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Happenstance with James Bond and Hemingway

On the trail of 007 in South Florida

By Ian Dunross
October 15, 2017

Part 2: From a Theme to a Kill: Impermanence in Goldfinger
Works Cited

For clarity, James Bond book titles are displayed in small caps (Casino Royale), and short stories are shown in quotes and capitalized accordingly (“For Your Eyes Only”). The Bond film titles, on the other hand, are italicized and shown with the capitalization used by the filmmakers (For Your Eyes Only). Quoted passages contain the styles used in the original source.


Part 2: From A Theme to a Kill: Impermanence in Goldfinger

A brief stop at the Fontainebleau


12/26/15. Boxing Day. For the Anonymous Gang, it meant a day at Bal Harbour to glimpse this internationally renowned shopping destination, a stomping ground for socialites, fashionistas, celebrities, and any card-carrying member of the global elites. I heartily agreed: the luxury mall, on Collins Avenue, was just scant miles from the Fontainebleau Hotel, the first stop on my mission. Once again, my companions were puzzled when I steered the rental car into the parking lot of the hotel.

“Just a quick look,” I said. “Goldfinger. Sean Connery. Remember?”

They would have none of it. But at least Kristen sided with me, who was curious about this Goldfinger affair. The Anonymous Gang left the two of us in the parking lot and continued the drive to Bal Harbour. High above, a plane soared against the morning sky, pulling a banner. No, not the “Welcome to Miami” banner as in the film, but an advertisement for the European Wax Center (“Complimentary First Wax!”). As I watched the plane, I replayed director Guy Hamilton’s aerial shots of the Miami skyline in the windmills of my mind.

“So who’s this Goldfinger dude?” Kristen asked. “Is he a relative?”

“No, he’s a make-believe character,” I said, still watching the plane.

“Oh, great, so we’re looking for a guy who doesn’t exist.”

As I watched the plane, I remembered John Barry’s opening piece “Into Miami” from the Goldfinger score.

Kristen tapped my arm. “Wake up! Can we go inside?”


The hotel’s renovation in 2008 resulted in two buildings with twelve bars and restaurants and a nightclub. Of course, opulence is the essence of the place. The lobby underscores the hotel’s semi-kitschy glory, emphasizing a bow tie floor pattern, striated columns, exquisite chandeliers. But the most striking thing to me was the low-key remnants of Goldfinger. There were black-and-white photos of the film in the lobby; otherwise, it would be virtually certain that most guests wouldn’t know the hotel’s place in Bond lore unless one remembers the association with the Connery film.2

“We need to see the pool area,” I said to my niece.

“Yeah, right,” she said. “The Goldfinger dude, who doesn’t exist, is catching some sun by the pool.”

I was about to describe the scene in the film but, from behind, somebody spoke with a cheerful British accent. “Good morning!” he said, shaking my hand. “Nigel, Willoughby—the concierge, at your service.” He had an uncanny resemblance, or I imagined him to have an uncanny resemblance, to a certain Major Boothroyd.

Kristen smiled. “My uncle is looking for Goldfinger.”

“Goldfinger, Goldfinger,” he muttered, looking perplexed. “I don’t know a guest by that name.”

“No, we’re looking for the pool area,” I explained. “The film Goldfinger has a scene of the pool area.”

The man who would be Major Boothroyd smiled and pointed at the photos we had just seen. “Oh, the film. Guests rarely ask about it.” He started to describe the architecture of the lobby when I asked for the directions to the pool.

“Let me pull up the map,” he said and began tapping his tablet.

“Map? Is it that complicated?” I asked. “You’re joking.”

“I never joke about my work. Now do pay attention.” He displayed the map of the hotel on his tablet, pointing out the corridors to follow.


After getting a day pass for the pool, Kristen and I spent about two hours roaming the hotel. Sad to say, the skating rink, which Felix Leiter passes on route to the pool, is no more. The pool area also looked entirely different from the one in the film. But, once again, opulence abounds: there were 10 pools, all within close proximity of one another, most of which were shallow enough to stand in and sip cocktails. Rows of lounge chairs and furnished cabanas with flat-screen TVs and wi-fi connection (available, of course, for an additional charge) bedecked the massive oceanfront patio. The place was already crowded. But I didn’t see guests playing cards near the pool, as in the film.

Kristen and I sat at a table underneath an umbrella. I looked up at the hotel, imagining Goldfinger’s suite (in the film) and the balcony where Jill Masterson,3 in a scanty black bikini, spies on Auric’s opponent, Mr. Simmons, during a devious gin rummy game.4 It’s a bit incredible, as the Bond lore goes, that Connery and Gert Frobe never filmed any scenes in Miami. The London premiere occurred on September 17, 1964, eight months after director Guy Hamilton and a small crew shot aerial footage of the hotel on January 15. Five days later, Hamilton filmed brief “insert” shots of Cec Linder and Austin Wills (as Felix Leiter and Simmons, respectively). The scenes with Connery and Frobe were completed in London’s Pinewood Studios in April. In true Bondian grandeur, production designer Ken Adam built a replica of the Fontainebleau, and Hamilton used intricate lighting “to duplicate the intensity of the Florida sun” (Rubin 44).

A waiter with a pencil mustache broke my reverie when he appeared and showed us the drink menu. The prices were reasonable enough, so long as I remembered to take out a second mortgage to cover the bill for Kristen’s milkshake and my vodka martini. But, at that moment, as I stared at the menu, I was in full vacation mentality—immersed in a carefree lifestyle, I suddenly felt I had all the time in world, and the biggest problem of the day was deciding on where to have dinner.

The waiter, a “Mr. Juan” (as he called himself), mentioned sightings of one of the Kardashians just a few days ago in the lobby.

“What about Goldfinger?” I asked. “Any special plaque for the skating rink, somewhere in the hotel?”

Mr. Juan stared at me for a few seconds. “Skating? No, no skating. Skateboarding not allowed in hotel.”

“I’m talking about a movie,” I explained. “The skating rink was in Goldfinger. They shot some scenes here a long time ago.”

“Oh, you like old movies? Go look, the photos…the Jerry Lewis and other guy.”

“You mean, Dean Martin?” I asked.

Mr. Juan laughed. “Yes, yes! Those guys from old days. My grandmother said they make funny movies.”

Even better, he explained, is that the big stars of today often stay at the Fontainebleau. He gushed about a visit by one of the Disney millennials, Zendaya somebody, just weeks earlier. “I have seen her—she was here! So awesome!”

I’d say this Mr. Juan was in his twenties. Suddenly, I realized that Goldfinger, a 50 something year-old film, was nothing more than an artifact from a bygone era. Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Richard Maibaum, and John Barry were long gone. They were shadows now, looming over the bits of Bond lore that remained in this hotel.5 Curiously, it’s the iconography of the long-dead Rat Pack, as Mr. Juan alluded to, that lingered as the Fontainebleau’s most celebrity-oriented glitz. Even Solo, the on-premise coffee shop, was adorned with black-and-white stills of Sinatra at the Fontainebleau.


