September 19th, 2005
So yeah, I finished The Da Vinci Code and wow, what a waste of three days' reading time. At the end I would have laughed hysterically... if I wasn't crying over my wasted time and brain power. I mean... seriously! I don't even know what happened with the whole Priory of Sion/ Leigh Teabag thing. it was all just too ridiculous for words. And oh my GOD the whole symbology thing. (Don't they call it semiotics?) kaleidoscopeyes, you were right on the money with the passionfruit thing. I mean, he proved himself that anything can be interpreted from all that bullshit by having two interpretations of the final message. It's so ironic that he used such a vague premise considering that these people were trying to prove the fallacy of church teachings - and yet, their "proof" is just as vague and symbolic and metaphoric as religious literatures. I know he alludes to this himself but that seems to me as justification for something which cannot be justified - you can't say "everything relies on faith" and then go on to structure a plot (or what passes as one in the absence of an actual plot), conflict, resolution and climax around something which you admit is completely subjective, impossible to prove and subject to so much interpretation? And, more than anything, completely and entirely uninteresting. No one gives a shit that there is a shape of an M in the last supper. I'm looking through my venetian blinds right now and seeing shapes that resemble the letter "I". Is this some deep symbol of my over-developed ego? It's absolute bullshit. Some of it, like the fact that he's drawn Mary Magdalene into the painting, is interesting. Random shapes are not. In fact, I'd say the most interesting thing I learnt from that book is that you can find the word "sex" written in the background in a scene of The Lion King. But the real issue is - why did I have to learn anything?
This really, really irks me. I hate the way things are going now; that fact is revered and fiction is considered a child's realm. I've mentioned more than once before that what makes me angrier than anything else is when a grown adult declares proudly "I don't read fiction, only non-fiction". I just can't understand it. All through history people have relied on folk-tales, legends and unsubstantiated beliefs to give their lives meaning and to explain what they otherwise could not. The author himself mentions this; that the "truth" about the bible should not be revealed because it is the faith that is important, not the factual basis or otherwise of what is being read. Who even knows what is fact or fiction? Things that were considered finite truth have been constantly disproved throughout history. Science is no more reliable than religion in explaining away the world. Fact is subjective.
People argue that the Da Vinci Code is comendable because it gets people who wouldn't usually read fiction to do so. Well fine... if it actually was fiction. What that book is is a whole bunch of "factual" information tied together by an incomprehensible plot and badly imagined characters. What's the point of reading "fiction" if that is all it is? One of the greatest things about fictional prose is revelling in the power of the written word. Dan Brown does not use the English language to any aeshtetic end in this book - he employs it as a tool and destroys it, abuses it and rapes it. I mean, even the first sentence is of such a poor quality than after reading it, one does not hold much hope for the rest of the novel. It simultaneously infuriates me and gives me renewed hope to think that someone who writes like a nine year old ESL speaker actually got published - and has the best selling book... ever. Meanwhile an acquaintance of mine, Donna Mazza, worked for the best part of a decade on her manuscript, labouring over every single word, and is only just being published now. Her novel is true literature, but if you don't live in Western Australia - or even if you do - I'm almost certain you haven't heard of it. So how the hell did this crackpot get published?
The world needs good fiction. More than anything, people need to understand the quality and value of fiction in its purest forms. Fiction that doesn't "change the way we see the world" or that does, but through the use of beautiful language and wonderful, three-dimensional characters that are almost - but not quite - real and fantastic - or all too real - settings and storylines. The Bell jar by Sylvia Plath, (many would argue it's practically a biography but I have done subtantial research to the contrary)A Widow for One Year by John Irving, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and every damned thing that Stephen King has ever written - particularly Hearts in Atlantis and "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". Mine obviously reflect the tastes of a young feminist would-be anthropologist but my God, there's been enough beautiful fiction written in the past decade in English for there to be something for everyone, before you even consider everything written in other languages, or everything that's been written in the past five hundred or so years. We don't need bullshit like the awful, awful waste of space that currently adorns my desk.
But don't take my word for it: the most convincing piece of evidence is right there in the first pages of the book itself. Amongst four pages of "praise" for the book, one review excerpt declares it "the pulp must-read of the season". and... they're selling this in the "literature" section of Angus and Robertson? Holy shit. Any book which would declare itself proudly in its own opening pages as pulp - or, as is more likely - does not realise this to be an insult... well, it's certainly not worth my while. I only hope the rest of the world's population can think as highly of themselves as me with my over-developed ego that sees the letter I in venetian blinds...
Oh and Mr Brown? I can think of something else that starts with "M". No it's not "Mary" or "Mary Magdalene" or "Mother". It's what Da Vinci would have thought of your "novel":
|Date:||September 19th, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC)|| |
just my opinion...
Yep, I basically agree. I couldn't put it down when I was reading it, but that was about it... all of the "factual" stuff was ridiculously poorly structured and the so-called "point" of the novel disproved itself about ten times over.
Who even knows what is fact or fiction? Things that were considered finite truth have been constantly disproved throughout history. Science is no more reliable than religion in explaining away the world. Fact is subjective.
I don't agree with that, though - there are some facts that definitely aren't subjective. Sure there's a chance that we could disprove that the Earth is vaguely spherical, but I think the probability of that happening is fairly low. And (especially in the last few centuries) many "finite facts" have tended to be refined, rather than disproven in most cases (eg whatshisface's theory of how the planets moved, which turned out to be only a special case of a general theory that was discovered later... ah I forget but you get the idea). But anyway that's beside the point and one of those arguments that can't really be resolved.
People argue that the Da Vinci Code is comendable because it gets people who wouldn't usually read fiction to do so. Well fine... if it actually was fiction. What that book is is a whole bunch of "factual" information tied together by an incomprehensible plot and badly imagined characters. What's the point of reading "fiction" if that is all it is?
I thought it was interesting because the premise of the book was so "new" and "shocking" - but the novel itself read like a bad philosophy essay. The facts were dodgy if you look at them closely, and the "debate" of the book (there's gotta be a better word for that, but I don't know what it is) was pretty damn dodgy too. He ended up agreeing with the philosophical approach to religion and faith anyway. What was the point? I couldn't help thinking that he ended that way so as not to offend anyone too badly, which is pretty pissweak if you start out writing a book that aims to shock.
Basically it was just a bit dumb. Good thriller, not really literature.
|Date:||September 20th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)|| |
Re: just my opinion...
I agree, very un-put-downable. But in the way that a car crash is impossible to pass without looking at it. Or... a chocolate cake with a million calories just can't be turned down even though you know it's terribly bad for you.
What I meant about the fact uis subjective thing... I don't know, obviously I failed maths and science, it's not my area, but people persecuted Galilleo - is that who you were talking about? - because they were so sure the sun revolved around the earth - they were SURE - and then it turns out that the bible said the earth revolves around the sun anyway. And they were SURE thalidomide would be a great fertility drug. I don't know. I agree that it's almost certain that things like that won't be disproven but people were sure of other things in the past... it's difficult. But as I said - failed year ten science. So...