Thursday, May 25, 2006

So Dark the Con of Dan

"So, J...what do you think of The Da Vinci Code?"

If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question in the past month, dear readers, I'm sure I'd have at least a coupla hundred bucks. Yes, "What do you think of The Da Vinci Code?" It's a question I'm sure a lot of Catholics are getting these days, but even moreso if they're known to be avid readers and/or writers. (I can't imagine what kinds of questions Giuliano must be fielding!) When people come to me with this question, they typically want to know two things: (1) am I offended by it, and (2) do I think it's good on a literary level. Speaking strictly for myself, the answer to both of those questions is no.

The Da Vinci Code has some fun and interesting ideas (for example, you'll be hard-pressed to ever look at da Vinci's Last Supper the same way once you're familiar with "the code.") But, once you get past the suggestion that there are hidden symbols all around us, you're left with the amazing realization that the story isn't really all that well-written. Every character within its pages is the kind of character you've seen a thousand times before: the headstrong female detective, the squeamish academic, the bumbling cops, the convenient rich friend with all sorts of high-tech gadgetry...It's all very stock. And all of them - all of them - think in only the most simple terms about the most cliche'd things:

I must find out the truth about my family.
I must protect God's church.
I must find out who's behind all this.

Imagine Scooby-Doo and the Gang investigating the secrets of the Vatican and you've pretty much got The Da Vinci Code.

I might be a little biased on this, of course, seeing as how I've been a pretentious English major for the better part of a decade. Everything I've read in recent memory, you see, has been written by the giants of literature - Shakespeare, Joyce, Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Chaucer, Hemingway, etc. To read something like The Da Vinci Code - a popular contemporary novel written for a wide audience - was really a shock to the system. Still, even a casual reader is bound to notice the story's glaring imperfections.

The movie makes them even more obvious, and if you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about. Typical of Hollywood movies, The Da Vinci Code changes key events and connections in the story for no discernible reason. And instead of talking like normal people, the characters give long, unnatural explanations of the events going on around them. Dialogue typical of The Da Vinci Code might include: "This hat is the symbol for the Pillsbury Doughboy - an icon for an American bakery founded in 1937, near the end of the Great Depression. Originally, the Pillsbury Doughboy (or simply "Doughboy" as he was known) symbolized only biscuits, but as time went on he came to represent any number of different baked treats offered by the bakery I mentioned earlier." Even great actors like Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou (she was BRILLIANT in Amelie) can't really do anything with the flat dialogue they've been given to work with. (Oddly enough, I saw Tom Hanks on Inside Edition before I saw the movie, and I'm totally serious, he didn't seem very excited when discussing it. I guess he could see what a trainwreck the whole thing was.)

What's worse is that the movie goes so far out of its way to not offend Catholics that it ends up making the story's boldest assertions seem kind of tame. In the book, after all, wildly anti-Catholic (or at least anti-Vatican) accusations are just sort of haphazardly thrown around as if they're well-known facts. In the movie, they're instantly disputed. The movie also corrects the number of people killed during the Church's witch hunts, which were unbelievably exaggerated in the book.

The way I see it, though, it's actually more offensive for the movie to make these changes, because it suggests that Catholics might not be able to handle a little Vatican-inspired fiction - as if Catholics are the types to riot in the streets and burn down movie theaters for showing The Da Vinci Code. (If you want that kind of reaction to a religious movie, try making a film version of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.) I mean, really, if you're gonna make a movie based on a controversial book, then damn it, go all-out and make a controversial movie. Just throw it out there, you know? I don't know. I was disappointed.

The only real joy I've gotten out of The Da Vinci Code is the joy that comes with pretending that it really does hold some deep-dark Catholic secrets. Sometimes when people ask me, "So, J, what do you think of The Da Vinci Code?" I get this really serious, almost frightened look and say, "I'm not supposed to talk about that," or "Let us not speak of these things. We know not who may be listening." It's so much fun to watch people spin conspiracy theories out of stuff they don't even begin to understand.

Sadly enough, this is actually the second time I've been burned by a movie this month. The first time was with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

I know I'm a little late jumping on this particular bandwagon, but I finally went ahead and read it at the beginning of the month and then watched the movie for the first time last Friday. The book, I must say, was brilliant. It never lagged, it said what it needed to say, and it was consistently intriguing. The movie, on the other hand, made me quote one of my favorite lines from Blazing Saddles: "Now hold it, hold it! What the hell is that shit?" Honestly, the movie had nothing to do with the book. They were like two different stories. And even if I hadn't read the book, I'd still say the movie sucked. (Why is it, I wonder, that film studios never seem to be able to tell a simple story without tearing apart the source material?)