Kristen leaned back in her chair. “So, what’s so cool about this Goldfinger movie?”

The classic images flashed through my mind—the Aston Martin, the gold-painted girl, Oddjob’s bowler hat, and so forth. “When I first saw the film, I was startled by this image of a girl. She was dead, painted gold.”

Kristen chuckled. “A girl, painted gold? Really? That’s creepy.”

As I stared at the glass of vodka martini, the dead golden girl reminded me of the literary Bond and his meditation on the thug he had killed in Mexico. Bond’s recollection is also creepy, considering the grim description of how he broke the man’s neck. Even more ghastly is Bond imagining how the life had gone out of the body “so quickly, so utterly, that Bond had almost seen it come out of [the man’s] mouth as it does, in the shape of a bird, in Haitian primitives.” In this violent but fleeting moment, life was ushered away by death. It’s this brevity—and not so much the death of the person—that haunts Bond. “What an extraordinary difference there was,” he realizes, “between a body full of person and a body that was empty! Now there is someone, now there is no more” (4). He stares at his bruised right hand—the weapon that had killed the man, the catalyst that brought about the difference between a living person and an empty body in the space of a few moments. In the transient nature of things, any event can change an entire experience.

Which takes us to the novel’s flashes of meditations on death, a peculiar quality that compensates for the lack of suspense and breakneck pace in its narrative.


Death in Miami

As always in the Fleming tales, Bond is prone to moody introspection: immersed in a violent profession, he’s oriented to mortality, to impermanence, which thrusts him to confront the hard truth that there is no human certainty. It’s a shot of reality that leaves him in anguish—the mood of something disturbing, something gnawing within, a distress that, as I’ve always sensed in Fleming’s characterization, compels Bond to seek refuge from the terrifying present. Hence, the hard drinking, the hard smoking, the hard gambling, even the longing to escape from his profession, such as his intention to resign near the end of Casino Royale and at the start of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. As a variation, in Goldfinger he accepts the offer from Junius Du Pont, an American real estate tycoon, to stay a while longer in Miami to soak up “a slice of the easy life” (15). This is the culmination of his quiet drink at the airport: a blunder, apparently nothing more than mere chance, arises when somebody from his past recognizes him and serves as the impetus for the adventure with Auric Goldfinger.

I cannot blame Bond for this evasion from his nasty job. This longing to be otherwise, to be elsewhere in a safe haven—well, we’re all caught up in this movement. Our retreat is the reluctance to face the uncertainty and the anguish it brings. We feel secure, surrounded by what’s familiar, by what we like, and shielded from what we dislike. For some of us, a judicious consumption of spirits is quite handy in this escape. In Bond’s case, the chance meeting with the Du Pont chap at the airport enables him to consume another round of bourbon, which leads to two rounds of vodka martini and two pints of champagne (the Pommery ’50) at dinner. It’s an approach that works well enough—until the anguish surfaces again. In this ephemeral world, anything of course can happen. Even for a measly life such as mine, whatever that could end it lurks just ahead. I board a plane for vacation, climb a ladder to replace a bulb, or cross the street—my life is at risk. Nothing can warn me about the distraction of the driver in the approaching car, or the bomb blast in a crowded restaurant, or the landing spot of a lethal virus. Life is contingent, unfolding in a torrent of uncertain moments. This is essentially Fleming’s thesis in Goldfinger.

Chapter 1 of Goldfinger

So it’s not surprising that the novel begins in an airport, a place of transience—the midpoint between that time and the future time that a traveler will move toward during the flight. The airport underscores the sense of transition, of being between worlds, between experiences. And, at the very center of the novel, the main conflict—the clash between Bond and Goldfinger—hinges on the transitory nature of coincidence:

“And here was Bond, launched against this man by a plane breaking down on the other side of the world. Bond smiled grimly to himself. How often in his profession had it been the same—the tiny acorn of coincidence that soars into the mighty oak whose branches darkened the sky. And now, once again, he was setting out to bring the dreadful growth down.” (72)

The remarkable thing about the opening scenes of the novel is how death and impermanence are carefully woven into the action. At the airport, we sense Bond’s self-disgust for killing the thug in Mexico but he attempts to justify the murder by noting that a great number of human actions, in every moment, are causing deaths in the here-and-now:

Anyway, people were killing other people all the time, all over the world. People were using their motor cars to kill with. They were carrying infectious diseases around, blowing microbes in other people’s faces. . . . How many people, for instance, were involved in manufacturing H-bombs, from the miners who mined the uranium to the shareholders who owned the mining shares? Was there any person in the world who wasn’t somehow, perhaps only statistically, involved in killing his neighbour?(9)

In other words, all actions cause the death of everything else. It smacks of Buddhism’s Doctrine of Conditional Arising, which declares that, ultimately, everything affects everything else because all actions are interconnected, springing forth from one another. What is happening now is part of what happened before and is part of what will happen next. In matters of conflict, enemies mutually arise, for example, but they are two parts of the one thing. Every action in every moment is bound to conditional arising. A Buddhist would look upon this phenomenon with a deep sense of connection and responsibility with all of life. For Bond, it’s a way to ease the self-disgust from killing a person.

He takes the idea to another level as he questions the milling crowd watching the DC 7 “hurtling down the main green lane.” Bond wonders if they are hoping for a crash, all for the sake of having “something to watch, something to talk about, something to fill their empty lives?” The contingency of the plane is just outside the windows of the transit lounge. It can crash—or not. But for Bond, it’s a question of how the world takes in that contingency to fill the drabness of daily life:

Bond tried to read their expressions. . . . Which way,” he wonders, “were [the people] willing the sixty passengers? To live or to die?” (9)

We’re all involved in death, Bond seems to say—even the masses who will death, or some kind of misfortune, on others. Life is so bad, so sorrowful, that one relishes when others are in worse situations than oneself. Someone such as a Schopenhauer, not exactly the most vibrant cheerful chap ever to live, would savor Bond’s outlook. Here’s a line from his collection of aphorisms that reinforces what Fleming is asserting in this scene:

The most effective consolation in every affliction is to observe others who are more unfortunate than we: and everyone can do this. . . . In just the same way the life of the individual is a constant struggle, and not merely a metaphorical one against want or boredom, but also an actual struggle against other people. He discovers adversaries everywhere, lives in continual conflict and dies with sword in hand. (42)

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)

Schopenhauer originally scribbled this passage in his Parerga and Paralipomena, a collection of his last writings, circa 1851. I’ve always found it to be weirdly alluded, or at least echoed in some way, in Fleming’s Goldfinger. For Bond, the world is full of this bizarre will to death—this desire for death on others. We all bring death, in one form or another, into the world—whether you’re a secret agent who kills in the line of duty or somebody who wishes death on another. It’s not the first time he’s dabbled in this line of thought: death, as a collective act of humanity, haunts him in Live and Let Die during a flight to Jamaica in a fierce tropical storm. As the plane staggers and plunges, “its screws now roaring in vacuum and now biting harshly into walls of solid air,” Bond realizes

