Thoughts from the Loo

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

[E][A] Da Vinci without a Codebook

I saw yesterday on CNN's pretentiously called "Insight" program a segment on Dan Brown's incredibly well selling novel "Da Vinci Code", "controversy" surrounding it and what the Church has to say. Hordes of "codehunters" visiting the book's locales were also covered. Here is an article that contains perhaps half of the program (that is, almost everything except the most interesting parts where actual specialists talk about early history of Christianity). BTW, to see what kind of industry has sprung around the novel, just search for it on Amazon.

(Warning: mild spoilers ahead) Now, I don't think too high of the novel: research is sloppy, style so-so, the "code-breaking" part almost childish. As for research, if the author is too lazy to learn how GPS locators work, describe Louvre's Great Galery accurately or invest more that one sentence in claim that Dead Sea Scrolls contain New Testament texts, it will somehow make suspension of disbelief harder. OTOH, it in not necessary to repeat twenty times that the Church changed quite radically in its early centuries, that authentic apocryphal (so to say) gospels exist or that religion is not "naturaly male-dominated" (though, judging by the novel's success, it seems to actually be news to many).

Anyway, what I wanted to harp about is this CNN's sentence: "The book supposes that [...] one of the fastest growing movements in the church, Opus Dei, is populated with plotters and assassins." Well, it does not. Actually, one of my main complaints to the novel is that it depicts the Church in general and Opus Dei in particular as angels at best and well-meaning but missguided sincere believers and victims of knowledge-seeking vilains at worst. Give me a break! (BTW, the elided part of the sentence is about quite popular theory of Mary Magdalene being Jesus wife - nothing new here, either.)

Update: I just saw Da Vinci's "Madonna of the Rocks", the Louvre version (in the Grand Galery packed like a metro car - it was the first Sunday of the month, meaning free admission). Well, Brown's interpretation might have something to it...

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