Thursday, October 14, 2004


Are you like me, haven't read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, don't want and can't figure out what all the fuss is about? Or maybe you've read the book and still don't understand why it has such mass appeal. Well, Curtis White, author of Middle Mind thinks he has an answer:

The Da Vinci Code is important as an expression of a desire for a spirituality that cannot be had within the confines of the institutionalized church. More simply yet, it is the popular expression of a desire for a kind of meaningfulness to life that is missing for most of us. And certainly, it is the scandalous expression of a willingness to be disobedient to achieve the heretical end of a salvation outside the confines of the church. Through this novel we express our fundamental disgust with our institutionalized lives, and we suggest shocking things that we might previously have imagined were unsayable. The novel offers the unexpected opportunity to flee the dominant culture of Truths-That-Make-No-Sense for the Secret, the Unsayable, and the True. From my point of view, there's nothing wrong with imagining that something's fraudulent about the way our lives are ordered, nothing wrong with wanting to go beyond the illusory in order to know the truth. Beyond the scandal and the sensation and the heavy-handed fiction, it is this assumption of our shared sense of spiritual fraud and the assumption that we're willing to think heretically in order to escape that fraud that makes Brown's deepest appeal to his readers. He promises us liberation, and our eagerness to take up his offer reveals much about our spiritual as well as our political condition.
Since I've been a heretic for quite a long time now (I'm glad we don't get burned at the stake anymore), I can't really speak to whether or not White is in the ballpark on this one. Perhaps a newly or non heretical person can commnet on this. Anyone? Anyone? In case you haven't heard yet, The Nationall Book Award Finalists were announced yesterday. I have managed to not read a single one of the nominees. What I want to know though, is how the 9/11 report can be considered a finalist for nonfiction books? A report, even if it is as long as Bill Clinton's memoir and was published in book format, is still a report. I hate to think what fine BOOK got passed over for that one. On a less grumpy note, Minnesota's own Garrison Keillor will be conducting the award ceremony in November.