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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Sunday, August 07, 2005

entry arrow6:21 PM | Ancient Wisdom, Ancient Puzzles

It is the greatest houses and the tallest trees that the gods bring low with bolts and thunder. For the gods love to thwart whatever is greater than the rest. They do not suffer pride in anyone but themselves.

-Herodotus

I'm reading this from Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's immensely readable The Rule of Four...



... which is infinitely better than that blasted bestseller The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, the exasperating prose of which made my eyeballs roll a thousand times. (I mean, thrill me, jolt me, make me remember my crush for Indiana Jones and his exotic adventures -- but don't make me laugh out loud with writing so leaden it's almost a joke.) I have to admit though that what Brown lacks in characterization and textured language, he makes up with an uncanny sense of pacing and thrilling twists. And his "secret" is far more esoteric (consider Da Vinci, the Louvre, the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar...) and earth-shattering (that Jesus sired family through Mary Magdalene, a secret being covered up -- by murder and other heinous means -- by the Catholic Church) than the not-so-beguiling but still puzzling affair of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. But I've always been a sucker for ancient mysteries and dark secrets. I read Brown's original inspiration, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln's Holy Blood, Holy Grail, when I was still in high school, and thought the book strange but thought-provoking. It was a time I remember most especially for reading the likes of Katherine Neville's The Eight, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, and Donna Tartt's The Secret History. It's all guilty pleasure: how reading such books takes you through a whirlwind of ancient treasures and questions, answering riddles and puzzles and ciphers all the way. The New York Times notes of it: "The real treat here is the process of discovery." And nothing, I think, is more pleasurable than that.

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