No, when the stresses are too great for the tired metal, when the ground-mechanic who checks the de-icing equipment is crossed in love and skimps on his job . . . then the little warm room with propellers in front falls straight down out of the sky into the sea or on to the land, heavier than air, fallible, vain. . . . You are linked to the ground mechanic’s careless fingers in Nassau just as you are linked to the weak head of the little man in the family saloon who mistakes the red light for the green and meets you head-on, for the first and last time, as you are motoring quietly home from some private sin. (150-151)

Once again, our actions link everything together where we all contribute to death in some way. Every moment is death: death-in-life, Fleming is claiming as he pounds these ideas on his typewriter in Goldeneye while puffing on probably his seventieth cigarette of the day, the smoke drifting upwards in small clouds, forming the signals of his own mortality. But here the imagery of a crashing car and a plummeting airplane emphasizes a haunting view of technology: specifically, in Fleming’s time, as the prominence of jet flights brought world travel to the cusp of a new era, the phenomenon also suggested a terrifying new technological advance in transportation. The airplane transforms into a massive almost-unstoppable force, a machine of death. So just as Goldfinger begins at Miami International, where Bond wonders if people are contemplating the crash of a DC-7, the novel ends with another plane plunging in rapid descent (with Oddjob sucked out of the cabin6) and crash-landing near Goose Bay, where Bond and Pussy Galore are rescued. Air travel, in the Fleming canon, is a sublime experience—at once appealing and terrifying.

In the novel, the subtleties of this death theme burst in and out of Bond’s thoughts as he probes Goldfinger’s canasta scheme. He wakes the next morning in his hotel room (not the Fontainebleau but the fictional Floridiana) and steps out onto the sun-filled balcony to notice

The breeze was humid and smelt strongly of the sea. Bond guessed it was the breeze that the visitors like, but the residents hate. It would rust the metal fittings in their homes, fox the pages of their books, rot their wallpaper and pictures, breed damp-rot in their clothes. (23)

The sea breeze, as a force of impermanence, gushes onto shore, slowly spreading corrosion damage. It only leaves behind disintegration, death. Oddly enough, I recalled this passage, or at least its essence, as Kristen and I sat in the pool area. The passage forced me to look closely at the Fontainebleau and its pattern of balconies: fueled by the vodka martini, I saw the building shaped vaguely like a cruise ship.

For Kristen, the place was “awesome.” All around us, waiters—just as stewards on a luxury cruise—cheerfully delivered drinks to the guests. The crowd had a smattering of twenty-something college students. I noticed nobody used a camera, and the most popular photo shoot was the so-called “selfie” portrait from a smartphone. I’d say there were half a dozen sightings of people on deck chairs reading Bill O'Reilly’s Killing Reagan. The kids in the pool, all with piercing wails, were natural sopranos for professional opera. It all had the mystical drone ambience of a carnival, something reminiscent of The Beatles’ conceptual pieces (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” comes to mind).


Yet all is not well in this paradise: I never mentioned to Kristen a dark incident that hit the news wires last May. A man was found unconscious in this very pool and later died in hospital, unconfirmed by authorities if it was suicide. His identity wasn’t released, and “circumstances leading up to the drowning [were] unclear” (Batchelor).

Mr. Juan brought us a second round of beverages.

“It’s so shiny and pretty here,” Kristen said. “It’s like they never stop cleaning.”

Gardeners were trimming hedges and tending to flowers along the sides of the patio. Earlier, when Kristen and I roamed the hotel, the maintenance staff was always present, scurrying about with their work, surveying the hotel for any disorder to conquer. The facilities were top-notch, the service impeccable. It was luxury, as seen in the glossy pages of the Robb Report, brought into the here-and-now. For this Bond fan, it resembled the posh service at The Flordiana, where Bond is still standing on the balcony, looking down at the resort:

Olympic-length swimming-pool fringed on all sides by row upon row of mattresses steamer chairs on which the customers would soon be getting their fifty-dollar-a-day sunburn. White-jacketed men were working among them, straightening the lines of chairs, turning the mattresses and sweeping up yesterday’s cigaret butts. Beyond was the long, golden beach and the sea, and more men—raking the midline, putting up the umbrellas, laying out mattresses. (24)

Yet all the while, the sea breeze softly erodes the resort. Two opposing forces emerge: the struggle for elegance, as carried out by the staff, counteracts the onslaught of corrosion from the breeze. It’s order versus chaos; preservation versus disintegration, death, and darkness.

And this same breeze also blew across the ship-like Fontainebleau, a silent scythe grinding into the vessel’s framework. It’s symmetrical to the other disintegration: at the pool area, the people were also undergoing their own corrosion. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a significant number of the vacationers were an older crowd. Not decrepit by any means but middle-aged, certainly well into their 50s, and for whom the inevitable is no longer a distant thing. Then again, all those exposed bodies, regardless of age, were undergoing the process of disintegration. And just behind the good ship Fontainebleau is the Atlantic Ocean, a monstrous generator of decay. We’ve all seen how salt water corrodes boats, rusting them, flaying their varnish, the hulls blistered with barnacles as if these vessels had been dipped into a mixture of acid and some nautical sludge that formulates impermanence itself. The point is, the tremendous effort to keep the Fontainebleau so white and clean is essentially the struggle against this primeval decay-force of the sea. As guests, we’re part of an act that attempts to conquer impermanence—we’re transported into a realm that vigorously drapes a curtain over the darkness. But I cannot help see a kind of irony in all of it: the holiday at a luxury sea resort (or on a cruise ship, for that matter) is meant to be an escape from the drabness of life and, well, anything unpleasant; yet we, in essence, place ourselves in a gigantic machine of disintegration. Maybe this is why we’re somehow given the implicit promise of transcendence, the overcoming of impermanence: these resorts and cruises are typically organized with self-improvement activities and facilities—hence, the obligatory fitness center, the exercise programs, the seminars on cosmetic surgery and diet and nutrition. Moreover, the gaiety and the festivities, along with the adrenaline in the on-premise nightclubs, make us feel energetic and alive. Suddenly, we matter and don’t feel so transitory and insignificant after all. Unfortunately, there is this pesky thing, the inevitable, as Bond suggests when he roams the pool area of The Floridiana. He sees a diver, “a muscled Greek god with golden hair,” flaunting his technique, but all is not well:

He bounced once, causally, and flew off and down, his arms held out like wings. . . . The impact left only a brief turbulence. The diver jack-knifed up again, shaking his head boyishly. There was a smattering of applause. . . . Bond thought, good luck to you! You won’t be able to keep this up for more than another five or six years. High-divers couldn’t take it for long—the repeated shock to the skull. With ski-jumping, which had the same shattering effect on the frame, high-diving was the shortest-lived sport. Bond radioed to the diver, ‘Cash in quick! Get into films while the hair’s still gold.’ (32)

Once again, Fleming inserts this notion of impermanence even in this casual moment where Bond has an impromptu thought on his surroundings. But it gains deeper significance when we take into account Bond’s solitude. The smiling vacationers contrast the dark secret agent, the farthest thing from the archetype of the tourist with a camera dangling around his neck. It’s safe to assume no other hotel guest had just come from a dangerous mission in Mexico and is now investigating this dubious Goldfinger, who is still to come up the stairs to the top deck for the canasta game with Junius Du Pont. No, in this crowd of vacationers, our man Bond is the only one with a hidden persona of a spy. This contrast underscores Bond’s isolation in the crowd, a tactic Fleming touched upon early in the series in Casino Royale, when the agent strolls to the casino one morning, realizing he’s cut off from the world of everyday living: “Against the background of this luminous and sparkling stage, Bond stood in the sunshine and felt his mission to be incongruous andd remote and his dark profession an affront to his fellow actors” (31). For him, there’s a wide gulf between the joyous bright world of these resorts and the dark reality of his profession.


