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The Dialectic of Doctor No

In his requisite doomsday speech, the megalomaniac villain evokes haunting philosophical notions
By Ian Dunross
June 14, 2010
Note: The novel Doctor No is also published under the title Dr. No. This commentary uses the former spelling, based on the 1982 Berkeley paperback edition. In text citations, the spelling of the character's name varies according to the original source material.

Have a prefatory look at some quotes. The first is from O.F. Snelling, a practitioner of Bondology1 if ever there was such a thing in literary studies:

There is some method in the man's madness, though. Dr. No isn't a drooling lunatic . . . He emphatically discourages visitors to his island, but trespassers—and those among his workers who have to be punished—serve as his guinea-pigs.  (110)

The second is from, of all things, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit:

But the ‘other’ is also a self-consciousness; one individual is confronted by another individual. . . . In so far as it is the action of the other, each seeks the death of the other. But in doing so, the second kind of action, action on its own part, is also involved; for the former involves the staking of its own life. Thus the relation of the two self-conscious individuals is such that they prove themselves and each other through a life-and-death struggle. They must engage in this struggle, for they must raise their certainty of being for themselves to truth, both in the case of the other and in their own case.  (113-114)

As the backstory goes, Fleming was in London in autumn 1957, questioning the viability of his fifth novel From Russia, With Love and dreading to return to Goldeneye, his Jamaican retreat, in the following January to write the next Bond adventure. Disenchanted with slow commercial success, often restless, contending with his own pustular state—bouts with sciatica, kidney trouble, heart palpitations, only exacerbated by the hard smoking and drinking—he was haunted by self-doubt and stared at the final notes for what would become Doctor No. From here on, he decided, he would play it safe with his fiction. The literary merits he sought in From Russia, With Love—an emulation of Simenon's brooding thrillers, mixed with an unusual narrative structure and a cliffhanger finale—would be the last sort of experimentation. It was time he stuck to a formula to ensure his place in the best-seller stakes.

The Mad Scientist Revisited

For his villain Doctor No, Fleming
was inspired by Sax Rohmer's
Fu Manchu.

For Doctor No, Fleming's method was to pluck a stock character—the incredible mad scientist—from his boyhood readings of Sax Rohmer's Dr. Fu Manchu and other tales of the feuilleton class. The result: archetypal motifs from fantastical adventures surround the villain Doctor No, a brilliant but evil scientist, dwelling on a mysterious island and tinkering with fictional technology to dominate the world. Doctor No is not only a Fu Manchu redux—a tall, lean Oriental renegade, with almost superhuman faculties, draped in a long kimono, sporting a shaved head and pincers for his hands—but a variation of another mad scientist, concocted by H.G. Wells, one Dr. Moreau who just happens to be the proprietor of an island. In Verne too, we find shades of the antecedent of Doctor No: Captain Nemo, a genius scientist seeking revenge on civilization, spends his days underwater in a magnificent submarine, the Nautilus, watching the undersea life through the vessel's thick lenticular window—just as Fleming's villain seeks refuge in the underground facilities of his island, admiring the view of the undersea from a spectacular armored glass wall. It is hardly farfetched, this trace of Verne's tale in Fleming's adventure, especially when we note that Bond battles the man-eating giant squid in Doctor No's lair, a scene that recalls the attack of Captain Nemo's submarine by a monstrous octopus.

Reviewing the character today, one is struck by how incredibly exaggerated, even how Daliesque, Fleming rendered his villain in this 1958 novel. Bond himself is astounded by the surrealism, alluding to the Spanish painter during his first impressions of the good doctor:

It was impossible to tell Doctor No's age: as far as Bond could see, there were no lines on the face. . . . Even the cavernous indrawn cheeks below the prominent cheekbones looked as smooth as fine ivory. There was something Dali-esque about the eyebrows, which were fine and black and sharply upswept as if they had been painted on as make-up for a conjurer.  (155)

The late Richard Maibaum, the prolific screenwriter of the 007 film series, was taken aback by the outlandish character when he collaborated with Wolf Mankowitz to develop the script for the film version. In 1989, at age 80, Maibaum took stock of his involvement with the series and remembered Fleming's villain with amusement:

‘We read the book again,’ he fondly recalled, ‘and we both fell on the floor laughing. A Chinaman with two hooks, Fu Man Chu. That's gone out with long winter underwear.’ (Altman 22)
Above: Captain Nemo views
a monstrous octopus from
the Nautilus.
Bottom: The Semic Press
AB comic book adaptation
of Doctor No depicts Bond
on the cover, battling
the villain's giant squid.

