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ON DAN BROWN'S THE DA VINCI CODE: CHAPTERS 61 TO 80
1. This chapter presents an exhausted Sophie surveying how the sacred feminine has surreptitiously survived centuries of persecution: Sir Gawain, Sleeping Beauty, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Magic Flute, Snow White, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid all contain oblique references. Eble's Depth and Details (referenced earlier) cites The "Little Mermaid" and the Archetype of the Lost "Bride" by Margaret Starbird, author of The Woman With the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail (included in Secrets of the Code). Click here for her web site.
She states ( p. 145) that "...it is truly significant that the directors of the Disney film chose to place Mary Magdalene at the bottom of the sea, for it is She who represents the lost Bride and the archetype of the "Sacred Feminine" as partner in Christian mythology."
3. Recall also the meaning of sea in Coleridge's poetry. In Kubla Khan, the 'sacred' river descends to a 'sunless sea,' and in Ancient Mariner, the sea below the 'line' suggests the subconscious. In the latter poem, these lines are interesting. The context is what the Mariner views on the ghost ship:
And those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate ?
And is that Woman all her crew ?
Is that a DEATH ? and are there two ?
Is DEATH that woman's mate ?
Like vessel, like crew !
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold :
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.
Who is she, and why does Coleridge, a very conservative Anglican (at least consciously) see her as life-in-death? Is this the sacred feminine? See my web page commentary which also references Robert Graves' The White Goddess.
4. Secrets of the Code, cites The Woman With the Alabaster Jar as arguing (as does The Templar Revelation), that the Black Madonnas in the 5th to 12 century European churches refer to Mary and her child (Sarah = 'queen' or 'princess' in Hebrew), thus validating the flight to Alexandria (p. 22-23).
1. Brown advances the plot as Silas circles Teabing's estate along with the police, and p. 276 suggests something horrific....the murders of the senechaux, those entrusted with guarding the secret of Mary and Jesus were committed by the Church. Even Langdon (echoing his Vatican involvement detailed in Angels and Demons) and Sophie are shocked, but Teabing counters: "In my experience...men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire. I sense a desperation in this assault on the Priory." (p. 276). Teabing's reply suggests much about the man himself, and an interesting philosophical dilemma for the contemporary Church, and one that might nullify what I mentioned earlier regarding the truth. I had argued that if tomorrow irrefutable evidence sustained Brown's thesis, how could Christianity be harmed by the truth? Teabing's asserts that for the very faithful Christian and clergy, a crisis in faith might not occur, but he adds, "But what about the rest of the world? What about those who look at the cruelty in the world and say, where is God today? Those who look at Church scandals and ask, who are those men who claim to speak the ruth about Christ and yet lie to cover up the sexual abuse of children by their own priests?...What happens to those people, Robert, if persuasive scientific evidence comes out that the Church's version of the Christ story is inaccurate, and that the greatest story ever told is, in fact, the greatest story ever sold...The Vatican faces a crisis of faith unprecedented in its two-millennium history." This sounds awfully like a character in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales whom we will reference later when assessing Teabing's character at the end of the novel.
2. Teabing might not be an accurate historian (The Dead Sea scrolls for example do not discuss Christianity), but he's not a bad philosopher or psycholgist. In May of 2006, Pope Benedict visited Auschwitz, and while prayerfully lamenting the horrors, said, Why, Lord he asked, did you remain silent? ...and readers of Night know Wiesel's thoughts on God and the holocaust. Might Teabing be echoing the Pope's words in another context? The problem of evil perhaps is the longest debated issue in moral philosophy. Did God make the best of all possible worlds? Click here for my web site that discusses the Classical and Medieval antecedents of the problem. From a modern perspective, does Sartre's existentialism suggest the outcome Teabing predicts? Click here for his Existentialism Is a Humanism. Therein he notes, "The first effect of existentialism is that it puts every man in possession of himself as he is, and places the entire responsibility for his existence squarely upon his own shoulders. And, when we say that man is responsible for himself," and "So every man ought to say, Am I really a man who has the right to act in such a manner that humanity regulates itself by what I do. The moral responsibility is terrifying and the resulting angst is dreadful because, and this is the heart of Sartre's essay: "Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. That being is man or, as Heidegger has it, the human reality. What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is." In other words, We alone are responsible for the moral consequences, both microcosmically (the self), and macrocosmically (the universal impact) of our actions. Would such, as Sartre hints, lead to an 'anything-goes" ethics? What about Silas? Do the ends justify the means? Teabing as a philosopher and psychologist really does have much to say, but as the latter, he may not fully realize the implications of what he is saying.
