Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo And The Author With The Enigmatic Back Story

By Mickey Jhonny

Lisbeth Salander's story, about a 23 year old hacker chic, haunted by a nasty past, in its various renditions, has had electric success for about a decade now. Hey, if you can land Daniel Craig for the U.S. film, you know you're on the money train.

Part of the allure of this pop culture cottage industry - three books, with a fourth on the way, films in both Swedish and English, TV miniseries and graphic novels - generally now known as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (or, in some circles, the Millennium trilogy) is the strange tale of the originating creator: Stieg Larsson.

Larsson's story is a tale pregnant with the ironies of, just before. Just before he became a successful novelist, he was a notorious crusader against what he identified as the dark sources of Fascism and plutocracy in Swedish society. And, just before his novelist success produced a rather large personal fortune, he died.

This poses two questions to the inquiring mind. First, if he had lived, would he have remained quite as suspicious of wealth as a marker of evil? And, second, might the prior two facts be related?

On this latter question, there has been some considerable speculation. Larsson seems earlyish in life to have embraced Communism and that creed has always had something of the conspiratorial about it. So it isn't surprising that much of the 80s and 90s for him were dedicated to uncovering the cabal of right wing plotters and crypto-Aryans.

He eventually created a foundation and magazine, which he would also edit, called Expo, dedicated to ferreting out these blackguards and villains. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt such people exist, I just think that their influence on the actual world is far less than either they or their avowed foes suppose.

So, to be clear, no, Larsson's "heart attack" on the "anniversary" of Kristallnacht is not the least bit suspicious or peculiar to me. And it's certainly not evidence of anything. Don't you see, if the vile plotters had held off this insidious assassination until 2008, well then, that would have been something else entirely? I mean, 70 years exactly to the day! Because, 70 years has some great relevance, right? Look, this is just the kind of silly way that conspiracy theorists think. I don't take any of it seriously; you'll have to judge for yourself.

Nonetheless, from the perspective of entertainment, Larsson's fixation on right-wing conspiracies paid off handsomely in becoming the thematic and plot milieu of his now much read and cinematically adapted novels. And if anything, they've apparently resonated even more in America than in his Swedish homeland.

It is the conspiracies and debauchery of these right wing Satanist that are exposed by the exploits of super-girl Lisbeth Salander - with the photographic memory, chess-like strategic mind, mathematical skills to make Fermat weep, and the ability to hack into the computers of banks and police departments more or less at will - alongside her journalist sidekick, Mikael Blomkvist. Indeed, in one of the sequels, it appears that maybe coming back from the dead may be added to her list of super hero qualities.

Okay, it is all a bit far-fetched. But whatever stretches of suspended disbelief (or plausible deniability) Larsson may ask of us, the protagonists and their virtuous mission makes for fun reading and viewing. And, hey, there's no success like market success.

It just goes to prove that even a paranoid commie can brush the zeitgeist and hit the jackpot. Probably best though to not ponder too closely what that says about the rest of us.

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