Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Masonic Joke: The 'Lost Symbol' Is at Target

The "lost symbol" in Dan Brown's big bestseller of the same name is a geometric shape called a circumpunct. Which turns out to be the logo of Target Stores. Creeeeeepy!

I bet Manny, Mo, and Jack are in on it, too!*

Many readers probably suspected that The Lost Symbol would be an exposé about the Masons in much the same way that The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons revealed occult lore embedded in the history of the Catholic church. But this latest book from the master of page-turners is neither anti-Masonic nor anti-Catholic. It is, at its core, a New Age manifesto. And it unashamedly points to Freemasonry as the paradigm for a contemporary mindset that embraces all religions and challenges human beings to build a society where tolerance is the order of the day.

(The origins of Masonry had a lot to do with opposing the Pope and European royalty.)

What is this New Age mindset? Well, what is old, even ancient, is new again. Modern Noetic science, which figures strongly in the plot, is based on the Neoplatonic belief that thoughts are things and can manifest in reality (same theme as The Secret, also found in John 1:1). You'll find the notion that humans are co-creators with God (Brown quotes the Bible verse "Know ye not that ye are gods?") And it will come as good news that the Apocalypse of Revelation will be a peaceful explosion of human consciousness rather than nuclear weaponry (see also The Twelve).

Despite Brown's crowd-pleasing prowess, I doubt if he's exploiting New Age philosophy just to pander to popular taste. He seems to believe it all, along with a heartfelt patriotism that sees the American experiment much as the Founding Fathers did, as an imperfect work in progress on a worthy Utopian ideal.

In fact, in retrospect, it almost seems as though the Da Vinci/Angels books built a fan base to which he can now overtly deliver a message that's been his subtext all along.

It's not a flawless book, in my humble opinion. But he's selling about a million times more copies than my Rollo Hemphill novels, so who am I to throw rocks? I get bored with USA Today-style, seventh-grade-reading-level prose -- except when I'm riveted, turning pages in my zeal to find out what happens next, which is most of the time.

And his dialogue is often plainly expository and not the least dramatic, rather like those young Greek stooges questioning Socrates. I don't recall if any of the characters actually says to Langdon, "Tell me more," but they are often content to toss out short queries and then listen to him lecture (okay, interestingly) for paragraphs.

I challenge you to read this without thinking of John Malkovich as the big Decorated Man and Linda Hunt as Sato. I have my ideas about the inevitable casting of other characters, but the speech patterns of these two just seem so similar to their distinctive characterizations in previous movie roles.

And, please, somebody tell me why no one thinks to take a flashlight into Pod 5!

*Founders of the Pep Boys, a chain of automobile parts stores.


Malcolm R. Campbell said...

The lack of a flashlight bothered me, too, especially when a guest was being escorted across the pod. On the other hand, a scene near the end of the novel wouldn't have been as interesting if anyone had had a flash light.

FWI: Here's a link to an article about the book written by a noetic scientist. I liked her take on it: http://www.shiftinaction.com/node/9548

I also liked Brown's book, though the info dumps and lame dialogue are tedious. Like you, though, I kept turning those pages.


daboychik said...

I have no doubt whatsoever that the pitch-black environment of Pod 5 was created to elicit narrative (and cinematic!) thrills. The flashlight question is the kind asked by annoying critics that Hitchcock called "The Plausibles." His attitude was, you just do the implausible thing and count on audience involvement to overlook it. I can think of several ploys to get around the issue, but Brown obviously felt the audience would go with him and perhaps that excusing the device would just get in the way of the action.

I appreciate your comment and particularly the resource on noetics, to which I'm a total newbie.