sepoy notes: Apparently, DaVinci Code made 200 plus million $s around the globe this weekend. Understand how Tom Hanks’ Coif triumphed over the Pope’s Mitre by reading the conclusion of Farangi’s charming foray into historical memory.
V. Pass Go, Collect Awareness
The DaVinci Code begins where it ends‚Äîat the Louvre. Paulo Coelho‚Äôs charming The Alchemist begins where it ends. John Fowles‚Äô, The Magus ‚Äî a vexing novel of initiation, also begins where it ends. To Einstein, matter and energy form an eternal loop of exchange. Phillip Dick‚Äôs Martian Time Slip whipsaws us through time, repeatedly touching the same place. Donnie Darko revisits the past to understand his present. The movie Memento keeps returning us to go before it reveals its intent. And those of us persistent or stoned enough to make it through Finnegan‚Äôs Wake found ourselves back at Adam and Eve‚Äôs house.
Like most Occult organizations‚Äô processes, Freemasonry‚Äôs schedule of initiation also begins where it ends‚Äîafter terrifying ordeals, the initiate finds himself on the other side of Chapel Perilous, still alas himself, alone, back in the world, but changed.
This is the ultimate Secret, and value, and joke, of the Occult. Through a progressive system of clues, shocks, dead ends and revealing, an initiate learns to pay close attention to the world around him, and that the ultimate end of all ‚Äúmagickal‚Äù operations is quite mundane‚Äîthere is magic in everyday life, and one need only open his eyes to see. Yet how much hard is it for us, who spend most of our hours in two dimensions, to stop and smell the Rosicrucians? The philosophers told us. Aliester Crowley told us. We‚Äôre sleeping. And it‚Äôs hard to wake up without subjecting ourselves to shocks.
This is why I claimed earlier to believe each of the Templar legends. In fact, I believe none of them, but I also don‚Äôt disbelieve any of them, either, especially to the exclusionary benefit of normative received wisdom. However, I have learned through practice to be as humble as an admitted megalomaniac can be‚Äîwhat the fuck do I know? I can‚Äôt dismiss any of them out of hand, no matter how easy that might make discussions with Sepoy. The mere fact that I have been conditioned, through study and practice, to doubt, to expect proof, to suspect the motives of those whose comfort is ensured by singular, easy belief, leaves me shrugging my shoulders. Even where madness is concerned, I try to think in probabilities, not possibilities. This may have come naturally to some of you. As I was raised a fundamentalist, It didn‚Äôt for me, and was a long time coming.
The weirdness ascribed to sane Occultists, and the powers alleged to its sincere practitioners, is the powerful weirdness of those who are awake, or enlightened. Try, one day, to live as a Freemason‚Äôs Lodge, or the Buddhists eightfold path directs‚Äîwith full attention to now, with an open heart, and a will to do good. The world will appear different, and you will appear different to the world.
As many Westerners are ostensibly Christians, and until the 20th century, our faiths‚Äîespecially Catholicism‚Äîhave been very guilty of propagating the memes, and working the levers of the goddamn apparati mentioned above. This conflicts terribly with the words our forefathers laid out for us, but not, perhaps with the words they preferred we not read, e.g., the Gnostic gospels.
The current obsession with the DaVinci Code reflects the latest attempt by those who see gender equality as a matter, and obligation, of faith to reframe tired arguments about faith‚Äîbetween conservatives and reformers‚Äîas a discussion of basic premises; asking, finally, what if we need to start over? What if our suppositions are wrong?
It would appear to be an effort that is more concerted than spontaneous. Whether or not the planning takes place in some Dr. Strangelove war room (and it most likely has not), like minded people have decided, perhaps independently of one another, that the time is finally right to challenge some of the most basic precepts of Christianity. Be they Templars, Cathars, Albigensians, Anabaptists, Lutherans, Masons, Mormons, Jehovah‚Äôs Witnesses, or whomever, Christian history is full of characters acting in loose concert for change.
This is a possible scenario, and the one I encourage you to consider: adherents to Templarism cum Freemasonry/European Occultism, and sundry fellow travelers, have, since the 18th century, had a rough time with the whole enlightenment thing. The French Revolution‚Äîan overplayed hand. The forces of reaction have, even today, run up to the ramparts of the Scientific Method itself; the twentieth century was a long, blood-bath pause dominated by crazy wars over economics. Religious nuts seem to rule the hour.
