Thursday, October 23, 2014

Frederick Forsyth: The Afghan, 2006 (Part II)

The Afghan, Frederick Forsyth's 2006 novel, delivers a wild ride, filtered through the very evident scrim of the author's patriarchal, Anglocentric, conservative outlook.

It's very much a man's world that Forsyth focuses on. There are no major female characters in the book. In general terms, it's sexist, but there's no sex. It's James Bond or Clint Eastwood without their "social interests" -- certainly, there are no Bond girls on either side of this rather austere novel.

While reading, I had a strong impression that, via the near-totally omniscient narrator, Forsyth wants nothing more than a quiet return to the height of the British Empire, say between 1860 and 1900. Women seem of little importance in his grand scheme of manly things. Protesters, the general public, news outlets and international organizations are considered annoying nuisances bent on fools' errands. The most important thing to the narrator is security of country -- the United Kingdom above all -- as represented by security agencies and military and police forces.    

Back in 1997, Forsyth admitted: "These days I care only about six things. They are: belief in the Almighty, my country’s sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, the monarchy, preservation of the countryside, and protection of my family." (SagaDecember 1997).

Islamic "Sword Verse" extremists, the villains of The Afghan, dream of a return to the imagined heights of Islamic empire and culture. Turn the clock back a thousand years or more. 

So in The Afghan there are two preferences pitted against each other: go back 100 years (good) or go back 1000 years (bad). In both cases, this is the nature of deep conservatism -- a nostalgia for a past that never was quite as delightful as imagined.*

Finally, the idea of universal entropy or friction: 

"Anyone who has ever been involved in what Kipling called 'the Great Game,' and what James Jesus Angleton of the CIA referred to as the 'wilderness of mirrors,' will surely agree the greatest enemy is the UCU. . . The Unforeseen Cock-Up has probably wrecked more covert missions than treachery or brilliant counterintelligence by the other side. . ." (page 223).

Today's Rune: Possessions. 

*In reverse, the nature of progressive liberalism seems more like nostalgia for an enlightened future that may never come to full fruition. How It Never Was vs. How It Never Will Be, perhaps. 


t said...

Fucking awesome!
I wonder if he thought himself pretty fair and balanced ;)

jodi said...

Erik, I say he factors in the chicks!