I believe in Auric Goldfinger
I believe in Dr. Julius No
I believe in Ernst Stavros Blofeld, Francisco Scaramanga, and Mr. Big
I believe in spectacular failure.
Success is boring. Success means following the rules better than anyone else can follow the rules. Then, when you have won the king’s contest, you can claim the trophy that he gives you. And the king will pet you on the head, lead you off to his pig of a daughter, and let you eat at his table for one night.
But failure, epic failure, grand spectacular failure, is never dull. The King will banish you forever or kill you immediately. His horse faced daughter will be relegated to the dull victor, and you will need to eat what you can find. At worst, you will be dead several years before you planned to be, but at best, you can rule your own kingdom.
Common success requires no ambition, energy, or creativity. It merely requires mimicry, toadying, and big chest for medals.
Winners build nothing. Winners get a pat on the head and a ribbon, then are sent off to a quiet room in the back with the old trophies. James Bond won every contest he entered. He has never walked away broke from a card game, never had a woman refuse him, and never felt his life collapse about him. Bond hides within the cordoroy of convention. He wears the right clothes, drinks the right drinks, and smokes the right brands.
But he has never achieved anything of value; he has built nothing. He has no vision for a better world-instead he is merely an agent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He serves, but does not command.
But the villain, he has given his life for this moment. He dreams of a better world, then sets his life to build that world. From his underwater base, he seeks to end world hunger, nuclear war, or the oppression of the worker. Then, as the rockets launch and the dream becomes real, the coin flip of fate and a lucky, quick talking imp ends it. The villain dies in the final immolation of his better world while 007 sails back to the status quo with another horse faced King’s daughter.
On the villain’s grave, it reads “He Dared to Rule the World.” On Bond’s, it reads “Her served his Queen.”
Bond will eventually lose. Everyone does. Babe Ruth lost, Michael Jordan lost, Alexander lost his last battle, as did Hannibal. American Idol winners fill the used CD racks in malls across America. Victory lasts a day, but failure stretches for years.
Failure has a university, while success has only a bus stop. We study our failures and re-examine our steps. We dip our heads, gather the tools, and begin again a little smarter, a little better equipped, and a little closer to the dream and further from the status quo.
And one final day, we will emerge from our hidden volcano lair to a better world.