“In September 2001, real life abruptly and completely flipped into full Bond mode. A wealthy freelancing supervillain in a secret underground lair, four hijacked American jetliners, the Pentagon struck, iconic 110-story Manhattan skyscrapers vaporized — this was precisely the kind of absurd, baroque scheme that Commander Bond trotted the globe trying to prevent. Since then, half our politics and news have concerned fiendish, nihilistic masterminds in their hideouts, charismatic and stateless psychopaths who dream of committing spectacular mass murder for its own spectacular sake, with the battle against them fought by daring, steadfast agents of MI6 and CIA and special ops equipped with fantastic gadgets and licenses to kill.”
“Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn badly wanted to be revolutionary celebrities, household names, but they never were, not really, in their prime. Even after their nth bombing, the nightly news still had to identify them as ‘a radical group calling itself the Weather Underground.’ Bill Ayers finally became famous when he was a harmless sixty-three-year-old professor, because now out proliferating electronic media are free to focus on the irrelevant, obliged to fill air time and keep viewers and listeners riled by any means necessary. We’ve given the bad guys — a radical group calling itself al Qaeda — an unprecedented opportunity to scare us silly.”
And there’s not much to add; only, that it’s easy enough to enjoy this stuff, and it’s light and amusing, but it’s also grafted on to a story and a character in a way that’s more interested in the talk than the character, which makes True Believers about two-thirds novel and about one-third essay.
September 21, 2012, 10:59am Comments