about | contact | disclaimer | home   


I feel sacrilegious

Donkey Kong

In front of me stands my empty Paulaner Weißbier glass (bought two for $2 at a yard sale a few years ago) ... and the blasphemy, if I may use that term, is not that it is empty (which is bad enough) but that I don’t use it for drinking beer ... instead, I fill it (day in, day out) with iced tea.

Like everyone I recognized the “sacr” for “sacred” in “sacrilege,” but I wasn't sure of the “lege” part until now. So, according to my (dictionary) sources, it is from legere, “to gather, steal” ... okay, so far, so good. One is then asked to cross-referenced legend ... ooh, cool. So, one then recalls that legend is from the gerund of legere (this time defined as “gather, select, read”).

In short: cool (I like etymology ... and entomology, but that is another topic).

On the notion of the sacred and the profane (though I was not really there) I was intrigued, at least a bit, by a recent CNN story about an upcoming TV special that will ask (and answer?) the question “Was Jesus Married ”

Let us leave aside the question as to whether we are even dealing with a historical personage for a moment and attend to the story under consideration. The story cites Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code as a sort of inspiration for show:

The program is based on the best-selling novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” which claims to be partly grounded on historical fact.

What is interesting here is that throughout the entire popular press reception of Brown’s work, no attention has been paid to an important source. Indeed, months ago it was claimed—by a bitter, unsuccessful author, if I may characterize the accuser so bluntly—that Brown’s recent novel was plagiarized. Be that as it may, a more important source has gone mostly uncited: the craptastic Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1983: HBHG) by Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln, and Richard Leigh. It is upon the sensationalistic tripe championed by these three and others that Sierra based a game series (Gabriel Knight) and the TV series The Pretender based a sub-plot. A year ago ABC’s Veritas: The Quest (quickly cancelled) helped itself to much of the same material.

Thus, in recent memory mainstream culture (computer games, network television) has dealt with aspects of the material Baigent, Lincoln, and Leigh—along with legions of imitators—popularized in certain circles two decades ago. That Brown’s novel (exactly 20 years later) relies on the same conspiracies and much of the same material for its plot neither surprises nor disturbs me ... I am, however, a bit disappointed in the failure of book reviewers to note it.

In short: there is nothing original here ... not even the “thriller” aspect of the novel, for the supposedly “factual” work HBHG is written more like a sensationalistic grocery-store-novel than like a work of documentary scholarship. On occasion readers and reviewers will at least mention Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, a work perhaps best understood on some levels if read in conjunction with HBHG.

Finally, if HBHG is seen as the true “source” for this new TV special, then it is perhaps proper that we actually view the TV show as something akin to NBC’s 1996 Mysterious Origins of Man, a travesty of a “documentary” that makes Geraldo’s features look Emmy or Oscar worthy in comparison. Indeed, it is this previous show’s connection to both bizarro creation “science” and Graham Hancock’s pseudo-journalistic Fingerprints of the Gods that inspires the comparison with the upcoming Jesus program.

No entry here would be complete without a link to the PopeCountdown!

To conclude now with something that admits to being fantasy: the subject matter of many of Gary Lippincott’s paintings.

—November 4, 2003