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1 LECTURE Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code Dr. Stephen A. Ogden LIBS 7023: Religious Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "1 LECTURE Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code Dr. Stephen A. Ogden LIBS 7023: Religious Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 LECTURE Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code Dr. Stephen A. Ogden LIBS 7023: Religious Studies

2 Qualities of Literary Merit 1. Good quality of writing 2. Imagination 3. Strong / Important / Comprehensive ideas Dialogism—Heteroglossia 4. Richness of character / mood / setting (place) 5. Narrative potency (the Story) 6. Authenticity / plausibility / honesty 7. Popularity—esp. over time (cf. Dr. Johnson)

3 Plato: literature & the ideal society 4 th Century BC: city state of Athens in Greece “all western philosophy consists of footnotes to Plato.“ (founder of dialectic) Plato’s dialogue “The Republic” the ideal society happiness & justice longevity types of occupations to ensure the ideal society. literature one of them?

4 Christopher Hitchens, on The Da Vinci Code “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” “Mother Teresa [is] a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.” (Missionary Position) literally the advocatus diaboli (‘devil’s advocate’ = “Satan’s lawyer”) at Mother Teresa’s sainthood.

5 Hitchens on Da Vinci Code “A few weeks ago, at an airport in Europe, I saw Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code staring at me across the bookstore bins. I had seen it many times before and averted my gaze, but I was facing a long delay, and I suddenly thought: May as well get it over with. Well, of course I knew it would be bad. I just didn't know that it would be that bad. Never mind for now the breathless and witless style, or the mashed-paper characters, or the lazy, puerile reliance on incredible coincidence to flog the lame plot along.”

6 Other Anti-religious Persons on The Da Vinci Code Salman Rushdie: persecuted author of the anti-Islamic The Satanic Verses: "Do not start me on 'The Da Vinci Code,' A novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name.“ Public Atheist Stephen Fry: "complete loose stool-water…I just loathe all those book[s] about the Holy Grail and Masons and Catholic conspiracies …It plays to the worst and laziest in humanity, the desire to think the worst of the past and the desire to feel superior to it in some fatuous way."

7 “U-FIX” the Writing in Da Vinci Code “Robert Langdon awoke slowly. A telephone was ringing in the darkness—a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four- poster bed. “Where the hell am I?”

8 Writing “quality” in Da Vinci Code p.17: “…[Claude Monet] literally inspired the birth of the Impressionist movement.” “Literally” means “not figurative.” “The Vancouver Canucks literally shot themselves in the foot.” Dan Russell. Mixed Metaphor: “the ship of state ran off the rails.” p.18: “Shaped like an enormous horseshoe, the Louvre was the longest building in Europe, stretching farther than three Eiffel Towers laid end-to-end”

9 Writing “quality” in Da Vinci Code, con’t “….its witless style….” p.13: “…information so powerful that its protection was the reason for the brotherhood’s very existence.” p.45: “Soeur Sandrine. Eglise Saint-Sulplice.” “Hello Sister,” the man said in French.” p.17: Explicitly attributes ‘phallic significance’ to the Eiffel Tower. ‘teenaged male’-level symbolism Misses completely the corresponding (& more historically legitimate) symbolic potentiality of the Garden [femaleness] in the paragraph immediately following— which might have rescued his Eiffel Tower mention.

10 Fiction and …. ACCURATE: ad. L. acc r t-us performed with care, exact, pa. pple. of acc r -re to apply care to FACT: ad. L. fact-um thing done, neut. pa. pple. of fac re to do. First in 16th c.; the earlier adoption of the OF. form survives with narrowed sense as FEAT.] HONEST: a. OF. honeste (12th c. in Littré), mod.F. honnête (= It. onesto, Sp., Pg. honesto), ad. L. honestus honourable, respectable, decent, fine, handsome, f. honos, -or, hon r-, HONOUR.] TRUE: OE. (strict WS. ( e)tríewe, commonly) tréowe (ME. also truwe) lit. ‘having or characterized by good faith.’