Anyway, I'm doing a lot of reading these days (as you can see), and since you're taking the time to read this, dear readers, I think you might be the best ones to tell my big bright idea to...

J's Big Bright Idea

When I was growing up, my hometown library used to host Summer Reading Club. The idea, basically, was that you'd check out a bunch of books from the library, and then for every one you completed, you got a star next to your name on this big poster board. At the end of the summer, whoever had the most stars won something (it must not have been a very good prize, because I don't remember what it was.) But anyway, now that summer is upon us I'd like to start a Summer Reading Club amongst my friends. Nothing elaborate, just some kind of online bulletin board where we can post our thoughts on whatever we happen to be reading. There may not be stars. There may not be prizes. But, it would be nice just to have a forum to share thoughts and book suggestions.

Let me know what you think and we'll see what we can't get started. 'Til then I hope everyone is well and I send much love to everyone who remembered my birthday today. Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on. you can't honestly say this wasn't well written. and the characters are developed well, and it works for the general population if you keep the characters in roles they want to see. no one can relate to them, so that makes it all the more interesting -FICTION. i left the theater wanting to be more like sophie neveu. you criticizing dan brown is like me criticizing picasso. sometimes, we just have to sit back and give kudos where kudos are due. but you know i love you. even if your opinions are wrong. :) carmichael

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know how much you dig Science Fiction but, Lois McMaster Bujold has a fairly old series called the Vorkosigan Series. I haven't read all of the books but any one of the series is a fantastic read. All of the characters are very well developed. often when I read these books I think, "Man, J would get a kick out of these.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello J, (you may not initially agree with everything I reveal, but we are allies nonetheless...)

Here is the key to understanding what the Vatican and Papacy truly fear...

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...

Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

There's much more to the story of the Vatican's recent machinations than meets the eye. It's not the DaVinci Code or Gospel of Judas per se, but the fact that people have now been motivated to seek out the unequivocal truth about an age of deception, exactly when they expect me to appear. These recent controversies are spurring people to reevaluate the Vatican/Papacy and the religions that Rome spawned, at the worst possible time for them.

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

The DaVinci Code novel and movie are no more inaccurate as literal versions of history than the New Testament. The primary sub-plot involved purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, exactly like the Bible and related texts. In other words, none of these stories represent the literal truth. This is the common and pivotal fact of all such narratives about ancient Hebrew and Christian history. Debating whether the DaVinci Code, Gnostic texts, or the Bible are accurate history is a purposeful ploy designed to hide the truth by directing your inquiry away from the heart of the matter.

There is a foolproof way to verify the truth and expose centuries-old religious deceptions. It also proves why we can no longer let the Vatican tell us what to think about ancient history or much else. It is the common thread connecting why the ancient Hebrews, Yahad/Essene, Jews, Gnostics, Cathars, Templars, Dead Sea Scrolls, DaVinci Code, and others have been targets of Rome’s ire and evil machinations. The Vatican and its secret society cohorts don’t want you to understand that the ancient Hebrew symbology in all of these texts purposely encodes and exposes the truth about them. Furthermore, the structure of ancient wisdom symbology verifiably encodes the rules to decode messages built with it. This is what they most fear you will discover.

If the Bible represented the literal truth or even accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk. It is undeniable the New Testament is awash with ancient Hebrew symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Old Testament, Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, Quran, DaVinci Code, and other related sources. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It is beyond amazing that the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are the literal truth. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions. Recasting the symbolism of earlier Hebrew texts as literal events in the New Testament is one of the central deceptions associated with Christianity. This is part of the secret knowledge held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, Cathars, and others, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth. This fact is the key to unraveling many ages-old mysteries and exposing the truth about the Vatican's long-term deceptions.

Moreover, the following Washington Post article (The Book of Bart) describes how many changes and embellishments were made to New Testament texts over the centuries, unequivocally demonstrating they are not original, infallible, or truthful. When you combine proof that the New Testament Gospels are not wholly literal with proof that these texts were heavily reworked in the early years of Christianity, you are left with only one possible conclusion. The Vatican has long lied to everyone about the central tenets and history of Christianity. This revelation also proves they are not the Creator’s representatives but Her longtime opponents. The recent hoopla over the Gospel of Judas and DaVinci Code demonstrates they are still desperately trying to deceive the world and obfuscate their true nature and activities.

It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. As further proof of these assertions, seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia. What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand the truth?

Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

Not only do I talk the talk, I walk the walk...
Here is Wisdom!!

Revelations from the Apocalypse

10:29 AM  

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