His solitude reminds us of the underlying melancholy at these resorts. Despite the revelry—the merriment of vacationers, music blaring from speakers, children playing in the pool—the individual remains alone in a deeper sense of isolation: we're all here in an over-populated world but there is the core solitude in each of us. No matter how close you are to a person or many others, you're still wrapped in a sense of aloneness. And in these resorts, in the late evening, when crowds diminish and the gaiety-noise ends, the solitude is there in the dark, gnawing at you with uneasiness. It’s the feeling I had during a cruise I took a few years ago: one night (after a cognac-tasting event, which inspired me to imagine cats on jet skis chasing the ship), I noticed the scheduled activities had ceased and I stood on deck and looked at the dark vast sea and the endless dark sky. A grim feeling took possession of me. It was this haunting isolation—the old angst that existentialists have so keenly described—lashing at my senses. Call it despair. Call it anguish—both are sort of trite phrases today, but how else to describe the disturbing feeling of being so alone in this vastness combined with the strange feeling of being so minuscule and futile? For others, it comes with the yearning of death—this need to die to escape the dread. It’s not a coincidence that suicides occur on cruise ships. The U.S. Coast Guard has noted that along the Florida coast alone “four to five people die each year” from going overboard from cruise ships, with some jumping “deliberately, to die by suicide” (Hughes). It’s also not surprising that we find the ocean as a foreboding image in literature: take Melville’s Moby-Dick, Crane’s “The Open Boat”, or Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Since time immemorial, the ocean evokes atavistic nada, the bottomless abyss of nothingness, where exotic creatures, quasi-primordial with tooth-riveted mouthes, lurk in the depths. Fleming dabbles with this imagery in Live and Let Die, the scene where Bond, in the late evening, swims underwater to Mr. Big’s yacht in a lagoon infested with sharks and barracudas:

[Bond] risked a quick glance with his pencil torch, and immediately the underbelly of the mass of brown tree-coral came alive. Anemones with crimson centers waved their velvet tentacles at him. . . . He saw several green and speckled moray eels, the latter moving like big yellow and black snakes along patches of sand. . . . Often in the shadows there were unexplained heavy movements and swirls in the water and the sudden glare of large eyes at once extinguished. Then Bond would whirl round, thumbing up the safety-catch on his harpoon gun, and stare back into the darkness. (178-179)

Bond is alone in this vast underworld. There are otherworldly creatures, stirring in frenzy, signifying a force that devours the individual. The darkness itself engulfs the individual into an insignificant speck in a great sea of nothingness. This insignificance is the unbearable lightness of being. For some, there is an escape: it’s wanting to jump overboard, or diving into a pool and never surfacing again.

Vintage Classic hardcover edition in the UK

For Auric Goldfinger, it’s wanting to be more—more alive, more powerful, more outstanding. To be more, with a concrete presence in the world, is to overcome the pain of being minuscule and insignificant. For such an individual, it means asserting oneself in the most self-centered way to be in control of things. Hence, the schtick about world domination babbled by the megalomaniac Bond villain. Schopenhauer (yes, we’re back to this chap) has another passage that is quite applicable to the mentality of these villains:

Therefore everyone wants everything for himself, wants to possess, or at least control, everything, and would like to destroy whatever opposes him. . . . [The individual], completely vanishing and reduced to nothing in a boundless world, nevertheless makes himself the centre of the world and considers his own existence and well-being before everything else. In fact, from the natural standpoint, he is ready for this to sacrifice everything else; he is ready to annihilate the world, in order to maintain his own self, that drop in the ocean, a little longer. (The World as Will and Representation Volume 1, 332)

Of course, Schopenhauer applies the idea onto everyone: each an embodied ego, pulsing with the will to live, and for whom the primary interest to stay alive takes precedence over everything, including obviously the life-interest of others. This fuels universal conflict; and the suffering from all this shit is the inescapable condition of life. That, to me, is Schopenhauer’s famed pessimism in a nutshell. The Bond villain, in his megalomania, just happens to be the ultimate manifestation of the mentality that wants “to annihilate the world, in order to maintain his own self, that drop in the ocean, a little longer.” So with good old Auric, even a mundane canasta game must work in his favor, an intention that impels him to rig the game and signals his impulse to control. “Why does he do it?” Bond asks when he confronts Jill Masterton on the balcony. The woman’s response touches upon the underlying mania:

Animation flooded back into her face. ‘I know. I simply can’t understand him. It’s a sort of mania with him, making money. He can’t leave it alone. . . . He’s always going on about the same thing, getting the odds right. When he talked me into doing this,’ she waved her cigaret at the binoculars, ‘and I asked him why on earth he bothered, took these stupid risks, all he said was, “That’s the second lesson. When the odds aren’t right, make them right.” ’ (38)

It’s the gradual portrait of a sicko narcissist: Goldfinger’s explanation about tweaking the odds in his favor casts light on how he asserts himself before everything else. In other words, the conditions of the world must abide by his ways. He molds the world according to his vision. This takes us to the obligatory villain speech, one of the best in the Fleming works. At this stage, Goldfinger has captured Bond and spares the agent’s life by forcing him to take on the administrative duties for the gold-hoarder’s most ambitious enterprise. The portrait nears completion as Auric describes his passion for gold and how it transformed his life:

‘Mr Bond, all my life I have been in love. I have been in love with gold. I love its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness. I love the texture of gold, that soft sliminess that I have learnt to gauge so accurately by touch that I can estimate the fitness of a bar to within one carat. . . . But, above all, Mr Bond, I love the power that gold alone gives to its owner—the magic of controlling energy, exacting labour, fulfilling one’s every wish and whim and, when need be, purchasing bodies, minds, even souls.’ (184)

Norwegian paperback edition

His obsession for gold points to a manifesto of power. This links to an earlier image, briefly described in an “off-screen” manner by Tilly Masterton, although it became the famous image in the film version: the woman painted gold. In true Bondian villainy, Auric has an aspect of the grotesque—in this case, a touch of the perverse for cherishing gold-painted women. Alas, with his tight schedule for world domination, he can only devote himself once a month to this most necessary hobby; but his method is succinct: (1) hypnotize the woman; (2) get Oddjob to pain her gold, making sure that the backbones are untouched to let the pores of the skin breathe; (3) revel in this beatific vision; (4) make sure Oddjob washes the paint away “with resin or something” (161); and (5) pay the woman a thousand dollars and send her away. The process is another manifestation of his propensity for tyrannical power: he controls the woman, erasing her being so to speak, by transforming her into gold.

