Ian Fleming — Master of the Occult?

In March of 2008, best-selling author Philip Gardiner published The Bond Code: The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond, a fascinating deconstruction of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels by their occult properties. Doing extensive research into Fleming’s life, Gardiner shows the future thriller writer as a youth awash in [Carl] Jungian psychology and Rosicrucian lore. Carefully combing the Bond novels for their occult signifiers — Gnostic, alchemical, numerological, and mystic — Gardiner makes a convincing case that Fleming was heavily leavening his 007 saga with clues and codes for the more adept on his readers to decipher.

The book is well worth your attention, and is available through Amazon.com and other bookstores.

What we want to direct your attention to here, however, is a really terrific interview Gardiner did on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, in this case guest-hosted by the intrepid George Knapp. Gardiner gets very deep into his subject matter here, and lets fly with scads of interesting facts, factoids, observations, and theories. He’s a very good story teller, and he relates the World War II tale of the (in)famous Ian Fleming/Rudolf Hess/Aleister Crowley connection in a quite entertaining manner. If you’re a James Bond fan with a sort of mystical/historical/mysterious bent of mind, you’ll find this to be essential listening. Some good soul has posted the whole thing on the YouTube; it’s a 10 part series, but it’s only mostly the first half that’s pertinent.

Listen up! You might learn something.

In an amusing bit of synchronicity, today’s Telegraph is carrying an article in their “Books” section about Aleister Crowley. It talks of how the infamous magician was the inspiration for numerous villainous characters in novels, including James Bond’s first adversary, LeChiffre. There’s also a brief mention of the Crowley/Fleming/Rudolf Hess story, albeit with some factual inaccuracies. At any rate, go check out The fictional lives of Aleister Crowley, if you have further interest in this sort of thing.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks, Deborah!

    I too was struck with some of Gardiner’s factual errors, but otherwise found his thesis really, really interesting. In my case, he might be preaching to the choir: I’ve long viewed the character James Bond as a mythopoeic hero; a single-combat-warrior that I usually equated with Beowulf. Some of Gardiner’s Arthurian connections seem a little strained, but his view of Bond in Rosicrucian terms frankly startled me. (I’ve got some reading to do!)

    I’ve always gotten a kick out of the Crowley/Fleming connection, and wish there were a more definitive source for the story. Still and all, it gives me the giggles.

    — Paul

  2. […] “Ian Fleming — Master of theOccult?,” HMSSweblog, May 30, 2009 […]

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