Saturday, April 10, 2010


Wish Fulfillment

Kingsley Amis, The James Bond Dossier (New York: New American Library, 1965), pp. 34-35 (footnote omitted):
There was a female critic, in fact a Critic (on BBC radio), who remarked apropos of Thunderball that by its use the reader could have his "adolescent inferiority feelings compensated for." This was clearly felt to be a bad thing, though I should have thought that if Thunderball did manage to do this service, the book would be praiseworthy rather than blameworthy on that ground. The notion has grown up that wish fulfillment is somehow immature and therefore suspect. I can't see this myself. I think wish fulfillment is a common and normal human activity. I find self-advertised maturity, pride in maturity, at least equally suspect. No adult ought to feel adult all the time.

But this is a large topic. Perhaps the best shortcut out of it for now is to put forward the works of Homer as a far more compendious compensation-manual than those of Mr. Fleming. In Homer we can enjoy compensation for inferiority in bravery via Achilles, in fertility via Priam, in toughness via Ajax, in nobility via Hector, in cunning via Odysseus. What about that episode where Odysseus, cast away naked on the shore, is awakened and cared for by the beautiful young princess Nausicaa and her attendant maidens? Blatant virility-impairment-refurbishment-substitution-syndrome.

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