Sunday, May 21, 2006

Disappointment

First off, I'd like to apologize for taking such a long break from posting, I guess I just can't be tied down. I'm like a wild horse, I'll come back for a nibble every now and then, but don't expect me to be here every day.

One of the reasons for my being absent is that I was completely engrossed in "The DaVinci Code." I was trying to finish it before the movie left the theaters. At first, I enjoyed this book very much, and I have to say that what intrigued me the most was reading about all of the symbolic meaning and interpretations of art and architecture. And then tragedy struck last night. I was unable to sleep and so I decided to watch a little TV. Much to my delight, there was a program on public television that featured a professor of art history (I forget which University he was from) and he discussed in detail the liberties that Dan Brown (the author of "The DaVinci Code") took with his interpretations of the art in his book. Come to find out, everything that Brown offered about these paintings was either down right false or just didn't have any historical data to support his interpretations. Basically the only thing he said about the paintings that has any similarity with reality is the names and artists of the paintings, and even then he left a few things out.

As you can imagine, I was somewhat disappointed. Now, I'm no idiot, I'm aware that this is a fiction novel, and I'm okay with authors taking creative license with their works. I've come to the realization that there are two types of fiction novels: Those that take place in a setting that doesn't exist, and those that take place in a setting that does exist in the real world. Obviously an author of a fiction novel that takes place in an imaginary setting can do whatever they please, and as long as it is relatively connected, I'd be able to be comfortable with it. It's the other type of fiction that I have a hard time with. These novels take some truth and some fiction and mix it all up together making it very confusing for people like me. Take "The DaVinci Code" for example: I assume that the characters and plot line are fiction. I know that parts of the setting really do exist, and I know that some of the objects do exist as well, but it seems that the rest is up for grabs and this is what bothers me. My mind has a hard time living in that space in-between reality and fiction. I find myself unsure of what or whom to believe in.

It was the same way with "Memoirs of a Geisha." The author talks about interviewing this old Japanese woman about her life as a Geisha in old Japan, and then at the end of the book, he admits he made that up--she doesn't really exist. Ok, fine, but the way the Geisha are portrayed is factual--right? No. Turns out the author of "Memoirs of a Geisha" took extreme liberty and fused the lives of Geisha and Japanese prostitutes together and called it a "memoir" of a Geisha. Now, I am left wondering which of it represents the life of a Geisha and which represents the life of a Japanese prostitute? And now I have to do all kinds of research because a book I thought was a factual representation of a lifestyle I wanted to learn about turned out to be a mix of fact and fiction. And then, as if that weren't confusing enough, I still can't decide whom to believe--is the guy trying to sell a book taking too much liberty about a lifestyle he researched, or is the real Geisha trying to hide something about their secret life so they deny everything the author says?

I guess only real Geisha and Leonardo DaVinci know for sure and the rest of us have to guess. And perhaps Dan Brown is mocking us all by constantly saying in his book that "everyone loves a scandal" all the while providing a scandal for his readers while he pokes fun at the ones that believe what he presented as interpretations of DaVinci's paintings. Well, Dan, this is one fish that got away. I won't be taking your explanations for granted anymore.

I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that I was hoping to be educated while I was entertained, but it turns out that while I was being entertained, I was actually losing my education. That is cruel.

So reader beware, and as you are watching "The DaVinci Code" this summer, don't believe a word they say.

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