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Foucault's Pendulum, pages 46 - 158

January 9, 2019

Synopsis: Causabon recalls his childhood transformation into incredulousness, his university dichotomy between Revolution and Culture, and meeting Belbo at a bar for the first time. Then Belbo tells a childhood story of desiring a trumpet. Causabon tells Belbo's he's writing  his thesis on the Templars, and Belbo tells him he's a lunatic--at length (not to be confused with a moron or a cretin).

 

The next day, they meet comrade Diotallevi's colleague at a publishing house, and discuss the merits of non-sensible book titles and the proving ground for Jewishness (not to be confused with Judaism). That evening, in the bar, they extensively discuss the war history of the Knights of the Temple (not Templar): "The King is so badly racked by dysentery that he cuts out the seat of his pants in battle to save time." Then political history at great length: "The charges were that during their initiation rites the Templars denied Christ three times, spat on the crucifix, and were stripped and kissed in posteriori parte spine dorsi, in other words, on the behind, then on the navel and mouth, in humane dignitatis opprobrium--that they then engaged in mutual fornication... Some did confess to more than was necessary, saying that they not only denied Christ but also called Him a criminal, and they had denied the virginity of Mary, and they had urinated on the crucifix, not only on the day of their initiation, but during Holy Week as well. They didn't believe in the sacraments, they said, and they worshiped not only Baphomet but also the Devil in the form of a cat . . . . "

 

Days later, the friends attend a political protest which turns violent with police.

 

A year later, Causabon and Belbo meet Colonel Ardenti for more Templar discussion. The Plan begins to materialize... Together with Diotallevi they study an encrypted Templar document... which tells of other documents (no doubt also encrypted): "The last line says, 'Three times six before the feast of the great whore.' " So there's math involved... and still more math. Obsessive-level math. Which leads to... the Holy Grail! They talk at length of the intricacies of the Templar conspiracy (the documents). But the next day, they find the colonel's been presumably offed. And the colonel isn't who he presumes to be.

 

Several relatively quiet years pass...

 

Reaction: A slow burn... and very wordy. A world of difference from the concise, action-packed thrillers of today. An editor with an eye for sales would red line pages of tedious puzzle description in this book. So far, I find the characters barely interesting and the pacing as slow as sanely allowable. I do, however, find the religious descriptions amusing, and they're what keeps me reading...

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