With the release of the movie, The Da Vinci Code, I am re-releasing my Dec. 15, 2003 Chicago Tribune column on the book.
By Dennis Byrne
After reading the immensely popular book "The Da Vinci Code," I have decided that its author, Dan Brown, does not exist.
Why? If someone, like the alleged Brown, can distort, fabricate or even wipe out a couple thousand years of political and religious history for the sake of an exciting adventure mystery, then why can't I deny the existence of a single individual for the sake of a good column? If a Dan Brown can capriciously make up a whole bunch of stuff to entertain, why can't I do the same by hitting the delete button on whoever this Dan Brown is supposed to be? Oh, sure, I know there's a picture of someone claiming to be Dan Brown on the book cover, smiling out at us in a writer's uniform of khaki pants, black mock turtle neck and tweedy jacket. And it says right there that he wrote some other books and lives in New England. But I've never seen him. Have you?
Yes, my phone might ring and the voice might say, "I saw your column, and I'm Dan Brown." But I know that would be a lie. The voice can't prove that it's Dan Brown. Someone could come to my door and claim to be Dan Brown, producing a driver's license, voter's registration card and a birth certificate. But that doesn't prove anything. I choose to believe it's counterfeit.
And you people who are about to send me e-mails, telling me I finally have provided incontrovertible proof that I am a moron? You don't exist either. Then who wrote this 454-page book? Offhand, I'd guess that the author was Oliver Stone, a noted fabulist. Except that Stone doesn't exist either. He is the creation of a conspiracy that wants us to think that John F. Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy plot.
Actually, Kennedy does exist. He lives in a bungalow with Elvis. In France.
So what if I'm selective with facts? Whatever suits my purpose, I say. For example, I don't believe in Des Moines. I do believe in Des Plaines. But why is denying the existence of an entire town more moronic than what this supposed Brown guy is doing? An example. He turns the Star of David into a sex symbol. The bottom half (the V) is a female symbol called the chalice. The top half (the inverted V) is really a phallus symbol "still used today on modern military uniforms to denote rank." And the more such "penises" you wear on your sleeve, the higher your rank, we're told. This, of course, will surprise U.S. sailors and airmen whose higher enlisted ranks are designated by the number of female chalices they wear on their insignia.
Minor mistake, sure. But not so minor are nonsense assertions that the Dead Sea Scrolls talked about Mary Magdalene, that "80" gospels were written, that the gospels portrayed her as a prostitute. Laughable is the assertion that a church which has been criticized for nearly "deifying" Mary the mother of Jesus has engaged in a centuries-long plot to destroy the "sacred feminine."
More absurd is an underlying presumption of this novel, that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, would for two millennia knowingly hide theological truth from millions upon millions of believers so--why? Just the fact that any institution could survive for 2,000 years is remarkable enough. That it could survive while hiding some dark secret that is directly contrary to its core belief--the divinity of Christ--is an assertion that can be swallowed only by the incurably gullible.
See, this story, while an exciting yarn, is so filled with errors, you have to start wondering if it was written by an incompetent (whose root, found in the ancient scribblings of Iyioneic lore, means nincompoop). If not, then someone who is trying to make the church's presumed enemies look stupid. Maybe someone who wants to discredit, say, gnosticism, by making up such a foolish story that any examination would expose its absurdities. Someone, maybe, working undercover for the Catholic Church. Maybe not a someone, but a something, a computer, a robotic writer, which compresses all the silliness and goofiness out there into one blockbuster of a book. Yes, it's becoming clear now. Dan Brown really didn't write this book! Because Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is an anagram for the Vatican's new hidden robo CD.
Tape to come later.