3. Is Teabing correct in arguing that the Church has sanctioned murder because it sees itself as threatened if the documents are revealed. Pope John Paul we know apologized for the sins of the Church including the infliction of violence. I heard a panel of Protestant and Catholics argue that what is sometimes forgotten about organized religion is its human-ness. Congregations, one pastor noted, are fallible and so are their ministers. We cannot, as Plato argued, expect perfection on earth...such is the genesis of Socratic irony in The Republic. If the age of reason, the neo-classical period hypothesized, then why was the period, harkening back to the 'golden age,' the greatest age of satire in literature. Recall Alexander Pope's words in Essay on Man, (Epistle II):
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or beast;
In doubt his mind and body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks to little, or too much;
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.
Pope of course will figure later in the novel, but here he dramatizes that paradox governs the human condition, and Brown deserves credit for creating a character who recognizes that fact. Are we fighting, for example, a war in Iraq to counter terrorism which has occurred, 9-11, or what might occur? The Viet Nam war was prosecuted on the "domino theory" that if we did not fight the Communists in South Viet Nam, we would be fighting them in south L.A. We might therefore ask what a family, the state, the church etc. would do if confronted before the fact with evidence it thought sufficiently damning to its very existence? In this case, we are dealing with the Priory documents, but art imitates life. How credible then, is the Teacher's admonition to Silas to capture the keystone without hurting anyone? (p. 279).
4. Teabing of course is shocked to learn they have the keystone...right in his own study!...while Silas stalks...
1. Collet ponders why Fache (masculine fear of the sacred feminine?) orders him to wait before arresting Langdon and Sophie. Is his career in danger, or must be vindicate his own ineptitude in being 'outsmarted' by a woman!!!
2. The chapter ends with Aringarosa's angst--something has gone wrong in Paris. (p. 282)
1. Notice that Teabing, despite the errors critics have accused him of making, acknowledge his own errors in the Grail quest. What was his mistake...
2. Beyond the mechanics of plot, what does his remark that "...the Grail finds you" (p.283) mean morally, philosophically and psychologically? Is the 'sacred feminine' within us, waiting to come out...to find us. Recall what Jung had noted regarding the anima and animus relationship, and what was cited from Coleridge. My Jung web site includes the following excerpts from the CW with my commentary added:
[150/77]: THERE IS AN A PRIORI FACTOR IN ALL HUMAN ACTIVITIES, NAMELY THE INBORN, PRECONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS INDIVIDUAL STRUCTURE OF THE INBORN." Feminism thus becomes an integral element in our texts. From Jocasta to Gertrude to Mina Harker, Elizabeth, Matilda, and now Sophie, do women have an authentic voice? Does the animus repress the anima? The archetype is MOTHER, and its repression comes from incestuous taboos. The Romantics, of course, have both metaphorically and literally explored this theme. See: Wordsworth, Byron, and characters in the novels. Shelley's revision of Frankenstein is important, as are elements in The Monk. Further, in Lord of the Rings, how does Tolkien address the issue? Interestingly, if Adam and Eve is the root metaphor for the Judeo-Christian creation myth, then are we all brothers and sisters? Does the repression of the mother archetype account for misogynistic behavior? Jung here argues that the collective unconscious has its own a priori existence in a 'time' before opposites become identified. Is there a parallel here, philosophically, to Kant's categories?
Jung states: "THE PSYCHE IS FAR FROM BEING A HOMO-GENEOUS UNIT--ON THE CONTRARY, IT IS A BOILING CAULDRON OF CONTRADICTORY IMPULSES, INHIBITIONS...FOR MANY PEOPLE THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THEM IS SO INSUPPORTABLE, THAT THEY EVEN WISH FOR THE DELIVERANCE PREACHED BY THEOLOGIANS." [190/104]. Is that what Teabing proposes for humanity, and how about for himself?
Importantly for the Romantic-gothic parallel, Jung cites Nietzsche's superman, the triumph of the romantic Ego that goes mad when confronted with conscious repression of this archetype: "God is dead, and we have killed him," Nietzsche said. How? Is this repression of the archetype, and what is the consequence? Click here for details on the Gothic web site's discussion of Nietzsche.
