Brendan Frye

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Brendan Frye, born in Copenhagen in 1953, 1955, and 1956, is the pseudonym of Elmo Iversen, a former operative for the Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE or DDIS). A department within the Ministry of Defence, FEscreen-shot-2017-01-17-at-5-15-52-pm (or DDIS) serves under the directives of the Defence Minister of Denmark and is located at Kastellet in Copenhagen.

Under another as yet undisclosed pseudonym — or, more properly in this case, nom de guerre — he has consulted on matters of espionage for the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) and Paris Review. At the latter journal he found himself in perpetual confrontation with Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) moles, outing several for writing verse that no one but field assets would be able to understand. On more than one occasion Frye has proposed that much contemporary poetry is in fact encrypted operational intelligence.1

Frye was — or is, if still alive — fluent in three dead languages and cursorily adept in several contemporary ones. Not seen since 1993, he subsequently admitted that his cover was blown that year in Alexandria, Egypt, after he incorrectly responded to a vegetable vendor in a particularly bureaucratic form of Katharevousa, rather than in the familiar Demotic.2 Under enhanced interrogation, he is said to have admitted finally to having learnt what little Modern Greek he knew from C.P. Cavafy‘s first published work, “Ποιήματα” (Poiēmata, “Poems”). Currently Frye is — or was — sole contributor to and generally the only reader of a notorious WordPress blog called The Loser Thinks.

His career in intelligence began in the United Kingdom (UK) when, not long after matriculating at St Brides College, Oxford to read Literae Humaniores, Frye was approached in hushed tones by his college’s provost (formally known as “president” at St Brides). Alan Hollinghurst, who would later become renowned for his translation of Jean Racine‘s Bajazet, had been scheduled to speak — on the topic of his Oxford love-life — for an outdoor fund-raiser to be held in The Cloister, only to fall ill minutes before the event. (The Cloister, St Brides’s Great Quad, is sometimes referred to by insiders as Mod Quad, not to be confused with New Quad, which is a completely different quad, nor with The Mod Squad, “the hippest and first young undercover cops on TV”). Misunderstanding his provost’s request — to stand in for Hollinghurst as guest speaker — he instead imitated Hollinghurst for nearly two hours. (One anonymous report suggests that the entire two-hour talk consisted of three sentences and seventy-four subordinate clauses, and that each of these three sentences ended with the disclaimer, “or possibly not.”) Asked to stop speaking, because attendees were growing hungry, Frye announced that he could also do a good A.C. Grayling. (Grayling, in attendance, was not amused, although to be fair, neither was he much of anything else.) Frye’s otherwise pitch-perfect  mimicry had, however, been noted by two SIS agents on the scene — this by accident, since they’d been directed to attend a similar event at St Brigid’s, Cambridge (unrelated to the older, more venerated Oxford college and spelt differently anyway, in addition to which its name employs — some would say vulgarly — a possessive apostrophe), from which, historically, the SIS had successfully recruited spies and/or Surveyors of the Queen’s Pictures in the past.

While still at university, Frye earned an immense following (of nearly three cruel brunettes in catsuits) after contributing to Cherwell an article on the imagery and prosody of cocktail party surveillance entitled “007 Types of Ambiguity.

One early intelligence breakthrough came during Hilary Term of 1973. While wearing an elaborate and ingenious disguise (impersonating a man not snoring in the Bodleian Library) Frye discovered that W.H. Auden’s neologism “soodling” had been validated in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) with a citation to Auden himself.3 Moreover, this citation seemed to have been taken from the very poem, “Under Sirius,” in which that word had first occurred (in Cyril Connolly’s Horizon in 1949).

By many accounts, Frye’s first field assignment was in Mexico City, where he successfully infiltrated an insurrectionist circle of writers known as the Visceral Realists.

Currently, Frye winters — as well as springs, summers, and autumns — on Swan Island, off the northeast coast of Tasmania. He occupies the island’s lighthouse, where he passes his nights screening an intact print of Abel Gance’s triple-screen final sequence of Napoléon (1927) on the curved wall of the lower storey, which, subtending 146º of arc, perfectly matches the requirements of Polyvision projection, a precursor to Cinerama.