Post April 14, 2007, 10:11:42 PM

Da Vinci Code: A Study of What To Avoid?

Reminded by the emergence of the movie, I caught up to a full reading of the matching novel.

What a complicated subject.

The man pulled the right strings in the Media world, so he wins the *Commercial* game.

However, nearly everything in the novel strays from crisply accepted opinion. The fascinating exercise is separating out the cunningly crafted alterations, from the simplistic blunders. The web materials I looked at today suggest an even split.

I'm too cautious to dive headlong into a story pivoting upon a topic I'm not qualified to handle. Speculative Fiction has some classic conventions to solve anti-story problems, but those are recognizable as harmless insertions to aid suspension of disbelief.

Dan Brown deliberately sets out to chain theories hovering at the farthest edge of believable interpretation. Avoiding the harshest comments on raw stylistic merit, I'll pose it differently: just how dangerous is the combination of extreme artistic license under "fiction" coupled with the devastating commercial engine?

The Christian Church has a thundering amount of controversies to answer for. But how do we feel about an author's deliberate attempt to abuse the general reader's complete lack of preparation in a very complicated subject? Where do "Free Speech / Fiction License" end and "Slander/Libel" begin? Scores of the author's points are crafted from real research into the basic concepts, and then straying off the accepted path into the woods on the side of the road. Because the reader has never heard sufficient details about *any* of the topics, the reader cannot possibly know the Master level refutation.

I can almost admire a P.T. Barnum inspired "Con of Man", but then Brown crashes into rudimentary blunders in every category imaginable. Modern newspaper pablum likes to trumpet "take risks", but is it worth complete literary annihilation to take on a subject you are hopelessly unqualified for? The newspaper article writer has already received his daily pay for that piece, and moved on. Somehow column writers get to take advantage of the Micro-Attention caused by the barrage of Tomorrow's Edition wiping out any memory of what you trumpeted last week. Book writers have to answer to criticism for decades.

The image of a Carny Magician is stuck in my mind. Sneaky mis-direction grafted onto sloppy technique which nevertheless sells entrance fees.