Auric’s portrait reaches completion when he announces his master plan to rob Fort Knox. He babbles about history as a train speeding along through time. In this impermanence, Auric lets the train of history whirl opportunities and enterprises at him. Convinced of his greatness, he’s untouched by impermanence, standing outside of time in an almost eternal sense, manipulating bursts of moments to his advantage. Of course, he will triumph over everyone, and the scheme will be the greatest act in history:

‘Man has climbed Everest and he has scraped the depths of the ocean. . . . He has invented, devised, created in every realm of human endeavor, and everywhere he has triumphed, broken records, achieved miracles. I said in every realm, but there is one that has been neglected, Mr Bond. That one is the human activity loosely known as crime.” (186)

He dismisses the petty acts of bank robberies and the “idiotic wars” that lead to “clumsy destruction of each other.” Not for him the small time swindles and forgeries. Goldfinger stands on a higher plane, seeking the greatest act of criminal exploit: the Fort Knox heist represents a profound performance guaranteed to provoke admiration for the “greatest extra-legal coup of all time” for which “the world will rock with that applause for centuries” (186).


To live with glory for centuries is, in a sense, to gain immortality. For Goldfinger, gold is the path to permanence. The more he accumulates gold, immerses himself in gold, the more he can stand outside of time like a god. There’s just one complication he seems to overlook: even gold has frailty, impermanence. As Colonel Smithers, a bureaucrat at the Bank of England, explains to Bond early in the novel:

[Gold] isn’t hard enough. It wears out quickly, leaves itself on the linings of our pockets and in the sweat of our skins. Every year, the world’s stock is invisibly reduced by friction. (57)

So even gold has an aspect of disintegration. Thus, the central paradox of Goldfinger: just as he struggles for permanence, the other silent force—the force of impermanence—slowly works its corrosive effect. Gold, then, has an illusory aspect: metaphorically, there is nothing tangible in what Goldfinger is struggling to accumulate. The basis of his identity—that of a gold hoarder and the power it brings—is non-existent. The illusory foundation of identity is a common theme in the Fleming books. In Casino Royale, as Bond recovers from Le Chiffre’s work on his lower regions with a carpet beater, the agent notes the confusion of good and evil. The discussion with Mathis, his ally at the Deuxième Bureau, provokes him to suggest that he can no longer see himself clearly; that it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between heroes and villains—for “‘when the hero Le Chiffre starts to kill the villain Bond and the villain Bond knows he isn’t a villain at all, you see the other side of the medal. The villains and heroes all get mixed up’” (134). In this blurring of roles, there is no certainty of the self. Six years later, Bond encounters a villain with a variation of the problem: Goldfinger’s identity faces threat of erasure through impermanence.

This opaqueness of the self reinforces the novel’s preoccupation with selfhood. We’ve seen Bond’s self-disgust from having to kill on a mission. We’ve also noted his observation of people at the airport longing for a plane crash to bring spectacle into their lives; and whether it’s a diver in the pool area of a resort eager to draw attention to himself or Goldfinger’s megalomania, we sense in the authorial voice a disdain for the self and its egocentric trappings. Even Pussy Galore’s brief character sketch near the end of the novel implies a dark childhood of molestation with a deranged self-absorbed uncle. The terrors in life stem from the self—each a warring ego, unstable in its impulses, striving to matter in the world and overriding others as necessary to assert itself. Even one of the lighter moments in the novel—Bond’s dinner with Junius Du Pont—expresses a variation of this theme. It’s a night of gluttony in epicurean delight, where memories of Bond’s dangerous mission in Mexico disappear.


Gluttony for a spy

Fleming sets the dinner scene at Bill’s on the Beach, a seafood restaurant specializing in stone crabs. As the backstory goes, the restaurant is the fictional version of the renowned Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, apparently where Fleming (according to the “official tome” James Bond: The Man and his World) had dined with long-time friend Ivar Bryce.7 Why Fleming concocted a fictitious version is unclear, considering his tendency to include famous places and locations in his Bond stories. Today, Joe’s Stone Crab is a block-long institution in South Florida. The restaurant is family-owned and operated, attracting celebrities and chefs during stone crab season (October through May) in an almost holy event. What started as a beach side lunch counter in 1913 is now essentially a tourist trap with a who's-who history—the likes of Al Capone, J. Edgar Hoover, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Sinatra, Bill Clinton, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and Connery himself, to name a few, have all cracked crab shells in this restaurant.


In the novel, when Bond and Junius Du Pont agree to dinner, they leave the airport at 7:00 PM. The John Griswold collection of annotations for Fleming’s works8 (quite erudite) asserts that both characters are in the restaurant by 7:30 PM. Of course, I had to commemorate the scene: with the Anonymous Gang, I suggested, or rather mandated, dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab at the same time as in the novel. Maybe it was the lingering Christmas spirit of good tidings and great joy, or maybe the gang finally surrendered to my nerdy adventure, because I was met with little resistance, although I do admit that I did make such a hullabaloo about this Ian Fleming landmark, even reading aloud bits of the scene in the novel, that my companions had to tell me, with sincere civility, to shut up about the “landmark” already. So 56 years after the publication of Goldfinger, we were all in a rented GMC SUV (alas, not a gleaming Chrysler Imperial, as in the novel) heading to the Bondian restaurant from our hotel, which meant plodding through the gridlock traffic after crossing the bridge into South Beach from Miami mainland. Here, at last, was South Beach—the name evokes sun-drenched days in turquoise waters and soft breezy nights sipping tropical drinks underneath palm trees.9 I can report that this imagery is valid—for about 10 seconds. As I sat in the car, looking out the window, the excitement vanished, replaced by the feeling that I had entered a police state in some Latin American country.


Several years had passed since my last visit to Miami so it was startling to see police cars and officers patrolling Ocean Drive, the iconic neon-lit stretch of Art Deco buildings in the center of South Beach. At every few blocks, along palm trees near the sidewalk, floodlights aimed at the street and the row of designer boutiques, sidewalk cafes, questionable store fronts, and dusk-to-dawn clubs. Miami proper has become one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, according to a report by 24/7 Wall St (Sauter). I can attest to this finding: the gang and I had a quick stroll along the sidewalk, dodging the local stock of drunks and panhandlers in the midst of the stench of urine and garbage: let’s just say the place was a carnival of debauchery for the so-called bling and urban crowd. Caligula and Elagabalus would have enjoyed it all, applauding the close proximity of high-end hotels to grimy tattoo parlors and sex shops. Noisy, congested, the sidewalk—crammed with dining tables and street vendors—felt claustrophobic. Cars zoomed by, blasting loud music. High-decibel bursts of hip-hop and Latin music blared from the rows of restaurants and roof-top bars. A young woman in red thongs performed a Latin cabaret show on a small stage in front of a bar. Restaurant hosts, acting as street hawkers, greeted onlookers and badgered them with drink offers. A scraggy pale old man10, with an albino python draped on his shoulders, pestered tourists for a photograph. Added to the grind show were prostitutes on the prowl, Eurotrash, homeless people pushing carts piled with their belongings, and shady characters, resembling extras from Scarface, huddling in alleys. Think of it as Disney World for the dregs of humanity.

