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The Divine of 'Da Vinci'

12 Apr, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

All right. I give.

You've got me, all of you, I am completely, utterly and helplessly caught in the jet wash of Da Vinci Code mania.

I recently re-read both this novel and Angels and Demons, and I just ordered Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

While I wait for that book to arrive from the lovely folks at Amazon.com, I am fully ensconced in watching the wealth of documentaries on the subject.

I just finished Acorn's The Real Da Vinci Code, before that was BFS's incredibly illuminating documentary Opus Dei; before that Koch's Secrets of Angels, Demons and Masons. Next on my viewing list is Disinformation's The Da Vinci Code Decoded.

I find it enthralling, and it plays right into the whole mentality of the History Channel acolyte club, of which I will unashamedly admit I am a card-carrying member.

These people — people like me — we love watching different documentaries about the same subject; just look at how many kinds of programs and perspectives of World War II there are in a given week on the channel.

This subject gives us another outlet for our more-obsessive traits and offers us beautiful looks at locales and art and architecture we may only have read about.

As for me, I love it when the hosts/producers are Brits. They live for this kind of stuff and it really comes across, often in a very cheeky way. The host of The Real Da Vinci Code drives around with a Jesus bobblehead on the dash of his car during his quest to sort out the fact and fiction of Dan Brown's pages.

The truth is, a product like this, a phenomenon like the The Da Vinci Code,gives us an opportunity for a personal quest, even if it is a purely intellectual one.

And the grail we are seeking isn't lying at the end of the quest, it is the quest. Aerosmith got it right with “life's a journey, not a destination.”

All the books, all the documentaries, all the media articles … they are all part of the public's quest for something that makes them think … that makes them look at the world differently.

You don't have to buy what Dan Brown's selling wholesale. Indeed, I'm sure most people don't, and shouldn't. But his book has sold more than 40 million copies. That's more than just anti-Catholic or atheist readers out there.

The books themselves I don't think are particularly well written (for better sacred-feminine mythology, I'd recommend Marion Zimmer Bradley or writers of her ilk). But I do appreciate the ideas Brown's books represent — their “question authority” mentality. I hope that mentality translates to the big screen next month. It already has, from what I have witnessed so far, translated to the small screen via DVD product.

Brown, whether you think of him as a hack writer, historical and literary genius or simple commercial provocateur, has certainly gotten the world thinking.

And his ideas have quite certainly gotten the DVD market cooking. I think the documentary tie-ins will last throughout the theatrical hubbub on through the DVD release later this year.

One passage in Angels and Demons stands out to me as illustrating why the frenzy will last, I think.

The female lead character is talking to Brown's hero, Robert Langdon, about faith. She says:

“Mr. Langdon, I did not ask if you believe in what man says about God, I asked you if you believed in God — there is a difference. Holy scripture is stories, legend and history of man's quest to understand his own need for meaning. I am not asking you to pass judgment on literature, I am asking you if you believe in God. If when you lie out under the stars do you sense the divine, do you feel in your gut that you are staring up at the work of God's hand?”

Whatever people believe religiously should not be threatened by Dan Brown or any other writer. We should all just continue on our own personal quests to figure out what our beliefs are. Some will do that with less than a passing glance at these books, DVDs and movies. Others of us will dive right in. So many already have.

If a book, a DVD collection, a movie, a phenomenon like the The Da Vinci Code not only entertains us, but somehow helps us along that quest, I for one am going to enjoy every minute of it.

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