novels here, vs. here and here, and judge for yourself.

There is a sour note concerning Fleming’s estimate of his own work. Or perhaps it’s Parker’s estimate. We have only Parker’s assertion about what Fleming thought of his own work. Parker contends that Fleming didn’t take James Bond seriously.  Discussing Live and Let Die, Parker writes:

The story is framed by the Cold War and contains a nod to modern Jamaica with the mention of the strategic importance of bauxite. But with its lost pirate treasure, sharks and killer centipedes and black magic, it is really an old-fashioned Boy’s Own adventure story. One American reviewer would call it a ‘lurid meller contrived by mixing equal parts of Oppenheim and Spillane.’ Fleming concedes this with his soon-to-be customary knowing looks to the reader: Bond describes his mission as an ‘adventure’; one villain looks ‘like the bad man in a film about poker-players and gold mines’; Bond’s Jamaica colleague Strangways, on hearing that the heroine needs rescuing, exclaims, ‘Sort of damsel in distress Good show!’ (pp. 153-4) (There are no numbered endnotes, so I was not able to identify the cretin whom Parker is quoting, only that he took the quotation from “LLD 239” and “LLD 278.” The London Literary Digest?)

And, again on p. 184, discussing the reception of Diamonds are Forever,  Parker asserts that Fleming gave his readers the “knowing looks.”

There are some excellent set pieces in Diamonds are Forever – the drive-in, the mud-baths, the racetrack at Saratoga (where Bond appreciates ‘the extra touch of the negroes’), but the story misses the crazy central megalomania of the villains of the previous two books. The ‘knowing looks’ to the reader – ‘He had been a stage-gangster, surrounded by stage properties’; ‘Mike Hammer routine. These American gangsters were too obvious’; ‘That was quite an exit. Like something out of an old Buster Keaton film’ – feel more tired than arch. ‘For Bond it was just the end of another adventure,’ Fleming concludes, his weariness palpable. (p. 184) (These are cited in “DF,” whatever that stands for. There is no legend that identifies the various literary publications Parker quotes from. Otherwise, I would name that culprit, as well.)

I didn’t sense that “knowing look” in any of the Bond novels. I take Spillane as seriously as I have Bond. That will never change.

It is unfortunate that Parker spoiled his book by making these unsubstantiated assertions.

All in all, however, Goldeneye is a delight to read and educational, to boot, an contains information about Fleming and his work regime not otherwise available in other books about Fleming and his craft

I  recommend Parker’s Goldeneye, not highly, but with the cited reservations.

Goldeneye, Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica, by Matthew Parker. New York: Pegasus Books. 388 pp.