Jung discussion of the mother archetype references the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, an important aspect of the sacred feminine, discussed also by Brown. Jung argues, "THE RICHLY VARIED ALLEGORIES OF THE MOTHER OF GOD HAVE NEVERTHELESS RETAINED SOME CONNECTION WITH HER PAGAN PREFIGURATIONS..." [195/107]. Earlier in these pages, we have presented conflicting critical views on this assumption. Teabing certainly believes it, but why?
3. As they ponder the keystone mystery. "...everything went black." (p. 286)
1. Does moral philosophy justify Silas' attack; "GOD ALONE judges the worthy," Silas thought (p. 287) [Caps. and italics in the text]. How would an existentialist respond? What constitutes worthy? Recall our discussion of The Book of Job. (Click here for my commentary.) The text does seem to have existential themes--what does Job decide to so after he rejects the 'wisdom' of his three friends, and what kind of language does he use? What kind of wisdom do the three friends offer?
2. Shots spur Collet into action, the monk is subdued via his own cilice (irony?), and Teabing asks, "But why would Opus Dei be trying to find the Holy Grail?" (p. 289).
3. For those who argue that Brown slanders Opus Dei, should read Langdon's reflections as the chapter concludes.
-Chapters 66 and 67:
1. The plot advances...the police (Collet) enter Teabing's estate, but only after Teabing and company including a captive monk manage a clandestine escape.
2. Is Teabing right, p. 294, in warning that Silas is part of a conspiracy, most of which is unknown. If the answer is obviously yes, and if the critics were correct in detecting errors in the novel's historiography--sometimes with delight (I saw a television documentary during which a Minister, after 'demolishing' the novel figuratively, tried to do so literally--he threw the book across the stage), then how astute were we in uncovering Watergate and especially 9-11?.
3. Question for the critics--who else from the not too distant past destroyed books they disapproved of: Click here, and notice what the figure in the picture is doing.
4. The 'Grail quest' will soon involve England, but note as the chapter concludes Brown's use of the 'dear reader' unlimited omniscient point of view: As the captive and bound Silas prays for a miracle, Brown adds, "Silas had no way of knowing that hours from now, he would get one." (p. 297). What does that line ultimately foreshadow?
-Chapters 68 and 69:
1. Jonas Faukman's revelation that he sent advanced copies of Langdon's goddess worship manuscript to Sauniere provides an important to clue to the novel's opening...(p. 300). See page 156 of Eble's book for an anagram.
2. While in flight to England, Sophie's role in history certainly has existential dimensions. Personal responsibility for the keystone (and she doesn't know the half of that ramification yet) must be terrifying. She holds the key to a 'truth' "...capable of altering history forever." (p. 302). Teabing's questioning her resolve might recall similar dilemmas that perhaps the text mimes: the trial of Socrates, the 'stand' taken by Luther, Neil Armstrong on the moon, Tiger Woods (who is mentioned) as the world's best player. Both Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry were told their respective writings would never be popular, and as discussed before, John Donne was dismissed until T.S. Eliot. There are indeed parallels. So Langdon is correct in responding to Teabing that she has quite a load dropped on her (p. 303).
3. Do you think Teabing speaks fairly in equating Silas' purpose with the Church's. Later in the novel, a plot twist will address this issue.
1. In this short chapter, Fache learns his prey have 'escaped.' Notice again Fache's anger directed at his subordinate. What is the real reason?
1. More strange text on the keystone box (p.306), but The 'sacred feminine' comes to the rescue as Sophie's 'wisdom' decodes the mystery. Her feeling insecure (p. 308) next to a Harvard Symbologist and Royal Historian, both men, may dramatize how women are treated in male-dominated corporate America. I find it fascinating as an entertainment industry parallel that The West Wing remained on television so long, and Commander in Chief was canceled. In the latter show, it was fascinating to watch the old line male political establishment take orders from a woman president.
2. Historically, Leonardo's Codex Leicester provides the clue that a cryptologist such as Sophie would recognize. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's web site discusses the manuscript. The cite quotes Vasari (who investigated Leonardo's left-handedness) as observing, "Leonardo "made a notebook drawn in red chalk and hatched in pen," with illustrations of the frame of the bones, nerves, and muscles, and next to each drawing, "part by part, he wrote in letters of an ill-shaped character, which he made with the left hand, backward; and whoever is not practiced in reading them cannot understand them, since they are not to be read save with a mirror."
