A clean, well-lit place to vent
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Reading the comparisons of Jeff with Ian Fleming reminds me of Ellery Queen, a pair of writers who took the name of their fictional detective as their joint nom de plume to give the character verisimilitude. A more obscure relevant example is Peter Dickinson, not as well known as Ellery Queen in the US but one of my favorite writers, who sold movie rights to his excellent book The Flight of Dragons to Rankin/Bass, who decided to make a cartoon of an entirely different novel, keeping only the name -- but adding a character named Peter Dickinson! Anyway, there are lots of precedents for Jeff-the-writer. It's Jeff-the-secret-agent who's a misfit.
Jeff has never been my favorite character, but I have to say I'm admiring the way he's handling these interviews with such aplomb.
I worked for Ian Fleming. He would find the misinformation here very amusing. During World War II, Fleming worked from 1939 to 1943 or 1944 at the Admiralty in London as a personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Royal Navy. In 1944 he briefly ran a British Commando unit; he was a planner, not an active field commander.
I'm impressed with Jeff. He reminds me of French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy. Built on nothing but the sheer belief, against all evidence, in himself and what he has achieved, and will achieve (nothing, really). And in the end (Henri-Levy has already done this, Jeff is starting) it is an achievement to be a player in the media circus. Dreams, reality, spin, bluff, truth -- who cares, as long as somebody out there in front of a computer or a TV will listen to you pontificate. And if you can make a living out of it, you've succeeded. Maybe Jeff's dad will be more successful with his blog too, as "the Red Rascal's father." Kudos for you for the characters' facial expressions; Roland's hostile, and Mark is amused.
While still in high-school (I graduated in 1969) I recall reading a general statement about how worthless today's youth are. It sounded just like something my dad and granddad would have said. Then, after being completely incensed at the audacity, I got to the end and found it attributed to Aristotle. After looking at the compare-and-contrast efforts on this forum re Jeff Redfern (aka Red Rascal or Sorkh Razil) and Ian Fleming, I have to wonder how much things have changed. The only difference I can see is that while Ian Fleming was a real-live-person, today's youth doesn't have a real-live Jeff Redfern. Is it just possible that today's youth are finally too mature to have a real-live bigger-than-life hero like James Bond and the Red Rascal? Or is there a real-live Jeff Redfern waiting in the wings to be revealed?
Jeff's adventures are more than just fantasy. After all, he did (accidentally) blow up a terrorist ammunitions dump, shoot down a (friendly) military aircraft, rappel (disastrously) from a chopper into a besieged palace, and was kidnapped by a couple of (clueless) insurgents. The mere fact that he has traveled overseas is more adventure than most Americans will ever experience.
Paradigm. Yes! Yes! Jeff casually kills this poor suffering word. I recall when it made me suffer, trying to memorize the paradigms of Latin. Thomas Kuhn regretted his rash redefinition and today is smiling with relief from his grave.
Ian Fleming did think he was James Bond. 007 was Fleming's fantasy life, and they shared much in common -- cards, golf, travel, fast cars, good food and wine, personal charm, intelligence service, and womanizing. If Jeff becomes another Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy (and I hope he does), it will be interesting to see how his experience illuminates the publishing industry.
Today’s episode, where Jeff says it’s not always clear what is real, and embraces the unknown, of course sounds hilarious. But consider the following quote from Jacques Derrida:
There is no unity or absolute source of the myth. The focus or the source of the myth is always shadows and virtualities which are elusive, unactualizable, and non-existent in the first place. Everything begins with the structure, the configuration and relationship. The discourse on this acentric structure, the myth, cannot itself have an absolute subject, or an absolute center…. In this context, therefore, it is necessary to forego scientific or philosophical discourse, to renounce the episteme which absolutely requires … that we go back to the center, the source. In opposition to epistemic discourse structural discourse on myth — mythological discourse — must itself become mythomorophic.
Those readers who have the patience to sort out the above quote will realize that Derrida is saying pretty much the same thing that Jeff is; only Jeff is more understandable. The odd thing is that adults in academia, including myself, make a good living writing such nonsense as Derrida did. (Yes, I’m afraid his ghost lives on.) What’s even stranger is that Derrida used to hold forth on such life and death issues as mutually assured self-destruction during the Cold War. I’d be interested to learn how Jeff’s ideas on that subject compare with Derrida’s.
It may be that Jeff doesn't get the fact that people see his book as fiction, but he seems to be on track to getting rich and popular with readers. I get the feeling that on some level he knows he's daydreaming, but if people lionize and enrich him I wouldn't be too sorry for him.
When composing fiction all writers become, are experiencing, the character they are creating. When we read the story we are drawn in to experience the adventure too. Jeff is a marketers dream. He is willing to share the book's reality with his readers outside its covers, adding credence to the Red Rascal adventure. Becca is savy to encourage this fantansy transference.
Ian Fleming, for all practical purposes, was James Bond. He was with the Special Operations Executive during World War II, Churchill's "dirty tricks" squad (along with Christopher "Count Duuku" Lee, BTW). Most of his wartime activities are still classified, but we know that, unlike Jeffrey, Fleming was a real, effective covert operator.
Jeff is a boy who is insists on operating as a video game avatar in the real world and on transmuting reality into a fantasy world. Even though George Bush didn't know video from voodoo, he was gaming in a similar way when he and his teenage pals in the White House took the most powerful military machine on earth out for a joyride in Iraq.
Ian Fleming was James Bond. He was a decorated commando for British Intelligence during WWII and based many of the stories on events drawn from his own experience, and many of the characters on his colleagues (and enemies). Even some of his book titles were drawn from plans he drew up for various missions during that time.
Jeff doesn't get the joke. He hasn't realized that Becca sees through him and that the book is being published and marketed as fiction. It's as if Ian Fleming thought he actually was James Bond.
The Jeff sequences, while crushingly funny, always make me wince a little bit. They always carry a scent of generational conflict: 'What's wrong with the kids these days?'
"You'd make it out to 'cash.' As many have." The line of our times.
I'm curious to see if Mark learns that Jeff is Joanie's son. It's always interesting to see how GBT intertwines characters' lives, with the reader being more aware than the characters how few degrees of separation there are.
Blowback is a wonderful feature. It makes me realise how many others have been watching Doonesbury as long and as religiously as I have. It's an incredible body of work; there can't be many others with the depth and breadth of understanding of their country and society that GBT has. Trudeau for president.
The revulsion with Jeff is because he's achieved an entirely different level of self-obsession. Look at what happened in Berzerkistan: He helps to airlift a dictator to safety. Jeff isn't just guilty of being young and foolish, he's guilty of knowing better and doing the wrong thing anyway. He is neither quaint nor excusable.