James Bond Syndrome

He was born in the 60s. In the white heat of technology; you’d never had it so good, in the economic miracle. Everything was possible. And he was born first. Everything was for him. He was born a boy. His grandparents had known hunger. There was always enough for him.

As young teenager in the 70s he and his friends went to the matinée films. Especially James Bond. He could do everything: look cool, fence, shoot, ride, dive, fight, smile, gamble, charm. He always won. He always got laid.

He had broad interests and was easily bored. He did OK, working in the arts and media, which he loved. He followed the Kantian idea of doing the thing ‘as an end in itself’. But the idea of infinite possibility haunted him. In some senses it led him to overestimate the real possibilities. Not just in terms of his own abilities, but more particularly in appraising realistically what the world would let him do. What the world would let someone in his position do.

Perhaps the James Bond Syndrome made him take foolish risks with his career. But its real sting lay in the huge discrepancy it threw up between what he had felt was possible and what he actually achieved. Next to ‘everything’, ‘anything’ looks like ‘nothing’.

This was the real danger. It was a kind of bi-polar condition, although not pathological, just human. He see-sawed between the euphoria of endless possibility and the inadequacy of his actual life, between the infinite and finite, between being and nothingness.

Echoes of Kierkegaard and Sartre appear here for a reason, that reason being that this is an existential scenario. To be is to have to choose. The choice is theoretically infinite, but on making it, reality exposes our weakness, our mortality, our limits and those of being in the world.