The web page later adds, "The following note can be found on folio 2 verso of what was once part of the late-seventeenth- or early-eighteenth-century binding of the Codex Leicester (among the pages added by early collectors, preceding the pages of Leonardo's original manuscript; see cat. no. 114):16 "Vinci used to write in a left-handed manner, according to the practice of the Jews, this being the manner in which those sixteen volumes are written that we have already mentioned, and the character [of the writing] being good, it could be read rather easily by means of a large mirror; it is probable that he did this so that not all could read his writings so easily."
The controversial element is whether Da Vinci created a 'code' to encrypt knowledge of the Priory's secret.
1 .The text is 'decoded' on page 311, and as an English teacher, I was interested in seeing the message written, as the novel notes, in iambic pentameter. Prior to reading Brown, I had thought of Iambic pentameter in terms of Chaucer (the 'father' of English poetry), and of course Shakespeare as its two best practitioners. Iambic pentameter best mimes the syllabic patterns of the English language, but I had never thought of the pattern in terms of male and female archetypes, but interestingly, the pattern is unstressed (U) followed by stressed (/) repeated 5 times in a line of verse.
The atbash cipher code we learn is the key as are the Templars (recall The Templar Revelation cited in these pages). The code dates back to 500 BC, and is described as a Hebrew encoding system. (p. 312) Professor Gary Britton has done an extensive analysis of the code in the novel. Click here for an .html version which can be converted to .ppt
4. So a headstone "...praised by the Templars" (p. 312) must be found.
1. Impatiently, Fache awaits the landing of the plane bringing the 'fugitives' from France; he will travel to London to do so. (Is that legal?)
1. Chapter 74 at last reveals what Sophie saw as a child that so revolted her..the HIEROS GAMOS or sacred marriage (p. 316) which the novel describes as a sexual spiritual act which, by uniting the sacred feminine with her male 'other' realizes "...a climactic instant when his mind went totally blank and he could see God." (p. 316). Langdon concurs when Sophie questions this as "Orgasm as prayer?" (p. 317). He further suggests the rite was at the core of Jewish tradition and explains the ritual was enacted in Holy of Holies as validated linguistically, with YHWH combining JAH (masculine) and HAVAN (feminine, Eve), p. 318. Critics have seen this interpretation as linguistically and morally grotesque, misinformed and blasphemous. (See below.)
2. The Glossary to Secrets of the Code (and the related web site) provides this comment: "He [Sophie's grandfather] was likely to have been involved in the rite of hieros gamos, sometimes referred to as theogamy or hierogamy, a term loosely meaning sacred marriage or divine marriage. This marriage, in the words of scholar David H. Garrison, is the holy marriage, the union of goddess and god that provides the paradigm for all human unions. This holy marriage was reenacted, in various levels of realism, throughout the early religious history of mankind; remnants of the practice still remain with us todayas depicted in the recent movie Eyes Wide Shut. Some Eastern belief systems have analogs, such as Tantric sex rites." (p.343). Now a Google search for David H. Garrison provides less than 20 hits, all but two of which have no connection to this topic. The two that do cite the above passage. Garrison is not included in any of Burstein's sources, nor does his biography appear under Contributors."
