The essence of espionage is duplicity. A clandestine operation without successful deception is not a clandestine operation. In no other field of human endeavor is the widely denigrated maxim concerning justification of means by ends still held in such high regard. Spooks,” as they are called, deal in the devious; lie, cheat and steal is the name of the game. And it sometimes comes to pass that they prey upon each other for various reasons doubtless considered good in some quarter. In the business, few professionals have more than three close friends. Wise survivors have none. There are exceptions, but it is generally held that even with those who succeed in retiring from the business with reasonable honor and persona intact, it’s not over when it’s over. After all, a trained and experienced unemployed spook is a rare resource and an attractive target. His experience and abilities should not be wasted.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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