As a celebrated anecdote in 007 filmdom, in the late summer of 1961 the two screenwriters removed the character from their script and, ironically, came up with something even more ridiculous by introducing a small monkey called Doctor No who perched on the shoulder of one Professor Dent,2 the second in command at SPECTRE (Altman 22). Producer Cubby Broccoli was outraged and demanded the inclusion of the the literary Doctor No in the screenplay. In subsequent drafts (and with Mankowitz no longer involved), Maibaum essentially adhered to Fleming's vision (albeit minus the hideous metal hooks), and one gathers that the character grew on him. For what makes the evil scientist so damn readable is that, despite his fantastical dimension, Fleming went out of his way to make the madman's propensity for world domination a credible one and to provide him with sufficient reasons for behaving as he does. Indeed, he becomes enthralling in the obligatory doomsday speech, the best delivered by a villain in the entire Bondian canon. At once sinister, histrionical, and with touches of camp, the speech holds intriguing philosophical ideas.

Thus Spake Doctor No: A Hegelian Self-tribute

Not surprisingly, the gist of the speech is the one thing at the center of the universe: namely, the doctor himself. As one of the Profound Narcissists in the tradition of megalomaniac villains, Doctor No is compelled to deliver a biographical account of himself, a magnanimous act that would only enlighten any listener. “‘I shall enjoy telling you the story of one of the most remarkable men in the world’” (159), he tells Bond during the prelude to the obligatory dinner-with-the villain scene. The theme, then, of the speech is not Doctor No's scheme to disrupt American missile tests on nearby Turks Island; rather, it's his very own glorious history to which the larger canvas of human history is marginalized, almost erased in insignificance. After all, for a solipsist, the only history that matters is his life journey.

Of note, his biography is recounted with something of a Hegelian dialectical progression. Could it be that Doctor No sees the world—and himself—from this perspective? Is he even fond of Hegel's philosophy, reshaping it, reinterpreting it for his personal use? Well, he did immerse himself in academia to study medicine, roaming “‘the world of libraries and laboratories and classrooms and campuses’” (164), so it's unlikely that he never discovered the writings of the German philosopher and, moreover, his insistence that his knowledge of philosophy is superior to Bond's (“‘I know philosophy, I know ethics, and I know logic—better than you do, I daresay’” [161]) suggests that he's well read in philosophical studies, to which Hegel—a prominent figure of German Idealism—must have landed on Doctor No's reading list.

It was Hegel who envisioned an underlying purpose to history based on a progression composed of each successive movement emerging as a solution to the limitations inherent in the preceding movement. Thus, each movement represents an advance over the previous one, unfolding continually until an endpoint is reached. In glorious Hegelian obscurity:

But the other side of its Becoming, History, is a conscious, self-mediating process—Spirit emptied out into Time; but this externalization, this kenosis, is equally an externalization of itself; the negative is the negative of itself. This Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance.  (Hegel 492)
G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)

The epitome of clarity, no? Allow me to contribute to the confusion: at the very center of Hegel's concept is the unification of opposites occurring in a triadic progression. Every concept begins to have cracks, eventually showing us its flaws, its limitations, and tends toward its opposite, negating itself. This first stage is the thesis, which passes into the second stage known as the antithesis, whereby a conflict between the two ensues but evolves into a third stage—the synthesis—where the duality is transcended: the positive attributes in the thesis and antithesis are retained to form a higher state. World history progresses according to this rhythm, or so Hegel believed, a constant dialectical play unfolding stage by stage, emanating bits of reality (our moments of human experience) that eventually form the complete manifestation of Absolute Spirit (Truth, ultimate reality, the total sphere of what can be known), which for Hegel was the only teleological view that could possibly reveal the underlying purpose of history.

