bunn (bunn) wrote,

The George Smiley Chameleon-Armadillo Technique

A tenet of my belief is that there is no situation which cannot be interpreted in or illuminated by the light of
1) Le Guin
2) Le Carré
3) Scott Adam's Dilbert cartoons
4) and occasionally Tolkien.

It's a somewhat eclectic set of reference works for life, I am aware...

"... and so I learned first to be a chameleon."

"You mean you sat there burping, you rude toad?"

"No, it's a matter of colour. Chameleons change colour."

"Of course they change colour. They sit on green leaves and go green. Did you go green, toad?"

His fingers ran lightly over the tips of hers.

"Listen, minx, while I explain the Smiley Chameleon-Armadillo technique for the impertinent interviewer." Her face was very close to his and she adored him with her eyes.

"The technique is based on the theory that the interviewer, loving no one so well as himself, will be attracted by his own image. You therefore assume the exact social, temperamental, political and intellectual colour of your inquisitor."

"Pompous toad. But intelligent lover?"

"Silence. Sometimes this method founders against the idiocy or ill-disposition of the inquisitor. If so, become an armadillo."

"And wear linear belts, toad?"

"No, place him in a position so incongruous that you are superior to him. I was prepared for confirmation by a retired bishop. I was his whole flock, and received on one half holiday sufficient guidance for a diocese. But by contemplating the bishop's face, and imagining that under my gaze it became covered in thick fur, I maintained the ascendancy. From then on the skill grew. I could turn him into an ape, get him stuck in sash windows, send him naked to Masonic banquets, condemn him, like the serpent, to go about on his belly .."

"Wicked lover-toad."

... from 'Call for the Dead' - the first of the Smiley books, published 1961.
Tags: books, le carre, spies


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