I don’t enjoy the mysticism in “The Lost Symbol” ….


Originally from an email written on Jan. 5, 2010:

==============================================

Hello,

This morning, I finished reading "The Lost Symbol" by
Dan Brown, the author of "Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons".   I
wouldn’t give it  much  acclaim and I actually think or imagine it’s better to
watch it in the movie form (imdb.com says => 2012).   In fact, while
reading this novel, the protagonist Robert Langdon in my mind was always "Tom
Hanks" !

It uses/abuses "flashbacks" a lot and slows down the story and makes me
impatient, especially in the beginning.  Everything is built by secrets and
mystics ….  Without secrets, there is not much story/essence left … If the
CIA OS Director Sato would explain to Prof. Langdon why she really came to the Capitol Hill, a lot of unnecessary
events would disappear and so a lot of pages in the novel would disappear. 
 

Brown’s making all those pretentious hypes.  A
lots of estorica and mysteries.  But when he talked
a bit about physics, I suddenly feel that I can better judge. 
One
character argued that our ancestors knew about
modern science, eg. saying that polarity (like
electrical) is nothing but the "dual world"
described by Krishna >2000 years ago — this is kind of 
stupid to me but he’s
done so for a few other times.  In this example, you can use many
dualities such as the Chinese/Taoist Yin and Yang, there black and white, good
and bad
etc.  Many things are duality but it
doesn’t mean that the ancient
people knew that there are electrons and protons.  They were definitely not like J. J.
Thomson who helped us see electrons.  Nor did they make TV out of electron guns —- apparently there weren’t
TV thousands of years ago ….  It’s just too far-fetched and kind of irrelevant.  Even much closer,
like Lorentz transformation is a useful tool of relativity but only until
Einstein made use of all these mathematical tools before we knew about the
special relativity and its profound meanings.

 
Then, it talked about superstring theory as
it’s something "established" and said something like (p. 59) "..recent
scientific observations, it suggested the multidimensional universe was made up
… 10 dimensions…".  Then, it mentioned the book(s) of Zohar and its
discussion of entangling 6 dimensions into 1 …. But the claim of "recent
scientific observations" is just plain wrong.  After ~30 years, superstring
theory still has no proof and no dis-proof and in fact it couldn’t actually predict
anything ==> many people have accuse it of non-scientific.  If there is
really any evidence, all those string theorists would have claimed triumph and
somebody may get Nobel Prize etc.
 
Anyway, it’s here that I could "calibrate"
what D. Brown said … I’ve enjoyed watching "Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and
Demons" (which had CERN in the 1st 5 minutes — though not
exactly of course/as usual) in the form of movies.  Again, the movies are
probably more entertaining ….

 
p. 313, Katherine (a noetic scientist) said
"Science and mysticism are very closely related …" which has disgusted me the
most.  As I said, this novel is almost reduced to nothing had there been no secrets.  I remember in a
project presentation (about astronomy) in an ethics class, I
intentionally told my classmates
that from
then (Copernicus/Galileo) on, people knew to do experiment/make observations
instead of only knowing to read the Bibles etc. to look for answers.  The premise that the ancestors had all the answers but
they just hid them because they didn’t want the evil people to know the powerful secret knowledge and they left ‘codes’.  But
clearly, the people who may decode/decipher are not necessarily the "good" guys ! Otherwise, this novel wouldn’t exist !   All the problems
may lie in the essence of keeping secrets.  Science has advanced so far very much because we’ve openly published our results.  Where the
knowledge flows the freest and the easiest is where the most advancement has
been made.   Keeping things secret and accusing
people not having seen through the secret or not having the right mind/heart to
realize the secret truth is just why mysticsm goes nowhere.  
Keeping things secret is only good for writing a novel.  In fact, Brown tried
even to hide a friend’s advice of "going to hospital" near the very end — just to nurture a
doubt for a few pages in the readers’ mind.  But this is just pathetic. In fact, this book reminded me a lot about
National Treasure (esp. National Treasure 2).  There are quite a few twists and
it’s quite entertaining.  But I feel like that I could
see through some of the techniques of the author in quite a few
circumstances.
 
p. 314, Katherine claimed that science has
advanced more the last 5 years than in the previous 5000… This is also not
what I’ve felt.   We may have many more gadgets but at least in
physics, there has been no real revolution since relativity/quantum physics.  If
Brown really understood what has been going on with superstring theories, I
don’t think he’d make Katherine say what she said.  Even not in physics, people
are still arguing about evolution or not (compared to the fact that
people don’t seem to argue whether the earth is flat or not) — which made me
think what kind of advancement we’ve made in biology (since Darwin) ?!  { 
There’ve been be a lot of 
developments
such as those gene stuff but probably not
revolutionary enough for me. }
 
And the only experiment of Katherine’s detailed in the book was about the human weight after death.  This was not a new idea at all and has been done before without any revolutionary results.
At the end of the 500+ pages, it tries to be
poetic, profound and ethereal … but to me, it’s like religious pedagogy, almost like going to a sermon in a church.  Brown’s old stuff is
probably not as religious as this one (intentionally or not) …
 
I’ve enjoyed quite a bit in this X’mas/New Year
holiday in books (not just this one as I’m reading other Chinese books at the
same time) and movies. Particularly, I’d like to write a few words about the
movie "Up in the Air" which I saw in theater last Sat..  I haven’t liked a movie
this much for some time ….


 
This movie and probably about life is kind of meaningfully meaningless — from an interesting vantage
point though !  The story is mainly about the job of Clooney and his "protege"
which is about firing people.  And Clooney spends ~320 days a year in
travelling.  
I don’t
think the movie tries to convey to you anything definite. I’ve enjoyed the humor, the gimmicks and the familiar airport routines that were being described
— very heart-felt.  The role of Clooney wanting to get 10 million miles made
me smile, too. But so what after he’s got it — that’s more profound than
Brown’s Ancient Mysteries ! When you thought that you knew how the movie would
go, you were surprised !  Life is just that meaningless — we’re not really all
going on a line to heaven or hell. It’s funny to see how George Clooney has
convinced his would-be brother-in-law to go through the wedding even though he
didn’t see the point of marriage. Cynical !But it’s like everything is just
hanging on a very fine line and there is no real deep meaning into it.  At the
end, we all go on with our life even though it may be meaningless. Anna Kendrick
(whom I didn’t know/notice before this movie) is brilliant in this movie — a
real discovery since Ellen Page @ "Juno". She looks fresh (you might think that
she’s never acted before) but she’s stolen most of the scenes (even Clooney’s
smirk couldn’t compete with) when she was in. I don’t even mind the stereotype
of (East) Asians being faster in the airport lines … Somehow, I feel connected
when watching this movie.

 
This is a very subjective "review" (if you can call it).
 
Go see it (though it’s not really your type)
!
 
The other interesting movie that I saw was "Inglorious Basterds" (a name always like mis-spelling to
me).  The best is probably in its unpredictability of Quentin
Tarantino’s 
 — even though it’s for a history in the past in
WWII.  Somebody who seemed to be a hero might die at the next minute
… Tarantino dared to "modify" history … and what actually is more daring is
that he dares to make fun of Nazi’s and Jewish stuff — which always seems to
be a serious subject.  I like it, too !

 
 
Kin

   

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About kinyip

An experimental particle physicist ...
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