Plausible deniability rant

August 26, 2012

I discovered the game Who loves Gary Oldman the most? in a secret society known for strict rules and loyalty to a good cause.

But I didn’t like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – how could any of those people be pleased with themselves for catching a mole after paying that price?

I don’t like spy stories much anyways, because the level of violence involved in political torture is extreme to the point of being an absurd version of the grotesque, consistently pointless and disgusting in its outcomes. No political agenda could justify any of it, and oddly enough, the spies in this story seem to be aware of that problem. They seem willing to trade on it by way of being into the game, aficionados of game theory for its own sake.

That’s believable, sadly. But for me not really an enjoyable suspense genre when done with realism. The Living Daylights is more my idea of a good time.

Still. You can’t say no to this trench coat.

But I do like the argument one character makes, that fanaticism is a sign of struggle with a secret doubt. I just question the prevalence of fanaticism among professional liars. Except, perhaps, as an aesthetic choice arrived at through terror of the moral alternative – private ambiguity about where one’s own loyalties lie at heart.

Insulting the CIA’s intelligence is also an American tradition, one that implies spy novels can be classy by way of fictionalization, but that the entertainment value of espionage work as a subject lies largely in satire rather than in drama.

The CIA has been the butt of esoteric jokes about buffoonish attempts at evildoing on the part of our own government for as long as it’s been around. A typical CIA story good for dinner table conversation among international affairs professionals amounts to COINTELPRO-by-accident ending in a military coup instigated by the exact people who were sent to investigate whether or not there was a risk of it being attempted by the people they directed too many leading questions at while “under cover” as far as they could tell, and evidently far enough to create confusion about what they were trying to accomplish at the time.

This is not considered risqué, but for perspective, the military intelligence community distributes pins to retirees saying things like “military intelligence is an oxymoron” that appear to be displayed proudly for evidence of the wit to know it.

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