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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Umberto Eco on Writers and the Knights Templar 
27th-Jul-2009 09:15 pm
Here We Stand
Heh. I've been doing some side reading on the Crusades, as I mentioned a few days ago, and I was just googling a reference or two when I found a blog citing the recent publication of archivist Barbara Frale's recent 2009 book on the Knights Templar, The Templars: The Secret History Revealed. Frale is an historian in the employ of the dramatically-named Vatican Secret Archives, and appears to be a very accomplished medievalist. What caught my eye was this comment in the blog entry:
The brief foreword by Umberto Eco has the following priceless remarks: "No other subject has ever inspired more hacks from more countries throughout time than the Templars. . . The only way to determine if a book on the Templars is serious is to check if it ends in 1314..."
28th-Jul-2009 04:23 am (UTC)
Luke White wrote on the copy of this entry on my Facebook page that:
Everybody thinks Foucault's Pendulum is about the Knights Templar, but it's really about hacks obsessing over the Knights Templar. Which is kind of awesome.
That does sound interesting if he's correct. Myself, I've not read the novel, nor have I read much on the Templars (the real stuff, I mean) and so I will simply content myself with repeating his words.
28th-Jul-2009 04:40 am (UTC)
I did not think it was about the templars.
It is about the occult world, the comte de saint
germain an alchemist whom some imagine to have
achieved an immortality appearing later as Mr Welldone
etc, is one figure... well now reading the wikipedia
summary I see that summary gives the templars a
centrality which I did not exactly feel reading it.
in any case it is a tour of the history of the occult
world each section as I recall named for one of
the sephiroth of the tree of life...
it is in any case about the seeking for meaning in
perverse ways which undermine the authenticity of language
and of thought...
his view of the esoteric world is in this light of
subversion of thought but a prior problem is that Eco is
at most an agnostic, an educated agnostic with a respect
for Aquinas but not a believer and so when he says well if
they have in the eucharist what is more marvellous than
anything else how is it that they seek something else? but he
himself does not have the eucharist.
it is a little as fr zosima says to ivan that he is fortunate
if he really believes what he says about the consequences of
faith in the Resurrection.

but on the other hand if one believes then it also becomes
possible perhaps to take a calmer and more positive view
of the hermetic tradtion than this historical nightmare...

too late in evening too many words to too little effect
book worth looking at.
29th-Jul-2009 07:10 am (UTC)
Heh. No, I didn't mean to imply that you were alleging it to be about the Templars, I just thought Luke's comment to be interesting in itself.

From your description, I'm not sure if I want to move the book farther up the "to read" list, or whether I would find the whole thing annoying. I did, in fact, start it eight or ten years ago, and didn't get past the first few pages, which is a rare level of disinterest for me. I had so enjoyed The Name of the Rose, even sweating through the Latin sections in my measly Latin, but for some reason I found the first few pages of Foucault's Pendulum quite off-putting. It sits next to me on the shelf, here, as I write, mocking me for my weak-will....
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