These concepts constitute the heart of his magnum opus The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807); these, and the meditations on the stages of human consciousness—from egoistic desires to the orbit of reason, wherein the individual grasps that the Absolute is not a personal deity but the totality of Truth, manifested dialectically in finite minds throughout human history. If we compare Hegel's vision of dialectic with that of Doctor No's, we find one striking difference. For Doctor No, his present state as a supreme villain is the Absolute to which his early life unfolded in stages to achieve. Thus, in his speech, he recounts his development into a higher state, ultimately attaining freedom in absolute power. There is an omnipotent quality within him that he proudly asserts when he insists that Bond explain the reason behind the agent's investigation of the island:

‘And now Mister Bond of the Secret Service, let us tell each other our secrets. . . .’ He paused, ‘I shall do so. But you must do the same. If you do not, these,’ he pointed the claw at his eyes, ‘will know that you are lying.’ Doctor No brought the steel claw delicately in front of each eye and tapped the centre of each eyeball. Each eyeball in turn emitted a dull ting. ‘These,’ said Doctor No, 'see everything.'  (157)
The Buddha's urna: a
symbolic third eye on his
forehead that represents
his illumination.

So the doctor, now at the end point of his ascendancy, is manifesting, or thinks he's manifesting, the all-seeing eye, the Eye of Providence, the Eye of the World—that age-old notion of inner vision, of higher knowledge, rendered in various mythic images such as the Buddhist urna, a third eye that sees past our trivial universe. But every enlightened being starts from the bottom, so to speak, a sad life that needs to be left behind. For Doctor No, the journey began when he was a measly two-bit gangster in the Chinese Tongs.3 Thus begins his speech, a dramatic narrative of his dialectic, a constant movement where each stage in his life builds on the previous one, emphasizing his ascent. There are passages of Doctor No brooding about his birth as an encumbrance to his reckless father—a German Methodist missionary who abandoned him—and the painful childhood of lacking parental love, and even more lines of the doctor talking about his start in crime, his joyous involvement in murders, burglaries, and arson, noting that it was all in revolt against the father figure who betrayed him. It's also got him recalling his promotion, at age 30, to treasurer of the Hip Sings, one of the powerful Tongs in America, and recounting his theft of one million dollars in gold from the treasury and how the Tong members caught up with him and, in a warm reunion, tortured him throughout the night to learn where he hid the gold. “‘Then, when they could not break me,’” he explains, “‘they cut off my hands to show that the corpse was that of a thief’” (163). The corpse was meant to be left with a bullet in the heart; but Doctor No goes on delivering the self-puffery, describing how his bizarre physiology—a man born with his heart at the right side of his body—not only saved him but reinforced his individuality: he is “‘the one man in a million’” (163) with such physical uniqueness.

The doctor attests his survival from the entire ordeal to a tremendous will to live. But Snelling wittily speculates that quite a bit of luck came into play because somebody probably discovered the doctor in his hideaway just after his guests had left. Then it was sheer luck to have a body that could sustain a night of so much pain, a body that could overcome massive shock to itself, considering the large losses of blood from amputation of both hands (without anesthetic) and a bullet through the chest at close range (Snelling 108). In my view, we can also add the luck of having superb health insurance that covers months of intense hospitalization without a glitch, as well as the luck of having healthcare providers who never questioned why Doctor No insisted on having those gruesome metal hooks for prostheses. Anyway, the recovery is a kind of rebirth, propelling him to change course in yet another stage in his development.

World War II was looming. For Doctor No, it was the best of times to recreate himself. His speech covers how he sensed imminent inflation and thus invested much of his million in an envelope of rare stamps. With his fortune secure, his next step was to change his appearance, to be incognito, to reach a state of anonymity and essentially disappear. He goes on describing the elaborate plastic surgery and weeks of traction on his spine to make himself taller, and rhapsodizing about his existential transformation by changing his name to Julius No, an amalgam of his father's first name and the No for “‘my rejection of him and of all authority.’” It's quite the nifty segue into his next stage: studying medicine in Milwaukee, of all places, where apparently “‘there are no Chinamen.’” It's unclear where exactly he enrolled but the academic world was the suitable place to hide—and to study “‘the human body and the human mind,'" an endeavor necessary to master the flesh in order to reach his next goal, the state of “‘total security from physical weaknesses, from material dangers and from the hazards of living’” (164).

