Monday, September 27, 2004

I find the laws of gravitation fairly attractive. I believe that all others share my point of view. Because, gravitation treats everyone, big or small, equally. However high and mighty one is, gravitation has this tendency to bring him down to earth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Da Vinci Code

Following is a discussion on The Da Vinci Code. Although I have not revealed the ending of the story, those who have not read the book yet, but intend to do so, are advised to read it first to keep all suspenses intact!

The first time I heard about The Da Vince Code was when a couple of friends were talking about it. They were praising the book, and one of them went to the extent of declaring that it was the best book she ever read. Curiousity peaked, when I could not find any lendable copy among friends, I bought the book from those footpath bookstores that throng M G Road. (Say no to piracy, ya, ya, I know! When my income is large enough, I will say no to piracy and buy all books at regular stores. Till then, pirated books and softwares are a necessity in life!)

I liked the book immensely. The plot itself was pretty good, probably good enough to keep the interest of the reader till the end. What made the book otstanding was, however, the number of outrageous suggestions and declarations, reading which, as Ross says, the mind boggles. I am not knowledgeable enough on the topics concerned, namely Christianity and the arts, to understand the full import of the suggestions. The thing which intrigues me is the following.

Obviously, the book is fiction. But it is based on reality. The important question is, how much of what Dan Brown says is true, and how much of it has he made up? He has made some outrageous suggestions against the Church, and it would take a really bold person to say all that, unless of course all that is true. And if that be the case, advocates of Christianity, who base their claims on its noble History, are clearly deceived themselves, and they try to put a veil of deception over everyone's eyes. I don't have anything personal against Christianity, and I suppose, the histories of other religeons would be equally tainted, if one cares to look closely, but being uninformed on those topics, I cannot make any comment.

The other interesting suggestion was about The Last Supper. This Leonardo da Vinci painting being among the most famous works of art in the history of mankind, it seems strange that none of the thousands of experts who have scrutinised it under microscope over centuries, detected that the person on Jesus' right in the painting was not a male disciple, the popular belief (I am told) being that the painting captures Jesus and twelve of his disciples having their last supper before Jesus was crucified. Before reading this book, I did not have any idea who Mary Magdalene was. Now that I have read it, I am more inclined to believe Dan Brown's version of it, rather than the popular belief (again, I am told) that she was a prostitute, also a disciple of Jesus. Maybe because Dan Brown's version is more adventurous.

After reading the book, I did some esearch (the web variety of research!) on the topics covered. Interestingly, there seem to be a lot of other people who did the same. The result is that most web-pages covering the topics like the Priory of Sion, or Mary Magdalene, or even The Last Supper, bear references to The Da Vinci Code! An interesting site with a detailed discussion of the book and its contents is a site by one Lisa Shea. Although I do not agree with some of her points and most of her readers' comments, it does make interesting reading.

The Priory of Sion seems to be a secret society, formed by one Pierre Plantard in the middle of the 20th century, which tried to forge historical evidence and create a romantic history for themselves. This website describes the person and the organisation in great details. Mary Magdalene also has websites dedicated to herself, which, again, became popular only after the book! I have not had time to go through this site in details yet, but it should be interesting to do so.

All in all, The Da Vinci Code is a very interesting book. It makes light reading, yet provides a lot to think about. The symbologic and cryptographic references in the book are also attractive. A keen reader of detective stories, and one who used to solve 'clues' with friends when I was a kid, I found the anagrams pretty interesting. I was dissapointed however, when Langdon et al took such a long time to decipher the mirror-writing. I knew what it was at the first glance!