As the world's publics flock to cinemas for the vicarious joy of watching a grown, renewable man kill unrenewable, other grown men - the appalling Quantum of Solace - I have just finished reading a most fascinating esoteric book about James Bond and his creator Ian Fleming.
Philip Gardiner's The Bond Code - The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond argues persuasively that Bond is a creature of ancient myth and modern psychological theory. He likens Bond to fairytale heroes such as King Arthur and Robin Hood (the dragon-slayers) who all must "unite with the feminine principle" (in the case of 007, the Bond Girl) to kill villains who represent the dark side of Bond's own soul. This marriage of male and female Gardiner calls an "alchemical conjunction", essential for spiritual salvation.
Fleming was very much a student and disciple of Carl Jung whose explorations of the psyche were inclusive of presently-termed mumbo-jumbo topics such as astrology, dream analysis, the occult, alchemy. Gardiner thinks that the Bond tales are a representation of psychological and spiritual light and darkness. Occult references are to be found in Bond stories: the Tudor astrologer and mathematician John Dee signed his letters as "007" (apparently a sacred code and of course Bond's number) and Elizabeth I signed her letters to Dee as "M" (Judi Dench must see a dentist, btw).
Gardiner describes the spiritual references in Fleming's penultimate book You Only Live Twice. For example, Bond thinks his life is coming to an end because his wife has been murdered: he is assigned a new number by the duller suits: 7777. Apparently in Eastern numerology this translates as "It is done".
To quote the blurb: "There are numerous references throughout the books to Gnostic, mystic and alchemist symbols. Even character names are often clues to Fleming's secrets. Auric Goldfinger, for example, is an alchemical term. Auric means gold and the golden finger indicates the alchemist himself, who turns lead into gold. Hugo (mind, spirit, or heart) Drax (dragon or winged serpent) means the mind of the serpent - in alchemy, the serpent is the symbol of regeneration and wisdom, but also of negative energy. "
Perhaps Bond's global appeal has less to do with Roger Moore's arched eyebrow or Daniel Craig's resemblance to a freshly fallen conker than with some inner, subliminal recognition of timeless energies at work within us. As I say to all atheists and secularists, whatever their education or hair colour, "Now, now, stop sulking cos God withheld the sweets. Go lie down in a dark place and dream."
Do read Gardiner's book. Here, buy. (It's not something you'll read about in our Church of Atheism propagandist mainstream media - oh, hello, Roger Alton. Sorry to hear the Indy's circulation is in freefall. The price, alas, of copycat editing/hiring/thinking etc)