This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes guest columnist Dr. Benjamin Pratt, a literary expert on Ian Fleming’s James Bond. On Monday, Dr. Pratt explained Fleming’s fascination with personifying 7 Deadlier Sins in his novels. On Tuesday, he explored Fleming’s first two “Deadlier” sins: Hypocrisy and Self-Righteousness. On Wednesday, he focused on Fleming’s take on Violence. On Thursday, the themes were Avarice and Snobbery.
Today, Dr. Pratt’s series draws to a close.
In my book, where I have more than 150 pages, I go into depth about all of Fleming’s deadlier sins—and all of the James Bond novels. In this OurValues series, I am closing this fifth column by listing the final two sins Fleming explores: Accide and Moral Cowardice. You will find Fleming’s parables of Moral Cowardice, especailly in Casino Royale, For Your Eyes Only and From Russia with Love.
Today, I want to explain the more unusual term: Accide. You’ll find parables of Accidie in Live and Let Die, Dr. No and You Only Live Twice.
But the dangerous concept of Accidie actually is captured in Bond’s most famous line: his martini order of “shaken, not stirred.” That phrase has surprisingly deeper meaning than its obvious reference to mixing a drink. Accidie occurs when your life is deeply shaken but you are no longer stirred to fight for the right and good in life. Accidie is the heart of the dragon without passion, spirit or vitality; it is consumed by sloth. Its blood is cool, fostering indifference, carelessness, boredom and cynicism about life and God. Fleming’s most evil characters—Dr. No, Blofeld and Mr. Big—all confess accidie in the novels.
In Live and Let Die, Bond encounters the exotic figure of Mr. Big, a Prince of Darkness who finances Soviet espionage in the Caribbean. At one point, this evil powerbroker captures Bond and actually confesses to 007 that he is “prey to what the early Christians called accidie.” He has fallen into this spiritual lethargy not becaue he has been defeated, Mr. Big declares, but because he has been supremely successful in his evil craft. Find this chilling scene in the original novel and you won’t soon forget it.
When we are in the grip of accidie and have lost energy and passion for life, we are more prone to moral cowardice, the soul of the evil dragon. Moral cowardice chooses personal gain, pleasure or power above the well being of the whole. Accidie leaves us without feeling and, like Mr. Big, we may be tempted even further to malice and cruelty. Accidie is the deadliest of all the sins, Fleming argues.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ACCIDIE TODAY?
THE MOVIES ARE QUITE DIFFERENT THAN THE NOVELS …
COULD SIMILAR ARGUMENTS BE MADE ABOUT THE MOVIES?
DO YOU WANT TO SEE MORE JAMES BOND THIS FALL?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.