Desire and the Human Passion for Mastery

In the U.S. Penguin edition,
the image of Doctor No is
based on the Daliesque
surrealism that Bond recalls
in Chapter 14.

Through it all, the force behind his development is passion—burning desire, obsession, a mania for power. This is signaled at the dinner prelude when the doctor admires Bond's precise instructions for the famous vodka martini:

Doctor No gave his thin smile an extra crease. ‘I see you are also a man who knows what he wants. On this occasion your desires will be satisfied. Do you not find that it is generally so? When one wants a thing one gets it? That is my experience.’  (156)

It's a topic that excites him, and we find him rambling about the nature of human action, namely that anything can be achieved so long as an intense determination for accomplishment exists. He cites Archimedes's aphorism “‘Give me a fulcrum and I will move the world,’” emphasizing that such an action will only succeed “‘if the desire to move the world is there’” (157). Put another way, the desires of people, their personal aims, their drive to satisfy their needs—these are all the underlying forces of human action, Doctor No is saying, a notion that's straight out of the Hegelian playbook.4 He reaches an elitist expression of the idea when he proclaims his membership in the pantheon of great men, all of whom share the unique attribute of having intense mania to achieve their goals:

‘All the greatest men are maniacs. They are possessed by a mania which drives them forward towards their goal. The great scientists, the artists, the philosophers, the religious leaders—all maniacs. What else but a blind singleness of purpose could have given focus to their purpose? Mania, my dear Mister Bond, is as priceless as genius. Dissipation of energy, fragmentation of vision, loss of momentum, the lack of follow-through—these are the vices of the herd.’  (160)

And so he's drawn a line between the superiority of great men and the mediocrity of the common herd. Mania, the relentless drive to achieve goals, is the business of the greatest men that the masses simply cannot meddle in. He reaches the penultimate dramatic section of the speech, emphasizing his self-affirmation and declaring adamantly that his mania for power is, ultimately, the foundation of all reality, which draws again the picture of himself as absolute truth:

‘. . . . I am, as you correctly say, a maniac—a maniac, Mister Bond, with a mania for power. That’—the black holes glittered blankly at Bond through the contact lenses—‘is the meaning of my life. That is why I am here. That is why you are here. That is why here exists.’  (160)

Although this first part of the speech encompasses his rise to power and touches upon various philosophical ideas, the main tendency of Doctor No's thought is nonetheless unmistakable: it is to breakdown any limitations that hinder him; likewise, to dominate things, abolish them, or subvert them in some way by overpowering anything he encounters; in brief, the tendency of his thought is negation. The cold, sterile tone of his oration only emphasizes that what he aims for is systematic domination; and in this process, negation comes into play: we cancel, erase, the existence of others when we override, dominate, and master them. Remarkably, although the speech makes no explicit reference to Hegel, we find ourselves staring at what seems to be an inference to the German philosopher's view on human conflict: a “struggle unto death,” as Hegel called it, derives from the complexity of human passions where each is willing to risk his life to override the other and, more importantly, to relish the feeling of power that comes from the domination. The outcome is universal conflict: the world is a battlefield, an outlook that propels Doctor No to be ever vigilant. He cites the first principle of Clausewitz (a military tactician and something of a Hegelian thinker, as some researchers have suggested) as the foundation for his sovereignty:

‘Mister Bond, power is sovereignty. Clausewitz's first principle was to have a secure base. From there one proceeds to freedom of action. Together that is sovereignty. I have secured these things and much besides. . . . The world is too public. These things can only be secured in privacy. . . . And how do I possess that power, that sovereignty? Through privacy. Through the fact that nobody knows. Through the fact that I have to account to no one.’  (161)

Carl von Clausewitz

In other words, in a world of warring egos, it's best to be on the defensive and place oneself under cover. One need not celebrate, flaunt, the possession of power. Best to keep it from the public eye. The doctor's surname now takes on layers of meaning: aside from signifying his rejection of his father and of all authority, it connotes negation—the negation of others through domination; the negation of himself through privacy, anonymity. A new image of the man and what his absolute rule means to the world begin to appear:

‘Then, Mister Bond, from that secure base, armoured even against the casual slings and arrows of the world. I would proceed to the achievement of power—the power, Mister Bond, to do unto others what had been done unto me, the power of life and death, the power to decide, to judge, the power of absolute independence from outside authority.’  (165)

