There’s the veneer of good ol’ Midwestern suburban manners, very aww-shucksy. Yet something’s too pinched about it, and as is par for the Bleat course, after some references to the kids and a bit of wistful, nostalgic study over a pop-culture relic of better days — back when whitebread was whitebread and the broads knew their place and the style was so atomic baby — Ol’ Jimbo gets down to business, which means that passive becomes aggressive and the okey-dopey Fred Rogers of Minnesota tears at his cardigan, bites the cork off a bottle of rot-gut and focuses his rage on those fucking hippies:
But on Saturday I read: sat outside in the gazebo and hammered my way through â€œThe Da Vinci Code.â€? If â€œAngels and Demonsâ€? was a Tom Clancy novel for Art History majors, â€œCodeâ€? is â€œ24â€? for pagans, I suppose. [...] Some moments were laughable â€“ I could not imagine the character â€œTeabingâ€? as anything other than â€œTeabag,â€? and almost imagined a bottom-heavy wet man with a string tied to his head.
This silly name was an unintentionally hilarious part of the book, but not for the reasons Lileks describes. I hope Lileks is lying about what his brain really associates with “teabag”. If not, he really is 50 years behind when it comes to pop culture. In other news, Lileks thinks of picturesque 19th-century ships when he reads the phrase “Cleveland Steamer.”
I did put the book down, laughing, when the author suggested that Walt Disney was in on the conspiracy to bring forth the truth about the Goddess. Why? Because of â€œThe Little Mermaid,â€? which was just full of Piscean symbolism. Because the ancients, you know, revered fish, or crabs, or water, or something or other.
Those ancients: they revered everything. They worshipped the circle! Also the square. And, according to a 10th century French monk, the rectangle had certain mystical connotations as well, and thatâ€™s why our beds are rectangular.
Ok, this is funny (for Lileks) and the target is somewhat deserving. Funny for a while. Naturally, though, he drones on and on with it until the reader is as exhausted as the sarcasm. Of course this means that Lileks will up the ante; out of the chugging pixels comes a huge bale of straw which Lileks attacks with vigor:
Blasphemer! You â€“ no, sorry, only the evil horrible CHURCH accuses people of blasphemy, we pagans are a come-one-come-all sort of people, accepting of all beliefs. Except for Christians, who go straight to the Coliseum for lion appetizers. Anyway, the moon has mystical goddess powers! It affects the tide and the cycle of a womanâ€™s womb!
Well, gravity will do that. All due respect, you guys didnâ€™t have the whole story back when you were assembling cosmologies based primarily on observation. I mean, you made a nice start, but you were also poking through bird guts to see if the augurs were good. Nowadays weâ€™ve come to believe that half-digested seeds are an insufficient means for predicting likely outcomes. The financial industry hasnâ€™t used them for decades.
Well there you go. Pagans: hypocrites and crackpots whose ideas of tolerance is to feed Christians to lions. Whereas Christians, on the other hand, have historically been the epitome of tolerance and most amenable to scientific progress.
But we believed in the Goddess, and you, the patriarchal Western evil sex-denying female-fearing popish testosterone-intoxicated tool user has utterly removed the Holy Female from your spiritual realm!
Right. Exactly. Women, all gone. No sacred dames. Aside from that Mary, Mother of, but sheâ€™s just a footnot, and you hardly hear anything about her. Youâ€™re quite right; Western civilization is bound up in a cinched surplice of denial and prudery, and we spend our days in fear of the Holy Sexual Whatever. I â€“ hold on, the TiVo just bonged â€“ whoa! “G-string Divas” marathon on HBO tonight!
OOOkaaay. Of course no mention that Mary, mother of Jesus, is a VIRGIN — the quintessence and proof and emblem of if not quite prudery, chastity. But then in Lileks’ favored decade of Our Lord (the 1950s), women were like that. Saintly mothers, loyal wives, dutiful breeders, docile consumers, chaste-until-married (if not, like Mary, to Tha Lord) and nothing else: as it should be. Or at least they seemed that way, and appearance is all. He has the matchbooks to prove it. And the Church was more important then; it was where Cleaver-clones went every Sunday and they took it seriously and no silly pagan novel with its hippy/womyn/randy Jesus diversions is gonna attack that Great Goodness, not on Ol’ Jimbo’s watch!
So suck it, straw-feminists and straw-pagans! There’s softcore on HBO! What more do you want from the patriarchy?
“Actually, since you ask, if BjÃ¶rk could star in a sequel to Hostel…”
The alternative worldview postulated in â€œThe Da Vinci Codeâ€? does not exactly give us anything transcendent and wonderful, friend; the most â€œsacred ritualâ€? described consists of some old French grandfather, nagoy and panhandled, moaning under some grindy-hipped fleshy woman â€œwith long silver hair,â€? while observers â€“ yes, observers! â€“ stand around in masks holding orbs, chanting. I met her in the grotto and she sheathed my sword, da doo ron ron, da doo ron ron. This may be why the interminable Latin mass became popular: absolutely zero chance of seeing Granny get it on in front of the bridge club.
Thanks, Jimbo. I wasn’t sure that a pop novel was supposed to provide us with anything “transcendent and wonderful” except a good yarn. It’s not much more than storytelling, a diversion, a tall tale, at best a cultural artefact of dubious artistic merit to read for pleasure — sorta like the Bible, but without all those boring geneology lists. On the other hand, it’s hilarious that you’re so threatened by a novel’s relation of philogyny and a little bit of pagan lust/lore. I suppose, though, you can rest assured that June Cleaver, your Virgin Mary figure, would certainly find it fit for burning in her sparkling Kelvinator oven before cooking a meal for the family and saying her prayers and enjoying a sexless night in a separate bed from the hubby as you, Jimbo, sagely intone, “and it was swell”. Things were so much better in Matchbook Days.