I would like to turn your attention to the last portion of the story. The very crux of the spy plot itself (having to create a news headline in order to communicate a signal) is made possible only through a bygone era in which communications (from spy to spy headquarters) could require the type of absurd ingenuity so as to enable such a gut-wrenching event. For me, the question is whether and if a similarly affecting plot could be carried out in modern times. Or have the blanketing forces of space satellites and predator drones, limitless collateral damage, ample but unfocused guilt and a mature (read motionless blob on couch) understanding of the hypocrisy of it all, among other factors (a lifetime of bad film plots) made such genuine feelings, basically or quite nearly impossible? But wait? I was moved? In spite of all. Well perhaps this is because through the lens of history I was able to look back with greater simplicity and pared down focus.

 

But I wonder how much of the power of a JLB plot can indeed be credited to the uniqueness of an earlier spy time with different, more artisanal spy methods. Would I, if I existed back then and read about such developments in the late edition, be as transfixed as I am now? Of course I suspect not. But I also suspect if the stars all aligned properly, I could still manage to end up half way between not excited at all (current news) and completely drooling (reading Borges). This would suggest there is indeed a real change which has occurred over time, and that all this nostalgia is in fact completely justified.

 

On the other hand, surely the precise quality of the writing in general, the initial establishment of atmosphere via delightful obfuscation (of what the heck the story is about), the seductive (and subverted) first person narrative, with its therefore exquisite denouement,  followed immediately with a counterintuitive yet consistent tone of detachment, all have something to do with it.

 

I suppose I would be quite curious to see what JLB could do if he were doing it now, with the crap of today, would he be able to generate the same effect? Some grand conspiracy involving forty thousand dollars and three employees of a noted soft drink maker? A top executive is caught shopping in the wrong place! Wow. The Queen of England is a robot? And the head of Russia isnít! Who knew? Or is it, in fact, completely necessary to be looking back, to a time, which may not at all have been simpler, but which at least seems to have been, just a little. Or I guess we could interview someone who read Borges way back when? See what they say?