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Being Bond is good for you

The Chronicle Review has an entertaining article on why most men would like to be like James Bond:
James Bond as Archetype (and Incredibly Cool Dude) – The author, Michael Dirda, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of the memoir An Open Book (W.W. Norton, 2003), for example.

In a nice allusion to a famous novel, Dirda states:

It is a truth universally, if seldom publicly, acknowledged that virtually every American male, from puberty onward, would love to be 007. He’s got the best toys, attracts gorgeous women, and wins at every game, be it golf, baccarat, or — in Devil May Care — tennis. Such (arguably) shallow benefits might be sufficient to explain part of Bond’s appeal.

The “even more primordial” aspect of the character is defined in the words of Joseph Campbell: “men long to be heroes”. And in addition to that:

At least some of the time, guys want to be thought of as … dangerous. While it’s gratifying to be called a hard-working professional or a good provider, those admirable traits don’t make our hearts beat quicker. By contrast, to overhear oneself described as “a man not to be trifled with” — that’s quite another matter.

And yet, there is something else that fascinates the Bond fan in all of us: it’s his style:

The first words we think of when we describe James Bond — at least the 007 of the films — are suave, debonair, cosmopolitan. All those are shorthand for Bond’s supreme personal characteristic, what Renaissance courtiers always aspired to exemplify: sprezzatura. That is the ability to perform even the most difficult task with flair, grace, and nonchalance, without getting a wrinkle in your clothes or working up a sweat.

In a clever interpretation of the French term, Dirda calls Bond “a connoisseur in the largest sense: He is one who knows. The omnicompetent 007 can handle himself with utter confidence in a casino or on a golf course, at a shooting range or on a ski slope. He can drive a tank or fly an airplane or bet all his chips on the turn of a card and win.”
And his review ends with the following conclusion: “Bond has become as archetypal as Hamlet or Sherlock Holmes, a hero with a thousand faces — and among them are yours and mine.”

(thanks to Monika on the enpaed mailing list)

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