11 Levels of Statement: Empirical to…? 1. “There is a $500 bill on my desk in my office right now” 2. “My office is at SW2-312” 3. “I am a Liberal Studies faculty member” 4. “Liberal Studies courses improve success in business and personal life” 5. “Capitalism is a failing business system.” 6. “Vote for Fred / Frieda”

12 Mimesis–vs – Invention (Hyperbolisation) in Da Vinci Code. “personal prelature of the Pope himself.’ p.33 “personal prelature” is an ecclesiastical term (Prelate = Bishop) ‘personal’ is the opposite of “geographic”—a type of beaurocaric responsibility. “corporal mortification” p.15 Martial arts Hot Yoga Sauna Dieting “….a slide show of pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral...” p.7 destinations.com/france/cha rtres-cathedral destinations.com/france/cha rtres-cathedral “Murray Hill Place the new Opus Dei National Headquarters…is located at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York…Men enter the building through the main doors on Lexington Ave. Women enter through a side street and are ‘acoustically and visually separated’ from the men.is located at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York “Symbologist”

13 Constantine the Great & the Council of Nicæa. “nothing in Christianity is original”— this is Christianity’s claim vis-à-vis Hebrew & pagan prophesies Constantine (chapter 55) not a pagan—mother was St. Helena The divinity of Jesus as not “decided” at the council—the humanity of Jesus was. contra the Arian heresy which had Jesus wholly God & not Man. Cf. Council of Ephesus (431) Mary is Theotokos (i.e. “Mother of God.” Council of Nicæa (325) had nothing to do with the Biblical canon. Constantine convened not participated in the Council

14 Bible & its Historical Development Historical development of the canon a Roman Catholic commonplace e.g. Catholic Encyclopædia—Christian Bible determined dogmatically at Council of Trent 16 th C.Catholic Encyclopædia New Testament largely collated from many available extant documents by the late 1 st and 2 nd Centuries. Cf: ISLAM: holds that the Qur’an was repeatedly revealed from Allah to Muhammad orally through the angel Gabriel over a period of approximately twenty-three years, beginning in 610 AD. Muslims regard the Qur’an as the main miracle of Muhammad, as proof of his prophethood. MORMONISM Founder Joseph Smith’s account of the Book of Mormon, & written in the book itself, is that it was originally written in "reformed Egyptian" on golden plates. Smith said that he received these plates in 1827 from an angel named Moroni

15 Text and Canon—Dilemma Textual dilemma for Canon conspiracists: arguments for orthodoxy are based on historical texts arguments for heterodoxy are based on historical texts All historical claims rely on appeals to the same type of evidence: textual and authoritative.

16 Christianity & Paganism: “baptise”, co-optation Days of the week Monday = Moon’s day Sunday = Sun’s day Wednesday = Woden Thursday = Thor Saturday = Saturn Tuesday = Tyr (Norse) Friday = Freya / Venus Months of the Year March = Mars April = Aphrodite May = Maia July = Julius Caeser

17 Pagan: con’t p.39: “villain” is a serf—from Roman Empire’s country villas = a term of social class. Like ‘rascal’ & ‘vulgar’ =‘common people.’ (’Paddy Wagon’ = ‘wagon that takes drunken Paddies away.’) Also, an unreliable guide: “cretin” derives from Fr. Chretien = “Christian.” Very bourgeois tendency to prettify aspects of life. 19 th C. attacks on Christianity: Friedrich Nietzsche (“God is Dead”)—Christianity is the religion of slaves. The masters need to destroy Christianity so the Übermensch may triumph. Algernon Charles Swinburne: “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath.” Paganism in vigour: The Wicker Man: ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’The Wicker Man

18 The Occult & Hermetic background to Da Vinci Code Plot “Hidden” and “Secret”: doctrinal concepts Hermetic Philosophy: secret knowledge (gnostic)—Truth is inside and accessed only by in-sight and special power or illumination. “Hermes Trismegistus” –”thrice great Hermes” Kabbalism, Alchemy, Astrology Occult Practice: (“hidden”) access to inner power by ritual and hermetic knowledge—i.e. by Magicians. Science the powerful opponent of Magic.