It is, we see, a manifesto of conquest, declaring the world's subservience to Doctor No's supremacy. It's also quite melodramatic in its allusions to Shakespeare and the New Testament, which only amplifies the doctor's kitschy self-grandiose image of having god-like power. It is, of course, Hamlet who, in a tormented state, contemplates “Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (3.1. 57-58) as he roams Elsinore Castle, struggling to grasp a world he finds perplexing. Doctor No is saying, though, that he's much more prepared to deal with the world outside his island garrison, thanks to the feeling of increasing power that he derives from having a secure base. Moreover, as he soars higher and higher in the rapture of his vanity, he twists the aphorism of Jesus (“Do to others as you would have them do to you” [Luke 6:31]) in his insistence that his power will enable him “‘to do unto others what had been done unto me,’” a remark that suggests he's not only renounced Christianity but that he sees himself as something of an Antichrist, completely amoral in his principle of utter self-interest and determined to inflict suffering in the world without any remorse.5

Lordship and Subjugation

The sense of this passage also echoes yet again Hegel, and whether Fleming is nodding to the philosopher in some way we will never know. All we are left with are the words of the erudite Doctor No, words that reflect a central theme in Hegelian thought, by my reading at any rate, certainly a reading that defies conventions, let the literary experts go to blazes. For the thrust of what the doctor is babbling is the dichotomy of lordship and subjugation, which Hegel expounded about 150 years earlier as the grim basis of human relations: what the self wants, more than anything, is the profound gratification of having the other recognize his superiority and, in this process, his selfhood requires another self to look at him, an existential state that forces him to keep the other alive and make a slave of him.6 As Hegel observes, “one is the independent consciousness whose essential nature is to be for itself, the other is the dependent consciousness whose essential nature is simply to live or to be for another. The former is the lord, the other is bondsman. . . . In both these moments the lord achieves his recognition through another consciousness”  (115-116).

Hegel's masterpiece is translated
as The Phenomenology of Spirit or
The Phenomenology of Mind because
of the ambiguity of the German word
Geist. The book ranks as one of the
great works of Western civilization.
The pedantic Doctor No most likely
read it during his stint in academia.

Listening to the doctor's ramblings, we're always reminded that he sees human contact in terms of a power situation in which he can only function as the one who seeks to gain ascendancy over others. It's certainly a big sop to his ego to rule his lucrative guano factory as a despot. His exploitation of his labor force is evident when he recounts how he lured workers with a wonderful benefits package:

‘It was 1942. The simple Cuban and Jamaican labourer was earning ten shillings a week. I tempted a hundred of them over to the island by paying them twelve shillings a week. With guano at fifty dollars a ton I was well placed. But on one condition—that the wages remained constant. I ensured that by isolating my community from world inflation.’  (165)

He goes on describing the pleasant work environment, emphasizing draconian control by enforcing harsh methods from time to time, methods that he doesn't care to describe in detail, although the implication is that various forms of torture are used. As part of his company's growth, he created a layer of middle-management to ensure maximum productivity from the workers:

‘I brought in a dozen Chinese negroes with their families to act as overseers. They receive a pound a week per man. They are tough and reliable. On occasion I had to be ruthless with them, but they soon learned.’  (166)

So the guano factory is quite the idyll of a king, wherein Doctor No is lord and master ruling over his fearful minions. Not surprisingly, he sees the geopolitical landscape in the same manner: his primary scheme of sabotaging American missile tests opens the door to totalitarian control as he raises himself above governments and manipulates them. He's managed to lure Soviet Russia as his principle supporter, but he's reached out to Communist China, whose leaders, eager not to be left behind, are prepared to pay more than the chaps at the Kremlin. Again, this is another variation of his impulse for mastery. Even the doctor's imprisonment of Bond and the banter that the two have throughout the dinner scene all point to the same lordship-subjugation interplay, with Bond completely subjugated to the doctor's whims, especially in the finale concerning the obstacle course that the agent is forced to endure. It's only near the end when the tables are turned, so to speak, and this struggle unto death between the two changes in Bond's favor. The fact that Fleming has Doctor No buried underneath a massive pile of guano suggests the author's wry contempt for the intense hubris that shapes the criminal mind.

