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Spoiler Alert–The Lost Symbol October 25, 2009

Posted by caveblogem in Books.
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I guess it should be no surprise to me that I am not part of the demographic for which Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol was written. I find myself very irritated by the protagonist, who I find wimpy and self-righteous and boneheaded.  How could Tom Hanks have wanted to play this guy on the big screen?  An example:

Then watch ESPN, Langdon thought, always amused to see professional athletes point skyward in gratitude to God after a touchdown or home run.  He wondered how many knew they were continuing a pre-Christian mystical tradition of acknowledging the mystical power above, which, for one brief moment, had transformed them into a god capable of miraculous feats. –pp 87

Can you continue a tradition without knowing it?  What if the meaning you are trying to convey is: we’re #1?  And why does this amuse our symbologist?  The first two questions are rhetorical, of course.  The answer to the third is because he thinks he is superior to them.  I would love to take the guy to a sports bar to watch a game, and I actually smiled briefly during the part of the book where you are supposed to think that he has drowned.

But I do find myself wondering who it is that makes up his main demographic, the people who like this Robert Langdon and identify with him in the way you are supposed to care about protagonists of bestsellers.

See, much of the tension in the plot of The Lost Symbol depends upon the reader feeling that the unearthing of a secret by its central villain will be incredibly destructive.  The reader is unsure what constitutes this secret until very nearly the end of the book.  We are led to assume that the consequences will be on par with an atomic bomb.

Langdon turned to her trying to speak, but he could find no words.  It didn’t matter.  Understanding was written all over his face  Sato was right. Tonight was a national security crisis . . . of unimaginable proportions. (ellipsis in original, I’m afraid, pp. 438)

So when I finally get to the denouement of  this terrible secret, that many high-ranking politicians are Masons, and were caught on videotape doing their Masonic rituals, and the villain is going to send the video to major media outlets, I am mystified.  You read that last sentence correctly, not Mansons, he’s writing about Masons. And this is supposed to be a bad thing because people won’t understand.  There will be a sort of witch hunt that will lead to total chaos.

I have nothing against Masons.  But I found myself thinking that it would not be the tragedy he makes it out to be.  Secret rooms for Masonic rituals in the Capitol building sub-basement?  Covert brotherhoods among the most powerful people in the country?  The Director of the CIA scrambling operatives to keep all this stuff secret?  Maybe I am a little angry about the mismanagement of this country over the last (pick a number) years, but I found myself thinking: Bring on the videotape, bring on the chaos.

So, naturally, I found myself wondering, who, when reading this part of the book, breaths a sigh of relief, thinking “gosh, I’m glad they were able to keep that stuff under wraps”?

Comments»

1. SilverTiger - October 25, 2009

I listened to the Da Vinci Code on tape because Tigger likes Dan Brown, but I have no desire to read or listen to anymore of this stuff. But then, I’m a snob.

I don’t think those who like reading Dan Brown necessarily take the stories seriously any more than they take the Bond stories seriously or, say, Tom and Jerry. That doesn’t necessarily interfere with the fun of reading it.

2. kf gallagher - November 6, 2009

Off topic but hey! I’m doing Nano this year and I just started and my goal is 35,000 words this month (I have 15000 on the novel already). Start peeking at my blog again for updates..I’ll need a bit of cheering on!


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