3. Does Campbell offer a perspective? Noting that God as transcendent, and can only be known through how we speak as humans--that is in opposites, he says, " The ultimate word in our English language, for that which is transcendent is God. But then you have a concept...You think of God as the father. Now, in religions where the god or creator is the mother, the whole world is her body. There is nowhere else. The male god is usually somewhere else. But male and female are two aspects of one principle. The division of life into sexes was a late division...I don't know at what levels sexuality comes in, but it's late. That's why it is absurd to speak of God as of either this sex or that sex. The divine power is antecedent to sexual separation." (The Power of Myth, pp. 49-50) He adds, "...to "transcend" means to go past duality...and each of us is the incarnation of God...this is represented in the mystery religions, where an individual goes through a series of initiations opening him outside into a deeper and deeper depth of himself, and there comes a moment when he realizes that he is both mortal and immortal, male and female." (p. 50)
4. Is that what Brown's rite is supposed to dramatize? Are we seeing a metaphoric re-enactment of a concept that cannot really dramatized in any other way? Stanford University has a related article on Mystery religions. The Essay was written by Dr. Martin Luther King. Recall how this excerpt mirrors what Campbell and later The Templar Revelation remarked concerning the relationship between Christianity and Isis: "There can hardly be any doubt that the myths of Isis had a direct bearing on the elevation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to the lofty position that she holds in Roman Catholic theology. As is commonly known Isis had two capacities which her worshippers warmly commended her for. Firstly, she was pictured as the lady of sorrows, weeping for the dead Osiris, and secondly she was commended as the divine mother, nursing her infant son, Horus. In the former capacity she was identified with the great mother-goddess, Demeter, whose mourning for Persephone was the main feature in the Eleusinian mysteries. In the latter capacity Isis was represented in tens of thousands of statuettes and paintings, holding the divine child in her arms. Now when Christianity triumphed we find that these same paintings and figures became those of the Madonna and child with little or no difference... In fact archaeologists are often left in confusion in attempting to distinguish the one from the other."
See also my article on Oedipus and the Oracle at Delphi. The rites rituals performed there to gain Apollo's wisdom had sexual connotations, and of course drama in the west traces its origins to the Dionsysian (in man, sacred feminine principle of passion in opposition to the male rational principle?) : click here for Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy essay. Nietzsche notes of the Greeks: "How else could this people, so sensitive, so vehement in its desires, so singularly constituted for suffering, how could they have endured existence if it had not been revealed to them in their gods, surrounded with a higher glory? The same impulse which calls art into being, as the complement and consummation of existence, seducing one to a continuation of life, was also the cause of the Olympian world which the Hellenic "will" made use of as a transfiguring mirror. Thus do the gods justify the life of man, in that they themselves live it--the only satisfactory theodicy! Existence under the bright sunshine of such gods is regarded as desirable in itself, and the real grief of the Homeric men is caused by parting from it." Have we parted from it, and is the Hieros Gamos a dramatization of the attempt to reconcile sundered opposites, and thus transcend?
5. A romantic period treatment of this theme is Shelly's Ode to the West Wind.:
Thou [the wind] on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning! they are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Mænad, ev'n from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst:O hear!
Recall how the poem ends...with what series of analogies, and with what exhortation? One of the reasons romantic / gothic literature is often critiqued is for its seemingly shocking violation of conventional themes including incest. So the gothic yet conservative Anglican poet Coleridge found The Monk shocking. See the last chapters for the 'crimes' of Ambrosio. Other references would include Wordsworth and Dorothy, the Shelley's and Frankenstein, Stoker and Dracula and obviously "mad bad and dangerous to know" Byron. Click here to read British Literature and Gothic Fiction course notes. Would this literature be less shocking if it were discussed more openly, and has the willingness of The Da Vinci Code to do this occasioned so much pejorative criticism?
6. So the literal vs. metaphoric read is essential here. For example, Hosea 1:1-2 reads,
1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash [a] king of Israel:
2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
7. Now does the Bible sanctions prostitution--union with the 'sacred feminine?' The Collegeville Bible Commentary (Dianne Bergant ed. Collegeville, Mi, 1988) clarifies in Caroll Stuhlmueller's article on this text: "It is important to note at the outset that in real life Hosea was the faithful spouse and Gomer the adulterous sinner, but in the application of this background to Israel, the ones targeted most as unfaithful harlots were the religious and civil leaders...all of the male sex...[so these verses dramatize] "...never a story for its own sake but as a religious symbol about Israel."(p. 499), actually Israel's unfaithfulness to God. Confusing the literal with the metaphoric can lead to serious misreads.
8. Dr. D. James Kennedy's book, The Da Vinci Myth vs. The Gospel Truth (p.26) sees this chapter as outright blasphemy, in fact warning readers to be prepared to refute the heresy. In fact, Kennedy argues elsewhere that the popularity of Brown's novel comes in part from its advocacy of "...divine approval of sexual promiscuity." (p. 59), an idea he thinks would find favor with those abandoning needed guidelines. The National Catholic Weekly's web site observes,
Apropos of Judaism, Brown introduces some stunning errors about ritualistic sex and God. Old Testament scholars agree that prostitution was sometimes used to obtain money for the temple. But there is no convincing evidence for sacred or ritual prostitution, and none at all for Israelite men coming to the temple to experience the divine and achieve spiritual wholeness by having sex with priestesses (p. 309). On the same page, Brown explains that the Holy of Holies housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah. A word not found as such in the Bible but in later rabbinic writings, Shekinah refers to the nearness of God to his people and not to some female consort.