Maybe the most curious thing about this villain is that he's such a repulsive ego-maniac that he helps us not to empathize with his plight, despite some human drama in his backstory. Sure, after his father abandoned him, he fell into an abyss of despair. I am not underrating the emotional effect that such misery might typically be expected to produce, but its effect on this pseudo Fu Manchu was certainly very devastating indeed, especially considering that the abandonment was the catalyst for his struggle against all authority. In other words, it's not that the doctor's misery isn't understandable; but what makes us emotionally disconnected from him is his persistent narcissistic view that his superiority over the world is the only cure for his despair. Again, Fleming (with tongue-in-cheek) makes it plain that such audacity of the criminal mind is ludicrous nonsense, and he clearly wants us to chuckle with him at the guano imagery in Doctor No's fall from grandeur. Although the scene is ridiculous, it doesn't mar the tone of the novel either. If anything, it reinforces the futility of a human being in his evolution into a monstrosity. More to the point still would be to recall one of Bond's observations during the dinner prelude. In the midst of Doctor No's vain speech, the agent senses the "artificiality of the scene inside the room," and the moment suddenly seems absurd to him as he remembers they are underwater and that just outside the spectacular armored glass wall, lurking in the depths of the sea, is something else, something indifferent to Doctor No's speech, something tranquil in it majestic force:

Even the drama of [the moment], the danger, were fragile things compared with the progress of the tulip shell up the glass outside. Supposing the glass burst. Supposing the stresses had been badly calculated, the workmanship faulty. Supposing the sea decided to lean a little more heavily against the window.  (162)

The many faces of Doctor No.
Top left: Line art sketch from the 1960 Daily
Express strip adaptation.
Bottom left: From the cover of the Semic
Press AB comic book.
Right: The Macmillan edition depicts the
villain in Fu Manchu garb.

In delving into this almost metaphysical inquiry, Bond, who at this moment is frightened and powerless in Doctor No's clutches, glimpses a haunting sense of insignificance. That something beyond the glass wall—whether it's our human folly or the dictates of nature or some other ineffable circumstance beyond our control—is greater than ourselves, greater than our loftiness, and always persistent in its utter aloofness from our ambitions. It's a clever thematic moment in a novel stuffed with some medical themes—we have, after all, the famous neurologist, Sir James Molony, discussing the mystery of pain with M near the beginning of the novel; we have Bond's mission in Jamaica (a cushy assignment, as M originally thought) based on a convalescence of sorts after the lethal poisoning that the agent sustained in his previous adventure;7 and our villain, of course a doctor himself, went through a battery of medical treatments to recover from a gruesome torture. In context to this thematic pattern, Bond's brief introspection offers a cure to the despair of a Julius No: our humanity is easily lost unless we remember our finitude and to cling to that little bit of humility that keeps us from taking on a battling spirit. Yet wrathful, rebellious, at war with the world, Doctor No's misery is obvious when he became an angry young radical as he expounds in his speech. Since that moment in his life, never once does he realize that he's so miserable because he's an asshole.



