Symbols Mislaid

Whatever anybody says, I do quite like Dan Brown’s writing. Not quite as much as the New York Times, it seems, but, enough. Purists argue, no doubt using big words like ‘metonymy’ that his style lacks class, but I think the associations between ‘da Vinci’ and ‘Symbol’ are intact, since similarly eerie nerve endings are remorselessly tweaked. The writing is a little bit too excitable for my own leisurely taste, I prefer my plotlines to unfold gently, curling upwards like good cigar smoke, and frequent and persistent use of italics is a technique I only employ when writing handouts for children with short attention spans. His, then,  is not an entry ticket to great writing, as if by picking up a Dan Brown and enjoying it will provide the reader with a gateway into literature; perhaps having finished it he might pick up ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ as his next good read. Cynic, know thyself. Bottom line is no one really knows why the hell we’re here or what we are doing, but we have had a riot of a time trying, however clumsily, to explain it all and convince others that we’re right. Some even try to tell us they hold the key to understanding, and the frisson is, we’re tempted to believe them.

That’s why Brown has had so much success. At times like these, we’re tempted to have little faith in anything and we’d all like to see the systems that failed us get a good kick in the slats. We can’t help but try to make sense of it all with these gigantic brains. Who doesn’t prefer a nut to the glow and the haze, especially when we have a chance to crack it?

The image is of a piece of early Native American pottery found in Arizona. It is significant because of its striking resemblance to the Masonic compass and square.

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