It is also breathtaking nonsense to assert as a fact that the sacred tetragrammaton, YHWH, was derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah. YHWH is written in Hebrew without any vowel signs. Jews did not pronounce the sacred name, but Yahweh was apparently the correct vocalization of the four consonants. In the 16th century some Christian writers introduced Jehovah, under the mistaken notion that the vowels they used were the correct ones. Jehovah is an artificial name created less than 500 years ago, and certainly not an ancient, androgynous name from which YHWH derived.
(Click here for The National Catholic Weekly's web site )
9. This chapter is so pivotal that I wanted to cite a Jewish source. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon as cited by Rabbi Wein's The Voice of Jewish History said, ""Every person who enters this world, whose spirit moves him and his intellect instructs him, to separate himself [from the pettiness of the world] in order to stand before God, to truly serve Him, to be responsible to Him, to know Him, and to walk upright and straight in His paths as God created him; and he has freed himself from the yoke of petty human considerations that other people pursue - such a person has sanctified himself as being holy of holies, and the Lord is his share and inheritance for all time and all worlds, and he will receive in the World to Come his proper and fulfilling [reward] as God has given such to the Priests and the Levites." Such would seem to contradict what Brown has argued, once again cautioning about the dangers of confusing the literal and the metaphoric. If Brown chooses to dramatize proximity to God, a transcendent experience, via a sexual union--then he may do so as a fictional lure, but there is danger here.
10. Henry James noted that one cannot tell an ugly story (and many think this chapter morally so), without a beautiful counter part appearing. Such of course would complete a dialectic. Does this chapter do so? A serious question comes from Langdon, "Is it surprising we feel conflicted about sex?" (p. 318). However non-mainstream this chapter appears to the orthodox, the question cannot be evaded. He goes on to comment on sex as a natural and cherished route to "spiritual fulfillment," as it should be, and he adds by commenting on modern religion decrying it as "...shameful, teaching us to fear our sexual desire as the hand of the devil." (p. 318). Perhaps we need the classical idea of balance. All one need do is read Victorian gothic fiction to understand the consequences of repression. While teaching Dracula, a student remarked she was having nightmares about the book, and not surprisingly, I thought. Think about what the novel dramatizes. From my web page on the novel, consider the following in the present context:.
A. sexuality--dreams & rape (2 kinds) / homosexuality / gasping / lust / orgasm
D. clinical - scientific language
E. mirrors / shaving
F. garlic and the cross and the host and wood
G. the Bible: Christ, the anti-Christ and John the Baptist
H. the body; eyes and teeth and gums and throat and lips and gum and skin
I. colors: red and white--blood and skin and teeth
J. animals: dogs and flies and wolves and bats
K. feminism and new women
L. technology (see Gothic page web site)
N. east and west--the importance of soil
Q. madness and insanity
S. mother / father / wife / husband figures: jealousy
T. prostitution / masturbation / homosexuality: friend John
V.Victorian funeral practices,
W. child abuse
X.Little Red Riding Hood
Y. hypnosis, mesmerism and physiognomy
Z. so what is Dracula as monster--what were the fears of the day?
V. dreams and nightmares concerning:
1. sexuality and the fear of the husband's potency
3. racism--(anticipates Hitlers "hoards" from the east)
4. colonialism / xenophobia
5. the anti-christ (where does Dracula land in England?)
No wonder she had nightmare. The consequences of repression are dangerous as Jung noted, but today, and the critics are correct, we have swung to the opposite side with an anything goes mentality. Consider the following statistics: from the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network and the U.S. Department of Justice
Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes.
Between 1995 and 1996, more than 670,000 women were the victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
Approximately 68% of rape victims knew their assailant.
One of every four rapes takes place in a public area or in a parking garage.
29% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger.
68% of rapes occur between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM.
At least 45% of rapists were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.
In 47% of rapes, the victim sustained injuries other than rape injuries.
75% of female rape victims require medical care after the attack.
