Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lost in The Focault's Pendulum

For several weeks now I have been reading The Focault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. It's a diabolical book. I would describe it as The Davinci Code written by/for nerds on crack.
The beginning shows promise, drawing you in, then the middle part just throws at you all sorts of stuff about the Templars, the occult, obscure references to secret societies. There is a murder, which led the protagonists (3 editors at a publishing firm that had been looking at works from scholars writing about the Templars, whom they call the Diabolicals. I agree.) to believe there is a secret plan involved and there are people who are making sure the plan remains a secret. So they embark on uncovering The Plan. They researched and consulted and hypothesised, and concluded that The Plan was to control the world (what else) by controlling telluric currents, which controls how the earth behaves. To control the current, the 'King of The World' needs to find out where the Umbilicus Telluris, the command centre of the earth. The Plan, is elaborate, it spans 600 hundred years involving 36 'invisible' agents every 120 years which they suspect is disguised as the Templars quest to find the Holy Grail, which is actually to finally locate the Umbilicus. But how do they locate it, and how do they keep it a secret from everyone else? They must use some kind of secret map and secret way to identify the location. That's where it get's interesting.

From Chapter 82:
"A map? But a map would be marked with an X at the point of the Umbilicus. Whoever held the peace with the X would know everything and not need the other pieces. No; it had to be more involved. We racked our brains for several days, until Blbo decided to resort to Abulafia [their computer]. And the reply was:

Guillaume Postel dies in 1581. Bacon is Viscount St. Albans. In the Conservatoire is Focault's Pendulum.

The time had come to find a function for the Pendulum.

[they read texts about Templars and the church and Galileo etc]

"All right, let's assume the Templars used the Pendulum to indicate the Umbilicus. Instead of the labyrinth, which is after all, an absttract scheme, on the floor you put the map of the world. The point marked by the tip of the pendulum at a given hour is the point that marks the Umbilicus. But which Pendulum?"
"The place is beyond discussion: Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the Refuge"
"Yes," Belbo replied, " but let's supposed that at the stroke of midnight the Pendulum swings from Copenhagen to Capetown. Where is the Umbilicus? In Denmark or in South Africa?"
"A good observation," I said. "But our Diabolical tells us also that in Chartres there is a fissure in a stained-glass window of the choir, and at a given hour of the day a sunbeam enters through the crack and always hits the same place, always the same stone on the floor. I don't remember the conclusion he draws fro this, but in any event it's a great secret. So here's the mechanism: in the choir of Saint-Martin there is a window that has an uncolored spot near the juncture of two lead cames. It was carefully calculated, and probably for 600 years someone has always taken care to keep it as is. At sunrise on a given day of the year ..."
"... which can only be the dawn of June 24, Saint John's day, feast of the summer solstice ..."
"... yes, on that day and at that hour, the first pure ray of sun that comes through the windows strikes the floor beneath the Pendulum, and the pendulum's intersection of the ray at that instant is the precise point on the map where the Umbilicus is to be found!"

When I read this part, the first image that came into my mind was this one:

The pendulum at The Dharma Lampost station in Lost.

I googled and discovered that apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so too.
Who would wanna bet that the writers in Lost had read The Focault's Pendulum?
No wonder the show was so good. They are DIABOLICAL!!

So diabolical that I had to categorize this post under both Literary and Transmission Jam.