But with the Catholic Church reeling from institutionalized pederasty, and with a rising disgust worldwide over the myopic policies of conservative, right-wing elites‚Äîprominent among them Protestants‚Äîthere has been a general darkness creeping over the globe, and a desire by people to find a new way to look at the world. I have listened to Radiohead‚Äôs Kid A. I know of what I speak.
Plantard‚Äôs surrealist, solipsistic, Cocteau-inspired whisperings‚Äîwhich were a reserving of Templar myths, which were themselves, as we have suggested, the seedbed of the Enlightenment and the Western Occult tradition‚Äîinspired Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln to broadcast a very heretical, but intriguing view‚Äîthat the West could have an alternative to the queer ideas that now hold us in thrall. We can have a humanistic, egalitarian, sex-positive Christianity that moves us past a Madonna/Whore dichotomy, and the bullshit, and painfully evident cultural-dissatisfaction, such nonsense inspires. The Christian faith needn‚Äôt be an altar-boy buggering sausage party, but a living, vibrant thing that recognizes life as it is, and wonders, with eager hands, what could be. Millions read, and believed.
Yet people believe stories, not facts, and Brown, who shares a publisher with Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, stamped out a potboiler polemic dramatizing narratives that were once the contemplative province of weekend magi, like myself. The book, as we know, has owned publishing for five years. It was inevitable that the notion would take itself to Hollywood, bringing 30% of the books audience with it, as true believers. And now, over a billion people‚Äîmost of them conditioned to listen to controversies related to Christianity‚Äîwill hear.
All of this requires agreement, at every level, which I call a small-c conspiracy. Perhaps a narrative journey that began with a mourning, pregnant widow landing on the Riviera, with her consort, Joseph of Arimathea, and pops throughout European history, as though to test the wind for the right scents‚Äîfirst as a claim to right of rule, then as a matter of nationalist tradition, then as a continent wide raison d‚Äôtre for lovers, artists and intellectuals, then as a basis for heresy, then as a cause for great hoax-art, then as a non-fiction bestseller, then as a brittle pulp novel beloved by millions is ready‚Äîis ready to come to light once and for all, and nudge us back toward go.
If 450 Million people suddenly become Christian heretics, and begin having quasi-pagan orgies in adoration of the whore that Christ purportedly came to love, does that make Brown‚Äôs thesis more palatable? No. Has Brown written history? No. But historians‚Äîwho, whether they know it or not‚Äîemploy the critical thinking principles a Mason learns as a matter of practice, and might as well be brothers of the 3rd degree, needn‚Äôt worry that false histories will take root.
Historians should sit back and watch, because courtesy Dan Brown, and the loosely coordinated remaining bedfellows of the Enlightenment, the culture en masse may just be starting the journey that most academics took at an early age‚Äîa narrative took hold‚ÄîWashington‚Äôs cherry tree, the Muslim invasion of the Sindh, what have you‚Äîand as the thoughts and thinker matured, the bogus narrative became tarnished with inconvenient truths. But by then the narrative was not what mattered‚Äîa love for stories, and the shreds of evidence we bend and weave to make them, and awareness of the human impetus to do so, has brought the historian to higher levels of awareness. Those dedicated enough, like their Masonic pals, even receive ‚Äúdegrees‚Äù for their efforts.
What I see underway is the first in a long stage of universal Western initiation‚Äîan induction of half the globe, if you will. Following the pattern of all Occult organizations, those small-c conspirators in the DaVinci code‚Äôs orbit‚ÄîHollywood greedheads, Occultists, literati, big and small-c conspiracy theorists, and freethinkers of every stripe–are asking readers, viewers and thinkers to ask the basic question that moves both philosophers and conspiracy theorists‚Äîwhy, and why not? This is to the detriment of free-thought‚Äôs traditional enemies, and such enemies actually have much to fear. if we take the bait, and start sifting through evidence, we will discover what every initiate discovers.
It is the journey that matters: the process of thinking, of evaluating, of assigning value to propositions. The clearer light invoked by this great work does something wonderful to the human soul‚Äîexpanding, sensitizing, enlightening. Also, it shows that perception is faulty, and the stories that move us are almost impossible to distill to certainty. Mystery is everywhere, and the solutions are ultimately irrelevant. What‚Äôs important is the journey from passivity to activity, from consumption to creation, from dependence to responsibility.