According to the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, approximately one-third of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse are children younger than 6 years old.
One in two rape victims is under age 18; one in six is under age 12.
About 81% of rape victims are white; 18% are black; 1% are other races.
In 1995, 32,130 males age 12 and older were victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
Teens 16 to 19 were three and one-half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
Those with a household income under $7,500 were twice as likely as the general population to be victims of a sexual assault.
The Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network.
11. The mean comes from the Bible. "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). God did not condemn sexuality (recall Cana), but its misuse. Pope Paul VI understood this in Humanae Vitae (July 25, 1968): "Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that menespecially the young, who are so vulnerable on this pointhave need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance."
I believe the novel, even in this 'blasphemous' chapter offers ideas worth discussing. Brown anticipated the criticism by having Langdon respond to a male student's quip about whether he was advocating more sex. Langdon responded:
"The next time you find yourself with a woman, look in your heart and see if you cannot approach sex as a mystical, spiritual act. Challenge yourself to find that spark of divinity that man can only achieve through union with the sacred feminine." (p. 319) How inconsistent is this view with the Church's teaching that sex must occur in a moral context? In arguing for context, Langdon makes clear he is not condoning premarital sex, and when finishing his remarks, the female students " smile knowingly", but the men giggle and make off color jokes. Read Langdon's response on page 319.
11. Being too young to understand what she saw her grandfather, Sophie of course is repulsed, but is part of her 'Grail' quest to understand the ideas outlined here; ideas that emanate from and transcend the literal?
12. A philosophical validation of hieros gamos with which Brown might agree concludes Richard Tarnas' The Passion of the Western Mind (New York: Ballantine, 1991). Tarnas believes humanity is on the verge of a dialectic that will finally emancipate the feminine: "The Western intellectual tradition, he argues, has been produced and canonized almost entirely by men...[which] has not occurred because women are any less intelligent than men." (p.441)
Referencing Jung, Tarnas suggests that an "...epochal shift is taking place in the contemporary psyche; a reconciliation between the two great polarities, a union of opposites: a hieors gamos (sacred marriage) between the long-dominate but now alienated masculine and the long-suppressed but now ascending feminine...this has all along been the underlying goal of Western intellectual and spiritual evolution . For the deepest passion of the Western mind has been to reunite with the ground of its own being...to come to terms with the great feminine principle in life, and thus to recover its connection with the whole: to differentiate itself from but then discover and reunite with the feminine, with the mystery of life, of nature, of soul." (p. 443). Has this not what Brown has been dramatizing?
The Passion of the Western Mind should be read in total. How Tarnas' hypothesis developed from the Greeks to the postmoderns is sublimely traced, and parenthetically I would wonder how Tarnas' impeccable scholarship could be demeaned by any Brown critic.
1. Back to the pursuit... does Aringarosa have a conscience? Is he genuinely worried about Silas? How will these questions be answered as the novel concludes?
2. He orders his pilot to change course (for a price) to London. Why?
1. It is clear retrospectively that Sophie does love her grandfather. That is important.
2. The mission, of course, the quest is to decode the keystone to correlate a grave site with the Templars. (Langdon's account of their demise is a matter of critical dispute, but what isn't in this book?) Their worshiping of Baphomet (pictured on page 124) is critique in The Templar Revelation pp. 109-110). In the chapter, the horned figure is seen as a fertility symbol; not the (horned) devil.
-Chapters 77 and 78:
1. Much of this chapter dramatizes Brown's fondness for secrete codes. (See Eble, p. 159), but the deciphering reveals that Baphomet via Hebrew (using the Atbash Cipher) becomes SH-V-P-Y-A .. 327) or SOFIA, the password needed to unlock the box.
2. The password works, revealing yet another mystery inside: IN LONDON LIES A KING A POPE INTERRED. (p. 330)
-Chapter 79 and 80:
1. This chapter's revelations to Collet at Teabing's estate regarding a gothic cathedral's entrance shaped like a woman's womb (pictured p. 331), plus a list of the Grand Masters from Les Dossier Secrets have been discredited as these pages have observed. They of course do not know what they have.
2. Collet, however, recalls meeting Vernet before and ponders what his role in the Langdon-Sophie mystery might be.
3. Teabing and company are alarmed when informed that their plane to England must land directly at the terminal. How many international laws have they already broken?