le 22 mai 2013
I discovered Down Brown via the Da Vinci Code and I also read great books from him (Digital Fortress, Deception point among others). I was a bit disappointed with Angels & Demons having a feeling of copy/paste of Da Vinci (may be because I started with that one). When I saw Inferno I hesitated but still, at the end I gave it a chance. Damn! Wrong choice. I must admit I could not go further than about half the book simply because, I will summarize it easilly: Langdon is chased, he hides, find a last chance exit, gives a lesson in history. Langdon is chased, he hides, find a last chance exit, gives a lesson in history. Langdon........ etc etc etc. This book does not finish from starting! Sorry but this is really too boring and I really do not care now what happens next. Please Mr Dan Brown, you're not worthy of such a book! For the next one be sure I'll wait long enough and will read critics a lot before spending money on a Langdon story. Too bad.
le 2 juin 2013
Were we expecting a book by Dan Brown with Dante and his Inferno as the central piece? Probably. But it finally came out and let us totally aghast.
Some simple reasons.
It is fast, multiple as for the point of view, very dynamic, sliced into so short chapters that have a high taste of TV series with some of them sliced up a second time like split hair that we are confronted to a scattered jigsaw puzzle. I don’t really like that kind of massive loaf of bread chopped up so thin we don’t have time to assess a situation before it is already gone, since there never – or nearly never – is a fully developed situation. Just tit bits you have to sort out and assemble the way you want if you are not particular about the story line, or the way you can or should if you want to keep up with some story line.
At the same time the story is multiple with many points of view and that gives a real dynamism to the tale that a more consistent or continuous story telling technique would not necessarily produce, would even very probably not produce. Especially when you know it all plays on the eyes that are used to see a character and speak about her or him, the eyes of another character, and not always the same. Some kind of inner voyeurism from one voyeur into another voyeur who pays the same homage to the first one: reciprocal and crisscrossing voyeur’s points of view. One of these voyeurs is struck by some important loss of memory and some other characters are just superficially identified by this or that momentary and transient voyeur, mostly Langdon who is under complete delusion due to his loss of memory, but several others too.
Then the story is complicated. Just the way we like them with multiple riddles, I mean real riddles to be solved, multiple places and multiple discoveries though some are not credible in the case of Robert Langdon, a top global art specialist and symbologist. For one example let’s consider his lack of competence in the following situation. As soon as he knew about the severed heads of some horses in the context they came up he should have known they were in Venice, which he did, and that the doge who brought them there was Henricus Dandolo and that his tomb they were looking for was not in Venice but in “Hell on Earth,” one foot in the water and the other underground and the whole thing in Greek and another non Indo-European language. And that should have been enough for him to know exactly in what city and in what building there the whole riddle was to find its solution. We suspend our disbelief and we understand it is a story told to dummies and that the main character, the author of a hot-selling book on Christian symbology in Muslim countries, or something like that, can also be a dummy, though he is asserted as the best in his field. I just wonder what the worst could be.
We would be ready to forgive such sloppy moments if the book were not a dystopia so much committed to the famous Malthus, who has an extremely bad reputation, that it becomes a sort of prediction that is actually realized and accepted. And the acceptation of this dramatic prediction about the future of the world tampered with by a crazy mad scientist is fulfilled in less than five hours at global level implying that the world is in the hands of a mad scientist and a few, very few people who have all powers and can decide of what is good or bad for the whole world, what is acceptable or not for the whole planet, on their own accord and absolute unquestioned power in their isolated minds that are fantasized as giant in a world of midgets. They are like secularized almighty lords or gods. We are reinventing the Greek mythology in which the world was governed by a band of half crazy sexually perverse liars, cheaters, assassins and criminals of all sorts for whom humanity was nothing g but the back yard of their house of games and sexual casino.
But what is this Malthusian dystopia?
Since the population of the earth will soon reach or jump over nine billion people, the planet will have reached its maximum population and this overpopulating species known as Homo Sapiens will come to an end, will get extinct like so many other species. Full stop. No discussion please. Me Zeus am telling you that is what is going to happen and I will not do anything to prevent it. It is mathematical, mathematics being the new religion of the modern Pharaohs. At least “my” mathematics, says the mad scientist.
