Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Yep, that's me. I'll wait for the movie. Got other books to read. No, I'm not Catholic, not fanatically devoted to the Pope, not part of the Spanish Inquisition... just not interested in yet another conspiracy theory involving the Vatican.

To further convince me that I should remain The Last Man On Earth who hasn't read that bestselling novel, here is Geoffrey K. Pullum's analysis (or should I say evisceration) of the mangled language, style and syntax in THE DA VINCI CODE:

"The Dan Brown code"

By the way, I have a theory about the success of that book: let's call it "Displaced Paranoia." For obvious reasons, many people today fear a certain form of religious extremism which can lead to terrorism and oppression. But since this fear is so great, people are scared even to express it.

And when the pressure of this anxiety becomes almost unbearable, people will find a "safe" outlet for it: the fear and paranoia that they cannot digest or express, is projected onto the Vatican - a religious/political institution which was once feared and powerful.

To put it bluntly, THE DA VINCI CODE offers a perfect straw man for today's anxiety about religious fanatics. Do you want to sell millions of books? Do you worry that your writing skills just aren't good enough? Find that perfect target for displaced paranoia, and your success is guaranteed!

For example: if there is a widespread fear of, say, global warming, you don't write about the subject directly. Instead, find a "straw man" subject with a conspiracy theory attached. Your novel might be about a Russian supervillain who threatens to change the climate by artificial means... or an ancient conspiracy of Freemasons to cause the flooding of European cities.

The plot of your novel doesn't have to make too much sense, as long as it
A) Presents a metaphor for what the public really worries about;
B) Offers a paranoid conspiracy theory which blames a harmless institution/group as "behind it all."

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