1 The term Bondologist, so I gather, comes from the Scandinavian expression for an expert in all things Bond—at least that is the etymology asserted in the entry for Umberto Eco at FactIndex.com (http://www.fact-index.com/u/um/umberto_eco.html). Eco, you'll recall, published the erudite piece “Narrative Structures in Fleming” in 1965. At the time, there was only a smattering of Bondologists with a tilt toward scholarly research on Fleming. Preceding Eco, we have works from the aforementioned O.F. Snelling (007 James Bond: A Report, 1964) and Kingsley Amis (The James Bond Dossier, 1965), both witty overviews, with touches of literary criticism, of the Fleming tales. Since the revival of the 007 film series with GoldenEye in 1995 and the Fleming centenary in 2008, there has been renewed interest in the late author, resulting in something of a publication zeal for books that attempt to explore his works seriously. My bookshelf currently holds (in no particular order) Henry Chancellor's James Bond The Man and His World: The Official Companion to Ian Fleming's Creation (2005); The Politics of James Bond (2001) by Jeremy Black; James Bond and Philosophy (edited by James B. South and Jacob M. Held, 2006); Ian Fleming & James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007 (edited by Edward P. Comentale, Stephen Watt, and Skip Willman, 2005); The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader (edited by Christoph Linder, 2003); Ian Fleming, the latest biography by Andrew Lycett (1995); Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories (2006) by John Griswold; James Bond's London: A Reference Guide to Locations (2001) by Gary Giblin; Ben Macintyre's For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond (2008); and an assortment of books chronicling the 007 films. Granted, these are not exactly occupying the heavenly sphere of Joycean scholarship; but, as the saying goes, an embarrassment of riches. My own very small contribution to “Fleming studies” has been to publish this web site with its handful of not-so lofty erudite articles—read at your own peril.
2 Professor Dent survives the various drafts and transforms into a minor henchman for Doctor No in the 1962 film version.
3 The Tongs were the Chinese mafia.
4 Hegel emphasized in his Phenomenology of Spirit that people are driven to action by their wills to satisfy their selfish wants and interests, and it's these human drives that fuel the movement of history. More precisely, the Absolute is apparently quite clever and cunning to use the relentless force of human passion as its means to achieve its end in the dialectic progression. Hegel called this the Cunning of Reason: the subtle way for the all-glorious Absolute to use humanity's egoistic desires as a medium to unfold and reveal itself in the movement of history.
5 Then again, Doctor No proclaims to have rejected not only his father but all authority—which suggests he has no respect whatsoever for traditional structures of society—be they economic, political, or religious—and will attack and tear them down. Doctor No is your garden-variety nihilist with some madness thrown in. Another way of looking at his name: No signifies his devotion to nihilism.
6 In the realm of fiction, this Hegelian idea becomes a clever plot device. Why does Doctor No delay in killing Bond? When will any villain, for that matter, ever learn to shoot Bond and just be done with the agent? Well, one can argue something along the lines of this Hegelian concept: as a megalomaniac who savors the feeling of being lord and master, the villain gains consummate gratification from Bond's entrapment and helplessness. It's certainly a delightful moment for Doctor No to have an audience for his speech: “‘I shall enjoy telling you the story of one of the most remarkable men in the world’” (159), he tells Bond. In brief, the villain needs Bond to live just a little longer to relish seeing his supremacy through the agent's eyes. Thus, in the confrontation between Bond and villain, the villain delays the moment because he cannot be aware of himself without Bond serving as a mirror for him.
7 In the previous novel From Russia, With Love, Fleming had Bond “killed off” at the very end. Rosa Klebb, the hideous SMERSH operative, manages to stab our hero with the poison-coated blade that juts from her shoe.

List of Illustrations

“The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu book cover.” Online Image. The Mystery
of Dr. Fu-Manchu. 1 June 2010 <http://www.njedge.net/~knapp/Mys_Fu.htm>.
“Captain Nemo views the octopus.” Online Image. 20000 leagues under the sea -
The Legend of the Giant Octopus. 13 March 2010
“Hegel Collage.” Personal graphic by author. 10 June 2010.
Note: the dialectic diagram is based on Rolf Kenneth Aristos's illustration
(accessed: 10 June 2010).
“Doctor No book cover, Penguin edition.” Online Image. Pulp International. 12 May 2010
“The Buddha's urna.” Online Image. raincoaster media. 12 May 2010
“Carl von Clausewitz.” Online Image. Past Tense. 12 May 2010
“Manuscript of The Phenomenology of Spirit.” Online Image. Wikipedia. 12 May 2010
“The Many Faces of Doctor No.” Images edited and arranged by author.
Top left: line art sketch from 007 Magazine. James Bond British Fan Club, 1989: 17.
Bottom right: Comic artwork archived at Illustrated 007. 14 May 2010
Right: from the 1958 Macmillan first edition of Doctor No, archived at Illustrated 007. 14 May 2010

Works Cited

Altman, Mark A.   “Writing Bond.”   Cinefantastique   July 1989: 22.   Print.
Fleming, Ian.   Doctor No.   1958.   New York: Berkley, 1982.   Print.
Hegel, G.W.F.   Phenomenology of Spirit.   Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.   Print.
Luke. New American Bible,   9 Dec. 2002   Web.   4 May 2010.   <http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/luke/luke6.htm>.
Snelling, O.F.   007 James Bond: A Report.   New York: Signet, 1964.   Print.
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