His solution is a whim of his genial mind that is preventing the extinction of the species by managing its fertility. The solution is a viral vector that in eight days contaminates the whole planet from one single point at full Internet speed. This viral vector modifies the DNA of the human beings who are infected, in fact all of them, in order to make them haphazardly sterile, one out of three. The two non-sterile human beings left are not at all seen as being able to take advantage of the situation. Note it concerns both men and women and apparently it is the same viral vector that is used for both though the fertility of man and that of woman is not at all genetically identical hence carried out by the same genes which would require two different viral vectors The number of children of a society is determined as an average for fertile women but within what this society considers as a total possible feasible maximum, consciously like in China or france in antagonistic directions, or unconsciously like in most other countries. If some women or some men are sterile the total number of children will be the same any way because it is some unconscious biological rule governed by some ideological vision of what is necessary for the species to survive that is at work there.
Mr Dan Brown should know that, apart from France, the strictly Muslim countries and some section of the American society, the number of children is going down, even in Africa though he seems to say the reverse in a very unfair anti-Catholic diatribe that does not honor his moral integrity nor his civil honesty. It is perfectly feasible to think human population should stagnate or even go down soon, especially if life expectancy goes on increasing. This last movement has reduced the number of deaths in our societies but pretty soon deaths are going to come back into the agenda and older women are no longer producing children. And the older people of today will not last forever, even if Ray Kirzweil is right since his prediction of very long life expectancy is man-made and will cost a fortune, hence only concern the very rich. Even in Africa the number of children goes down and has diminished by about 50% within some thirty years. Even in France, for the worst possible reasons, to economize on family grants and make the income tax rise, the birth boosting family policy is being questioned and the upper middle class and upper classes will be the first to experiment the loss of part or all the family grants benefits. These top income families are not making twelve children per family, but they are those who make three or four. Cut the benefits and that number is going to go down. What’s more the income tax system is going to be crushed down the same way to reduce the advantages of having many children for the calculation of your income tax. The family policy set up in 1945 is going down the chute and France was unique as for that with East Germany that does not exist any more.
In Africa it is the struggle of women for their rights to be full political and economic citizens that is bringing down the number of children, and the strict Muslim countries will have to move along the same line and fast: women have just been authorized to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. I guess contraceptive are like alcohol in these countries: highly praised black market and smuggling goods.
The second thing Dan Brown forgets is that Homo Sapiens is not like insects. Homo Sapiens can transform his environment to satisfy his needs and his projects because Homo Sapiens has always had a development project and it is that characteristic of this species that enabled Homo Sapiens to naturally eliminate his competitors like Homo Neanderthals and to populate the whole world and soon move into the cosmos. They sure will have to clean up their mess in the homo-sapiens-sty they have created – and that’s urgent – and they will have to use more and more renewable resources – note food is by definition a renewable resource if food is organic, that is to say produced as vegetables and animals and not synthetic chemistry.
The solution advocated by the mad scientist, never really rebutted by anyone in the novel, implemented in less that eight days by the mad man of science and accepted by the highest authorities in less five hours, endorses and fulfills the Malthusian gospel of this mad scientist in the worst possible vision emerging out of the 19th century’s double paranoia: to die trampled down by hungry masses, and to be exploited by capitalism into turning humanity into two different species, the Morlocks and the Eloi. And this Malthusian gospel is accepted and thus advocated by the novel itself since no real arguments are used to dramatically set up some opposition in any one single character. It is not demographic management. It is not humane enlightenment. It is plain craziness.
But a novelist with a serial character like Robert Langdon cannot do what Dan brown does. This serial character is fictionally dead since in the next book the human population, with one third of it sterile and the ensuing catastrophe, will be fully consummated. There is some explanation to do on Dan Brown’s side. He is forcing his own serial character to commit suicide and hara-kiri? Even the novel that is his obvious model, Frank Herbert’s “The White Plague” that is based on the same concept of a DNA manipulation by a scientist made crazy by some terrorist act in Ireland that kills his wife end child, in order to kill a whole section of the population, in this case women, did not dare go that far since the main character was not a serial character and in the end the damage had become curable, repairable, redeemable.
Mr Dan brown, you maybe do not write novels to get a prize, but it is slightly too much to write a page-turner, because this novel is one, that takes its audience for a lot of not very swift vastly illiterate uneducated fictionally retarded people. In other words when we turn the last page we do not really want to start all over again. Maybe that is done for mainstream Hollywood scenario writers who are not always perfectly well inspired and logical and that might even produce a blockbuster film that will last three months; but the story is basically thwarted by its inner improbable impossibilities.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU