Bond, James Bond

Its true, I am!
It's true, I am!

There is a classic scene in many spy films and novels during which, face to face with his nemesis, and surrounded by onlookers, the protagonist is asked: “So, Mr. Bond, what is it that you do exactly?” The protagonist – in this case, Bond – then replies: “Why, I’m a spy!” at which point all those in the room, including himself, break into raucous laughter at such a preposterous declaration. (Is my memory faulty, or does this not happen in the main poker scene in Casino Royale?) The irony, of course, is that he’s told the truth. The truth has the appearance of a fiction.

Only humans, in this respect, can be spies. There are, of course, many animals – like the killdeer, for instance – who can feign injury in order to protect their young by luring away a predator, or to attract prey. But this is simply a case of doing something false, behind which there is a ‘truth’. No animal, unlike Bond, can emit a truth which has the appearance of a falsity. That is the unique and dubious gift of ‘00’s around the world, and, more generally, of humankind.

(Inspired by several passages throughout the work of Slavoj Žižek)


3 thoughts on “Bond, James Bond

  1. Carl Hodgetts says:

    This is a brief but interesting blog. There is little to no evidence of animals using deception in a lab setting. There is, however, quite a lot of anecdotal evidence from naturalistic observations (like the one you describe). The debate is really about whether animals deceive in the same way as humans, or are they merely displaying deception-like behaviour that lacks all the key components (like a representation of the beliefs of others). I think I agree with you too Dan – this sort of deception and perhaps deception in general is reserved only for humankind. I also find it hard to imagine how an animal could project a truth as a falsity without a more advanced language system as only language permits one to refer beyond the actual physical instantiation of events and/or objects. An animal, in order to display a falsity as truth, would need to act out the truth – making it true I guess…If you get me?! Keep ’em coming old chap…


    1. Daniel Hartley says:


      Yes, I totally get you and I agree. What tends to get lost in popular empirical reflections on humans and animals is just what a radical effect our linguistic capacities have on our entire being in the world. There’s another, slightly different example, that Žižek gives: lovers’ ‘sincere lies’. E.g. when I say to my wife ‘You’re the most beautiful, the most generous, and the most intelligent woman in the whole world,’ then – literally – I’m lying, but I mean it sincerely. It’s a nice example for expressing that what we love in people is not the series of predicates that we list when someone asks us ‘What is it you like about her?’ (sexy, funny, kind etc.) but that which is in the person both more and less than any set of predicates we could utter.

      Might write tomorrow’s blog about that actually…cheers for the comment! Really good stuff!


  2. Dan Hallissey says:

    Well maybe its not lying as such, but its certainly sneaky, the cuckoo will push eggs out of the nests of other birds, and lay its own there, so that the (somewhat shortsighted?) mother will hatch and rear the greedy young cuckoos. Hence the word cuckold

    By the way Dan, as much as I’m enjoying these blogs and thoughts of yours, it strikes me that perhaps you ought to be doing ‘proper’ work, no essays for a while? Or avoiding a really big one?

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