On the Da Vinci Code (finally) August 13, 2006Posted by quiapo in Musings / Random Thoughts, Reviews.
One night at a local Booksale outlet I had tumbled across Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum which was priced at a lowly Php 95.00. Always the thrifty book collector, I purchased the book. I’ve been curious about his work, ever since I saw his books besides Coelho’s, which a few friends of mine liked. To my dreaded surprise, Pendulum was about the templar knights, and more. Hmmm… Haven’t I been a little disjointed about the controversial The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown?
I wanted to write a kind of review/reaction on the Da Vinci Code for a while now, not because I find it a fascinating read, but that I find it strange that a lot of people are affected by it. I guess in our country, majority of the people do not know the Templar stories… and Dan Brown’s “revelations” are very intriguing to a lot of Filipino Catholics, most of which have not taken a critical examination of their faith, or carry the skepticism left by the demonization of Spanish Friars in Rizal’s novels (which we are forced to read in secondary school as part of our academic readings).
Filipinos, you see, are a people with a great interest in rumor… Too much interest that we have Showbiz tabloid shows (which is much more vulgar than anything E! can throw) on two consecutive days. The problem is, as a rule of thumb, we have this uncanny principle to believe that a rumor exists because there is always some truth in it. There are almost no false rumors in the Philippines, every famous movie star has a sex scandal video, and our actresses regularly go to the USA to get abortions.
But I’m going off topic. What I wanted to point out was that some people have been heavily influenced by watching The Da Vinci Code, the tindera at our pharmacy being one of them. But before the code, they were the type of Catholics that say amen to everything the priests say… or as I had (somewhat?) said in an intellectual discussion with some of my renegade friends in college at the tambayan (or the CASAA), these are the faithful zombies. These people, who go to church at Sunday because the catholic church said so, who pray the rosary during October because the church said so, follows and adheres to catholic dogma and traditions because the church said so… without questioning and without thinking. They believe that religion and faith are the same… and the traditions should not be questioned as doing such would be heresy. They were either very devote or very lukewarm religiously, because their beliefs were imposed on them by family, society, fate, and history.
Thus, when a big thing like Dan Brown’s the Da Vinci Code creates some buzz because it challenges their concept and beliefs on religion… It becomes something like Marx’s Das Kapital. They don’t call for outright liberation from Catholic thought, but they begin to challenge it… albeit with little intelligence involved. I have been tired of telling some people that The Da Vinci Code is classified under FIction, because a few people I know have taken Brown’s inane rantings and almost abusrd (cabalistic?) reasoning and relationship fishing as fact. I never thought the novel could be significant enough to challenge one’s faith (or lack thereof) but I have observed that mere mention of the extra hand at Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting can evoke forceful reactions from these faithful zombies.
I have seen more fact about the Templar Knights, Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians (simply put, something like relatives of the templars…) in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum but Eco’s work never achieved the media and religious hoopla that The Da Vinci Code had. This and wikipedia-ing Dan Brown’s biography has led me to the conclusion that Brown’s just in it for controversy, fame ( infamy) and of course money. He’s as legit on the subject as Vanilla Ice is as legit a rapper, incidentally both have had short musical careers (Dan Brown released two musical albums, one of which had the songs “Happy Frogs” and “Suzuki Elephants” – how legit is that?). One of the things that threw me off from liking The Da Vinci Code was his dramatic ramblings about the sacred feminine… borderline fanaticism on his “consequential” factoids similar to the paranoia of Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory, to show that he came up with some research to back up his novel (and wikipedia hints that he might have had alot of help on the research). What he presented was anything but new and had been written in countless works both fiction and non-fiction. I even watched some of it on a Discovery Channel documentary on the Templar Knights when I was in high school (afterwhich I created my first email address , inspired by templar lore: email@example.com – it doesn’t work anymore). The million dollars and a movie deal difference though, was his sensationalist writing style, the book read like a tabloid on the history of the Catholic Church. And again incidentally, he lived in Hollywood from 1991-93, so Mr. Brown’s sensationalism should have been nurtured by Lala land. In showbiz controversy sells and Brown used that in his 4th book.
And by the way, for all the reason’s wrong and right, Eco did reveal that the Templars kissed each others asses during initiations… Following Dan Brown’s reasoning on one of my favorite subjects: wrestling, it is my theory that Mr. McMahon knew that, was an astute follower of (maybe he is a freemason?) and wanted to inculcate the templars’ teachings… so he formed the Mr. McMahon Kiss My Ass Club. And maybe,just maybe, the WWE was founded by the Templar Knights… =P