THE BLOG

Quantum of What? Deducing Bond 002

01/26/2008 01:15 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What makes life bearable? How much comfort is required to pass days?

A "quantum of solace" is a fancy phrase for "quantity of comfort." It's also the name of the next James Bond movie, the twenty-second overall, but the second since the Daniel Craig series restart.

The very cool title sent me digging into my bookshelves to my small Ian Fleming collection (if you enjoyed the 21st Bond film more than, say, the fifteen that proceeded it, I highly recommend Fleming's original novels) for a refresher on the phrase.

"Quantum of Solace" is the name of a story in For Your Eyes Only, a collection of Bond shorts. The super-spy is marginal in the story, a guest at a dinner hearing someone else's tale of woe, and the movie reportedly bears no resemblance beyond a shared title.

But the concept is presumably key. As a character explains it:

[All human relations] "can survive anything so long as some kind of basic humanity exists between two people. When all kindness has gone, when one person obviously and sincerely doesn't care if the other is alive or dead, then it's just no good. That particular insult to the ego -- worse, to the instinct of self-preservation -- can never be forgiven. ... I've thought about this and I've invented a rather high-sounding title for this basic factor in human relations. I have called it the Law of the Quantum of Solace."

Bond said: "That's a splendid name for it. ... Quantum of Solace -- the amount of comfort. Yes, I suppose you could say that love and friendship is based in the end on that. Human beings are very insecure. When the other person not only makes you feel insecure but actually seems to want to destroy you, it's obviously the end. The Quantum of Solace stands at zero."

Quantum will reportedly find Bond seeking revenge for the events of Casino. The question to ponder until November (an election and a new Bond movie in the same week!) is whether Bond's quantum is diminishing or growing.