Thursday, February 22, 2007

Conspiracy ahead...Dan Brown - Angels and Demons

Finally, another year after reading 'The Da Vinci Code', I decided to give its predecessor - Angels and Demons. - a try. Ok, I really liked the 'Schnitzeljagd' (scavenger hunt) of connecting seemingly unconnected facts into wild conspiracy theories as it was presented by Dan Brown it 'The da Vinci Code'...although I was disappointed by its ending. But, as most times, it's hard to put an end to a story that is trapped in an apparently ever lasting climax. Thus, I thought, maybe the predecessor would be a little bit more well balanced.
Anyway, I had high expectations.....'ve heard about the Illuminati? Yes, I know. Ever since Robert A. Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy, the Illuminati have been subject to incredible conspiracy theories. This enlightenment secret society of freethinkers, most times connected to their Bavarian section founded by Adam Weishaupt back in the 18th century, where illustrious men like Goethe have been reputed members. A lot of connections have been tried to make to Freemasons or Rosicrucians, and because of their general close connection to the movement of enlightenment -- including their opposition to the church and christian faith -- as well as for being a secret society (the government always is afraid of conspiracies) they have been banned. But, there is a lot of conspiracy literature -- reputable as well as pure fiction -- where you can read all about.
I've read Wilson's Illuminatus more than 20 years ago. As being a teenager by that time, I was really fascinated that there should be a (entire different) world out there that only opens up for those who are enlighted. Everybody else was only able to see the surface and only a happy few were able to look behind the things of daily life ... although the traces were so obvious.
So, the concept of 'Angel and Demons' was not so new to me. Dan Brown tries to draw connections between modern particle physics (the plot starts with a murder taking place at CERN) and its destructive potential (antimatter and its disastrous effects), the ancient conflict between christian faith and natural science (a.k.a. the Vatican gang against the enlightened conspirers), and the moral values of faith and christianity at all. The story is driving an accelerating pace within this conflict, and a Harvard professor of semiotics together with a female (...and rather sexy) CERN scientist trying to solve the conspiracy puzzle that is threatening the Catholic church in its very foundations. For sure this scavenger hunt is rather exciting and thrilling, but also somehow frustrating.
But for me, the end (this time I won't spoil) was reconciling again (at least a little bit, although not everything was explained, as e.g. the provenance and the story of the assassin). But we learn, that there is nothing miraculous about and we don't have to be afraid of world threatening conspiracies.
Ok...I guess you have to read it by your own. It's really entertaining...and you will have a lot places to see, when you are visiting Rome and the Vatican the next time.
Before I forget, you should really read the original English version. The German translation (I've read a few pages) is rather bad. I mean, it's well translated, but the language is rather shallow. Maybe it's the same with he English version...but for being a foreign speaker, maybe I don't realize. At least it was pretty simple to read and not difficult at all.