Friday, March 25, 2016

Le Carre and the Ultimate Spy Novel

I think of John Le Carre as one of the more interesting spy novel authors of our time. His early work, at least. I fully understand his anger with the international status quo of  today, but his current work seems all too invested in an outcome [1] as well as his apparent raging without saying anything new. [2]

But there's another favorite spy novelist of mine called X. X has written some of the best spy novels in the world before stopping all that and becoming one of the most hated graffiti artists known today.

And I mean hated. 

Though X's graffiti has the same political direction as his novels; both were text-based, but one earned X jail-time while the one with covers earned him money. And that X gave up the latter for the former, makes this a wholly unreal story. After all, he was 50 years old, what was he rebelling against? 

I had the luck to meet X in a dusty cafe in Jordan before his untimely demise [3]. I asked him that question: why give up on the novels? He paused, mumbled something about the dough of society, that spies in our midst stretched that dough, and if there were too many spies, among other pressures, that dough would be stretched beyond repair. It would fall apart.

I wasn't sure how that mattered. He replied that the novels were allowing such a world to thrive. I left soon after, angry that I'd spoken to him, that I'd broken the membrane between text and author—profaning both in the process. I put his madness down to too much success.

And yet the next day I bought his book of graffiti. It contained all his work. It was mainly simple slogans: die on feet, etc, etc but each letter was made of minute text of related short stories or mini pics. I was impressed. Nevertheless, that meeting stuck in my mind, and after his death I hoped that someone would write his biography for I wanted to know what really changed his outlook on life.

[1] Note that I'm aware this goes completely against my previous statement of knowing books without politics aren't possible, but bear with me. I suppose the complaint isn't about the politics in his current books but rather what one is able to represent.

[2] Again, I'm questioning tactics rather than politics. 

[3] That in itself was a tragedy of epic proportions: X soon had a warrant for his arrest with multiple international agencies hunting him down (known sedition artist, terrorist, they said... you know such organizations, never looking at the world's problems, only worried about made to look bad). 
He must have been scared, but no one expected what happened next: body parts were soon found next to his work. The agencies claimed this as proof that he was taking innocent hostages (though later it would come to light that they had known the entire time that it was his DNA, long after the media didn't care). He was found shortly thereafter dead from blood loss—yes those were his parts.  

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