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A Cheap Foucault’s Pendulum Rip-Off

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Dylan,Personal History,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 4:35 pm

“Have you read the Da Vincio…”

His voice trailed off, but I knew what he was talking about.

“No, I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code .”

“I was watching something on The History Channel about it…”

I could tell that he wanted to talk about a book he didn’t read and conspiracy theories he has only had a passing glance of. I went through my conspiracy theory phase in the early nineties, so I had no patience for him.

“I heard it was a cheap rip-off of Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I read Foucault’s Pendulum, so I didn’t bother with The Da Vinci Code. Foucault’s Pendulum was written in Italian and translated rather poorly, so maybe that’s…”

The phone rang and I answered it professionally even though I was in mid-rant. We never got back to the conversation and in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get to finish. I was about to talk about Portuguese, Latin and Italian. I was about to tell him how I regretted that I didn’t write the translations in my book so that my friends could read it. I was about to tell him about Dylan’s rant, “Bring me the head of Umberto Eco!”

I just looked up The Da Vinci Code at my library’s website. They have 10 books and 49 holds. Anyone who has stepped into a Barnes and Noble in the last year has seen the huge display of Da Vinci items. Apparently, The History Channel even has a show about it. All that popularity makes me recoil from it like a Britney Spears concert.

Yet, at one time, I was so intrigued by the idea of conspiracy theories that I was willing to slog through Foucault’s Pendulum. I looked up the Latin. I muddled my way through the Portuguese. I did my best with the Italian. I consumed the Templars. I was intrigued by the Kabala. I even chuckled at the thought that Mickey Mouse had a part in it all. I didn’t go all Illuminati or anything, but I enjoyed the ideas for a brief month or two in my life.

I liked the ideas in the past. Why do I recoil from them now? Is it just the popularity of them that makes me dismiss them with a “cheap rip-off” jab? I’m feeling guilty now and my words from this morning sound callous and hollow. I guess I should read the book. It’s not like it’s going to tax my intellect like Umberto’s did. I could probably read it over a weekend. I’m not waiting in line behind 49 people, though. I better buy my own copy.



  1. I read the books in opposite order. The Da Vinci Code first, Foucalt’s Pendulum second. They’re entirely different books. DVC is an incredibly fast read – if you have a day to devote to it, you’ll finish it that same day. As a result, it feels empty, though it tastes good going down, like eating McDonalds. FC took me quite some time to slog through, though the ending made up for a lot of the unnecessary elements that made up the first half of the book.

    In between those two books, I also read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which is just a hoot of a book wherein the authors decide that a lack of evidence in their theories is evidence enough that some unknown evidence exists. That’s what I get for buying a book at a grocery store while waiting for an oil change at the garage next door.

    Lots of people own a copy of DVC, so it probably wouldn’t be too hard to bum a copy off someone else.

    Comment by Sinistar — 12/23/2004 @ 9:20 pm

  2. I did read the both of them, An to my dismay, I did like DVC. But now, when the emotion is going down and I sit and remember the two wonderful months in Frankfurt when I read FP, and I just feel DVC lacks of something, there is more to the whole story than a few (easily resolved) riddles. DVC is a fst reading novel for a fast consuming culture that needs the entertainment but the mistery too. We are tired of our own shallow conversations, but we feed ourselves with such a text, and feel good doing so. Idon;t deny I liked it, but it makes me question, why is it so fashionably to talk about his new book, when FP is still despised because of its “intellectual”content? I don’t know, it is late and I am tires, but just to remind my self: Dan Brown is no good literature, Yanni is just a fad inspirational musician, sex and the city is not really philosophy for the modern woman and feng shui doesn’t apply to my Futon bed.

    Comment by SusanaGrey — 5/18/2005 @ 9:30 pm

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