Joe’s Stone Crab, on Washington Avenue, is near the south end, nestled in a welcoming sedate corner. The Mediterranean architecture, with its stucco facade and archways and neon-lit sign, has touches of Fleming’s description:

They [Bond and Du Pont] drew up at a white-painted, mock-Regency frontage in clapboard and stucco. A scrawl of pink neon said: BILL’S ON THE BEACH.

Except that the neon sign was green and orange. But there were steps at the front of the building, as Fleming described. Rows of palm trees at either side of the entrance reinforced the dramatic flair of the gated entry. This grandeur is reflected inside, although the description in the novel (not surprisingly) is quite different from the current decor. In Goldfinger, Bond finds himself in a big room “decorated in white pink muslin swags over the windows,” and there were “pink lights on the tables” (16). By contrast, the real Joe’s had a dark wood color scheme, which is out of place with the South Beach Art Deco style.


But one thing is certain: just as in the novel, the restaurant was crowded. In fact, so crowded that the restaurant has the notorious reputation of having long wait times, stretching to two hours or more. Reservations are never taken, but the restaurant, as the tuxedoed maitre d’ boasted, seats 2,000 people each night, 500 at a time. The waiting area was comfortable enough. Some tourists from Romania managed to keep Kristen entertained with amusing magic tricks. The noisy bar area and the open-air courtyard were also suitable places to wait. I was joined by a member of the Anonymous Gang for a drink at the bar: of course, two rounds of vodka martini with a slice of lemon peel to reenact the Bond-Du Pont ritual. But the wait became an almost sideshow in itself, forcing you to take note of all the others anticipating their tables and the existential condition of your shared moment in the restaurant. The act of waiting became a common bond of humanity. With such a large crowd, is all of humanity even in this restaurant? I wondered. At the very least, the entire population of Winnipeg, Manitoba had to be in the room. I craned my head to see over the crowd at the bar and noticed an even larger crowd. Waiting had never been more surprising. It was also quite the anthropological experience: because the lengthy wait was based on the geological time scale, there were actual members of the Australopithecus genus milling in the crowd.

Eventually, after another aeon had passed, we did hear the maitre d’ call our group over the microphone.11 He shook our hands with a big smile and gave a brief synopsis of the restaurant’s history. We have entered, so he implied, a ceremonious event. Each step in our march to the dining table was a glorious stride into culinary history. In the cavernous room, tuxedoed servers whirled in between tables with stainless steel trays held high above their heads. No sooner did we sit at the white linen tablecloth than the magic unfolded quickly. The first course arrived within minutes. If there was anything truly extraordinary about Joe’s Stone Crab, it was the speed of the staff. Just catching a glimpse of a table being replenished was remarkable. Mysteriously, as if appearing out of nowhere, a battalion of wiry staff members quietly whisk to refresh the table with linens, silverware, napkins, and glasses faster than a racing car pit crew. Fleming also notes the rapid service in Goldfinger:

A bustle of waiters round their table saved Bond having to think up a reply [to Du Pont’s question about canasta]. . . . Finally, with an oily smirk, the head waiter came behind their chairs and, in turn, tied round their necks long white silken bibs that reached down to the lap. (21)

Our pit crew also tied white bibs around our necks, provoking the most out-spoken member of the Anonymous Gang to remark that we all looked goofy. His comment was a great segue for me to describe that Bond also wore a bib in the novel, which led (once again) to the gang telling me, rather mildly, to forget the "ancient novel" and just get on with choosing something from the wine list. Little did they know that when they agreed to the pink champagne I recommended, they were collaborating to commemorate the scene. In the novel, Du Pont stipulates silver tankards of the 1950 Pommery. The closest thing I found on the menu was the 2010 Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne, a clear rosy medium pink with fine bubbles. Its medium intensity and underlying red berry fruit flavor proved quite appealing to the ladies in the group, which elevated me a few points on the redemption scale, though I still had a long way to go considering the unpopularity of my Bondian lectures.12


The stone crabs are, of course, the star attraction. They’re piled on platters, conveniently pre-cracked, and ready to be shelled. The sight was enough to remind me of Bond’s experience: “a wide silver dish of crabs, big ones, their shells and claws broken, was placed in the middle of the table,” a culinary delight that becomes “the most delicious meal he had had in his life” (21). Personally, I disagree with our Mr. Bond. The food at Joe’s is good but not spectacular to warrant such an exceptional experience as Bond’s, unless of course he’s simply fallen into hyperbole in that joyous moment. Without the long wait, I'd say the restaurant is a must-see if you happen to be in South Beach. Still, there’s something to be said about the succulence and texture of the stone crabs: somehow, at Joe’s, they taste a little fresher and sweeter, the characteristic flavor even in Fleming’s time, as Bond notes that “The meat of the stone crabs was the tenderest, sweetest shellfish he had ever tasted” (21).

And it would probably taste even better, perhaps the best in the world, when you’ve just come from killing a vicious thug in Mexico and you’re immersed in the here-and-now, just feeling a deep sense of relief to be far from murders and dangerous missions. Everything in the moment then becomes cherished and delightful, as you feel alive and celebrate that aliveness. So Bond devours his meal, as Fleming writes, claiming it’s the best he’s ever had (yes, it could be hyperbole, after all), and remembers Charles Laughton playing the eponymous monarch in The Private Life of Henry VIII. Laughton, as the saying goes, chews the scenery in this 1933 film but projects a fascinating glimpse into a wreck of a man and his compulsive inability to be satiated. Considering his out-of-control serial marriages and well-known rumpuses at the court, the portly Henry wasn’t exactly the paradigm of restraint. Thus, the novel’s allusion to the film reinforces the implied meditation on gluttony, first surfacing when Bond notes that “neither Mr Du Pont nor the neighboring diners seemed surprised at the hoggish display” at their table. Unabashedly, Du Pont even expresses a “gleeful ‘Every man for himself’” attitude as he “raked several hunks of crab on to his plate” (21).

The dinner goes smoothly, both men hardly chatting, fully absorbed in gobbling down the piles of crab and using the champagne to clean the palate. Their feast must end, of course; for when your dining companion gives “a slight belch” and wipes “butter off his chin with his silken bib” and sits back, his face flushed, and proudly states, “‘Mr Bond, I doubt if anywhere in the world a man has eaten as good a dinner as that tonight,’” (21)—well, at this stage, you’ve entered Henry Number 8’s court of decadence and it’s time to call it a night to spare some dignity.