19 Dan Brown’s Experience of Religion Pps : “Langdon was always surprised by how few Christians who gazed upon “the crucifix” realised their symbol’s violent history…” This astonishing piece of dialogue could only have been written by a bourgeois American Protestant.

20 Crucifix: Catholic Churches

21 American Anti-Catholicism: Ku Klux Klan & Conspiracy Ku Klux Klan; anti-Black, anti- Catholic, anti-Jew Politically efficacious: The Horkheimer & Adorno Thesis (The Dialectic of Enlightenment) 1. identify a scapegoat 2. assign it contradictory qualities 1.immensely dangerous (powerful) 2.immensely contemptible (weak) Nazi ideology: Jewish conspiracy ruling the world. American politicians: e.g. “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

22 Conspiracy, con’t—its attraction to individuals in our time. projection from the inner hidden-life of one’s own self (Freud) response to complex world of bureaucracy & technology (Kafka) rationalisation for individual failure (or anger, or bigotries) in life: ‘powerful hidden forces stopped my success \ justify my prejudices.” sociological: reaction to the decline of religion as an organising social institution and determiner of personal identity as an eternal being. the social, not the eternal, becomes the frame of reference Da Vinci Code: pps 184, 33, 109, 186, 32

23 American Anti-Catholicism: Fundamentalism. The Fundamentals or The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth ( ) “What should be understood is the premise that there are essential doctrines of Christianity that should not in any way be set aside or tampered with, these doctrines are ‘fundamental’ to true Christianity. A fundamentalist in this sense of the word is one who upholds these doctrines without compromise.” Da Vinci Code, : “Is Romanism Christianity?” by T.W. Medhurst 22: “Rome, the Antagonist of the Nation.” by Rev. J.M. Foster 23: “The True Church,” by Bishop Ryle

24 JACK CHICK: comics, tracts. Fundamentalist Anti- Catholicism (e.g. Roman Catholicism caused the Nazi Holocaust.)

25 The “sacred feminine” “a campaign of propaganda that demonised the sacred feminine.” Da Vinci Code, p.133 Argumentum ad populam, 55, 103,182 Book of Genesis, Chapter 1 v.27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

26 The “sacred feminine” Dan Brown—Ch.28: “….the early Christian Church conned the world by propagating lies that devalued the female…” “…waging a war of propaganda that demonised the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.” (note the prose flaw….) Argumentum ad populam, 55, 103,182

27 Christianity & the Sacred Feminine: Radical, X-treme, Restoration Let’s brainstorm some wild extreme restorations of the Sacred Feminine: be as crazy, as ‘out-there’, as possible. GOD…is equally Female! GOD, the Supreme Being,…has a Mother! GOD, has his Home, HEAVEN, and His Creation, EARTH, both ruled by a QUEEN!

28 Sacred feminine: Woman—Queen of Heaven & Earth [Current] Pope—Benedict XVI— November 2006: "God exalted [Mary] over all other creatures and …. crowned her Queen of heaven and earth."

29 Councils of Nicæa (AD 325) & Ephesus (AD 431): Theotókos “Sacred Feminine” Council declaration GOD has a mother! Mary: Θεοτόκος (Theotókos)—”Mother of God,” / “One who gives birth to God”

30 Sacred Feminine in Bible— female foundation of the Earth Da Vinci Code — the conclusion – (p.489.) “…he heard a woman’s voice…the wisdom of the ages…whispering up from the chasms of the earth…” Proverbs 8 “Wisdom's Call” 1 Does not Wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2 On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: 4 "To you, O men, I call out…” 22 GOD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. 24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; 25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, 26 before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. 27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so that the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. 30 Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

31 Da Vinci Code: The Mirror & Art Da Vinci Code: a mark of its artistic credibility and honesty. Contains—through art or by design—its own antidote to its central fallacy (the appeal of argumentum ad populam) pps 184, 33, 109, 186, 32


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