Or so Bond seems to think. The self-disgust resurfaces, not from the murder in Mexico but from the extravagant meal. Bond had asked for the easy life, the rich life, and wonders:

How do I like eating like a pig and hearing remarks [about the best dinner in the world]? Suddenly the idea of ever having another meal like this, or indeed any other meal with Mr Du Pont, revolted him. He felt momentarily ashamed of his disgust. He had asked and it had been given. It was the puritan in him that couldn’t take it. He had made his wish and the wish had not only been granted, it had been stuffed down his throat. (21-22)

The reference to “puritan” suggests Bond isn’t a profound hedonist who’s always living the luxurious 007 lifestyle. Nor does it mean he’s entrenched in the monastic life, shunning the second deadly sin. No, no, he's just capable of expressing a shade of prudishness to ward off gluttony—gluttony as a mechanism to avoid reality by filling one’s life with distractions. Moreover, the sight of Du Pont gorging on crab with splatters of butter on his chin isn’t exactly flattering. What Bond sees across the table is an annoying and horrid individual. This recalls the early scenes in which the novel offers brief sketches of misanthropy, or rather expressions of disdain towards the self, as we’ve seen even in Bond’s observation of the vain diver at the pool of the Floridiana, showcasing his presence to the guests. Now Bond finds Du Pont and the entire dinner revolting: in Du Pont’s hoggish display, Bond in a sense sees himself, a mirror reflection of a glutton. We all know Dante’s Inferno, its allegorical journey through Hell where the third circle is Gluttony. Weirdly, Bond and Du Pont remind me of the gluttons in Dante’s piece—and I highly doubt Fleming had Dante in mind, but the two characters sort of reflect those gluttonous sinners, all of them blind, symbolizing how they’re so heedless of others, and trapped in the cold, selfish, and empty sensuality of their lives. Of course, in the posh ambience of the restaurant, Bond hasn’t fallen into the third circle of Hell (where the weather is continuous dirty rain and hail pelting the sinners). But he seems to realize that he and Du Pont, however momentary, have been sightless, unaware of their decadent avarice. It’s the glutton who is adamantly self-focused. The glutton is only concerned with his own desires and needs, impulses that reach ultimate manifestation, as Bond would witness, in the megalomania of an Auric Goldfinger.

So much, then, for the bright exciting world of 007. We’re back where we started: namely, this business of the novel’s unpleasant view of the self; that each is an embodied ego striving to live, negating others in the process and fueling the inescapable reality of human conflict. Schopenhauer called this phenomenon the will-to-live—this relentless impulse for the individual to assert himself, to survive, to exist. Surprisingly, Fleming touches upon the notion briefly in the torture scene when Bond is strapped to a table as a circular saw rips through it, moving towards his body. Bond considers hastening death, committing suicide by holding his breath. As he feels “the wind of the saw between his knees,” he senses the life energy within him:

Bond counted the slowly pounding pulse that utterly possessed his body. . . . What was this ridiculous will to live that refused to listen to the brain? Who was making the engine run although the tank was dry of fuel? (175)

Whether you believe in Schopenhauer’s metaphysical view, the bottom line is, the individual, among all battle egos, confronts a perpetual struggle, not just with boredom or desires or any inner torment one has but an actual struggle with others. Early in the novel, the description of Schwab, a drug baron, exemplifies this grim view of humanity:

Unfortunately Schwab was a bad man, unconcerned with suffering humanity. He had the idea that if American juvenile delinquents could consume millions of dollars’ worth of heroin every year, so could their Teddy boy and girls cousins. In two rooms in Pimlico, his staff watered the heroin with stomach powder and sent it on its way to the dance halls and amusement arcades. (6)

By implication, the novel raises a compelling question: as battling egos, can we truly be concerned with suffering humanity? If not, then we’re all hosed because we’re stuck with one another, each a horrid beast bound to clash. Fleming wrote the novel (working title, The Richest Man in the World) in January and February 1958 and—by my reading, at any rate—poured bleakness into the novel to grasp his own pessimistic outlook. Then again, we’ve had even more towering figures of pessimism before, Schopenhauer not withstanding: one of the greats in Western civilization even babbled, as his final lines to us, that we are such stuff as dreams are made on. The pessimistic disposition in Goldfinger simply captures this human experience in its own way. Moreover, its preoccupation with the decadence of the self is the real novelty, the glittering element, that makes it all worthwhile, despite a preposterous plot.

It also attempts to offer an answer to the grimness. We find it in the scene where Bond learns of Jill Masterton’s death from sister Tilly: the doomed Bond girl dies of suffocation from Auric’s paint job (yes, she’s the gold-painted girl), and Bond’s reaction harks back to the universal-act-of-death theme:

Bond closed his eyes tight, fighting with a wave of mental nausea. More death! More blood on his hands. This time, as the result of a careless gesture, a piece of bravado that had led to twenty-four hours of ecstasy with a beautiful girl who had taken his fancy and, in the end, rather more than his fancy. . . . This death he would not be able to excuse as being part of his job. This death he would have to live with. (162)

The uncorrected proof of Goldfinger, which sold
for £1,800 at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in 2015

Here again we have this business about human actions linking everything together in which we all contribute death in some way. Jill’s death stems from Bond’s invitation to elope with him: the jealous Auric, with his ego smacked, had her painted entirely in gold as revenge for running off with Bond after the agent exposes the villain’s card cheating scam. Despite her weakened state in the emergency ward of a Miami hospital, Jill manages to cable her sister and explains it all when she arrives. A crafty girl, this one, but the carelessness in the narrative emerges: why didn’t Jill have enough smarts to explain to the doctors or tell the police? Then again, this is a James Bond story—who needs credibility? And whatever casual readers or naysayers of Fleming’s fiction expect from Goldfinger, Bond’s reaction expresses a humanistic message: come to terms with your actions that influence death and put a sense of order in your life through compassion—and some of the radiance from this warmth may burn out the horrors of our actions. Or if it will not, at least put yourself in order.

It seems strange that the character—known, of course, for his 007-style epicurean tastes—asserts a taming of the self, but the novel is what it is, though written in a period of turmoil in Fleming’s life, which may hold the reason for the curious theme. In 1958, as Fleming wrote Goldfinger in Jamaica, his marriage to Ann Fleming was shot to hell (it was the plate-throwing kind of marriage); and he was scant months from turning 50, in terrible shape, frequently drunk, suffering from “a bad back, dodgy kidneys, a dicky heart and stress” (Cook 158), and smoking the usual 70 or so cigarettes a day. The physical deterioration reflected his existential decadence: Fleming was known to be a cad, a vulgar solipsist, an arrogant pleasure seeker. A letter to Mary Rose, his sister-in-law, from brother-in-law Hugo Charteris depicts an Ian Fleming who was quite the prick:

Ian is a subtle bitch and in fact married to no one but himself . . . Esmond was a come down from [O’Neill] - but Ian was really falling through the floor. And I believe [Ann] has really suffered with with him - as one must being married to a person who really exists only for themselves - and who is neurotic and verbally violent in the bargain. (Parker 241)

It is, we realize, a letter for their eyes only, unless this Hugo chap also offered such warm salutations to Fleming in their encounters as a way to cut all ties from him—thus, an effective way to avoid those awkward family Christmas get-togethers. Nevertheless, the portrait in the letter is apparently the man behind the pages of the Bond books. My own armchair pychiatriac practice points to a man who, if Goldfinger is any evidence, held a mirror in front of him to grasp his own flaws. The great need, the one thing needful, is to confront the darkness within (ah, that age-old theme) and feel your own painful self locked in the cage of hubris. And it’s also there, within us, where the fertile ground of chaos begins. So in the Bond books, the horrors of the world are not grandiose and theological. Evil, whatever it is, does not emanate from some supernatural force. The character samplings we’ve seen in Goldfinger are enough to show that the motives which corrupt people are within us—an aspect of ourselves.

By no means all Fleming’s readers will agree that disillusionment and human failure are integral to life as he seems to suggest in his fiction. Fleming himself, as a man, had an outlook that embraced life: when not stuck behind his newspaper desk in gray, damp London, he was known to travel the world, fascinated by people, places, and things. One gains the impression that this person was far less melancholy than the one we meet in the Bond stories. But it’s the authorial voice in those pages that invites scrutiny: this instance of the man was not a literary titan. Nor did he attempt to be one. “I have no message for suffering humanity,” so he claims, ever tongue in cheek, in the closest thing we have to something of a treatise on his craft. “The target of my books lay somewhere between the solar plexus and, well, the upper thigh" ("How to Write a Thriller”). Still, his prose is sometimes striking enough not to be dismissed, as it is with Goldfinger, which landed on Anthony Burgess’ glorious list in 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939. For Burgess, “Fleming raised the standard of the popular story of espionage through good writing—a heightened journalistic style—and the creation of a government agent—James Bond, 007—who is sufficiently complicated to compel our interest over a whole series of adventures” (74).

Well, it certainly helps if you’ve got a brooding government agent, the type who can express flashes of insight that weave smoothly in and out of the action. Take again the death of Jill Masterton. If silencing the noise of the self, as Bond implies in his compassionate reaction, is some basis for an actual “message to humanity,” then how does one reign in the chaos within to form an ordered individual? The novel doesn’t offer an answer; but subsequent 007 tales, with its fleeting references to Hemingway’s fiction, suggests Fleming admired the discipline of the so-called Hemingway Hero. This takes us to Key West, the next phase in my secret mission.

To be continued



2 In the novel, Bond stays at the Floridiana, an offshoot of the Fontainebleau.
3 The character in the novel has a slightly different last name: Masterton.
4 In the novel, the game is canasta.
5 I write this piece in 2017, a year after the demise of Guy Hamilton and Ken Adam. Other cast members—Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Gert Frobe, Harold Sakota, Cec Linder—have also passed away. Many people in Bond lore are now shadows.
6 In the film version, it’s Auric who is sucked out of the airplane window after a gun is fired in the cabin. Oddjob, on the other hand, is electrocuted when Bond outsmarts him inside the vault of Fort Knox.
7 It’s unclear when Fleming dined at Joe’s Stone Crab. For a so-called official companion to the Fleming works, Henry Chancelor’s James Bond and his World lacks detailed chronologies, dates, and cited works.
8 The full title of Griswold’s book is Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories. The intense scrutiny he must have poured into the Fleming books, as well as the amount of library time he devoted, would knock the living daylights out of anybody, I’d imagine.
9 For clarity, Miami Beach is a city by itself. One of its neighborhoods is South Beach, located of course in the south part of the city.
10 It was not Daniel Craig but the similarity was sort of striking.
11 Total wait time for my group: 1 hour 10 minutes.
12 For the record, Kristen savored the pink lemonade I suggested. At this point, we had formed a kind of anti-Anonymous Gang alliance: whenever any one denounced my Bondian commentary, she and I amused each other across the table by making a quick gesture of pulling a wire garrotte that extends from our watches—of course, the assasination weapon in From Russia With Love, as I explained to her earlier in the hotel.

List of Illustrations

All images are from the author's collection unless otherwise noted.
“Goldfinger collage.” Online Image. Illustrated 007. 18 Sept. 2017.
< http://illustrated007.blogspot.com/2012/02/ >.
"Chapter 1 of Goldfinger." Online Image. Shopify. 22 Sept. 2017. Modified by author.
< http://tinyurl.com/ybvklnod >.
"Schopenhauer." Online Image. Internet Encyclopedia of Philisophy. 20 Aug. 2017.
< http://www.communitas.pe/es/filosofia-y-etica/20180-parerga-y-paralipomena-9788477026310.html >.
"Vintage Classic hardcover of Goldfinger." Online Image. The Book Bond. 8 June 2017.
< http://www.thebookbond.com/2017/ >.
"Norwegian paperback edition of Goldfinger." Online Image. The Illustrated 007. 17 April 2017.
< http://illustrated007.blogspot.com/2011/10/norwegian-book-covers.html >.
"Gold bars." Online Image. color-meanings.com. 20 Aug. 2017.
< http://www.color-meanings.com/gold-color-meaning-the-color-gold/ >.
"Uncorrected proof of Goldfinger." Online Image. Eastern Daily Press. 6 Oct. 2017.
< http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/rare-james-bond-book-sells-for-1-800-at-aylsham-auction-1-4100782 >.

Works Cited

Batchelor, Amanda. “Man drowns in Fontainebleau hotel pool.” Local 10 News. 18 May 2015.
Accessed 17 November 2015, https://www.local10.com/news/local/man-drowns-in-fontainebleau-hotel-pool
Burgess, Anthony. 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. Print.
Cook, Andrew. The Ian Fleming Miscellany. Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2015. Print.
Chancellor, Henry. James Bond: The Man and His World - The Official Companion to Ian Fleming's Creation.
Great Britain: John Murray (Publishers), 2005. Print.
Fleming, Ian. Casino Royale. 1952. Print.
---. Live and Let Die. 1954. New York: Berkley, 1982. Print.
—--. Goldfinger. 1959. New York: Berkley, 1982. Print.
---. "How To Write A Thriller." Rpt. in Bondage 13 (1984): 1-7. Print.
Hughes, Trevor. “Coast Guard: Handful of people jump from cruise ships.” USA Today, March 7, 2016
Griswold, John. Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories.
Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse™, 2006. Print.
Parker, Matthew. Goldeneye: Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica. New York: Pegasus Books, LLC, 2015. Print.
Rubin, Steven Jay. The James Bond Films: A Behind The Scenes History. New York: Arlington House, 1983. Print.
Sauter, Michael B., et al. “50 Worst American Cities to Live In.” 24/7 Wall St. 16 June 2017
Accessed 20 July 2017, http://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/06/16/50-worst-cities-to-live-in/
Schopenhauer, Arthur. Essays and Aphorisms. Translated by R.J. Hollingdale, 1970. Penguin Books, 1988. Print.
---. The World as Will and Representation. Translated by E.F.J. Payne, 1958. Dover Publications, Inc., 1969. Print.
Using any text or paraphrasing any of the ideas on this web site without proper citation is plagiarism. It is a serious misconduct that can range from failure in an academic course, even dismissal from school, and litigation. To avoid plagiarism, refer to the MLA citation styles described at The Owl At Purdue, the web site of the Writing Lab at Purdue University.