Well, summer is upon us with its insufferable heat and cancer-causing UV radiation, so like many, I have taken it upon myself to hole up in a place devoid of sunlight to begin tapping into my summer reading list. First up this year: Dan Brown’s Origin
Let me begin by saying, yes, it is an enjoyable read. If you are not familiar with Dan Brown’s work, he wrote the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code — the book that caused a big stir back in 2003 and got people discussing the possibility that Jesus was married. For the record, I think he was… but I also think his name was Yeshua, not Jesus. But that is a topic for another post. So is the fact that Brown has been sued before for plagiarism, most notably for The Da Vinci Code, which seems to have borrowed heavily from an academic work called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh.
Before the wildly popular Da Vinci Code, Brown penned such other pop thrillers as Deception Point and Angels and Demons; and after it, he penned the pop thrillers The Lost Symbol and Inferno. While his novels are fun to read, they also have a tendency to be formulaic, repetitive, and predictable. If you know the plot of one, you know the plot of the rest: A huge, earth-shattering religious/philosophical discovery is made, but someone will do anything to keep it secret — including murder. The murder is carried out by some ex-military type on the orders of a mysterious antagonist who is known only by a title, like “The Teacher” or “The Provost” or “The Regent.” As the story progresses, the identity of this unknown villain is heavily hinted to be one person — but in a “surprising” twist, turns out to be someone quite close to the hero, Robert Langdon (except in the novels Deception Point and Digital Fortress, in which the protagonists are Rachel Sexton and Susan Fletcher, respectively). Langdon is an expert in code and symbology at Harvard University, but he spends most of his time travelling the world and bothering tour guides and tourists with his detailed answers to questions no one really asks.
One thing about Dan Brown’s books, they certainly make you feel like your life sucks because you have never seen any of the amazing sights Langdon has. I imagine most of Dan Brown’s loyal readers have a Bucket List of travel destinations they know in their heart of hearts they will never start, let alone complete. Don’t feel bad. I’ve been abroad for the past 10 years and have traveled to 23 countries, and I have only seen 3 of the places he mentions in his traveloguesque tales.
The plot of Origin follows the usual Dan Brown formula, but like I said, his books are still enjoyable. It’s a fun read, the kind of book that sits atop the Best-Seller lists not because it is great literature, or even good literature, but simply because it is fun, like a “Garfield” collection. I dare say Best-Seller lists are a testimony to the mediocrity of the multitude of “average readers” that fancy themselves literati — those that pat themselves on the back for holding a novel rather than a cell phone, or even a Kindle. For these people, half the fun of reading a book is in having other people SEE them reading a book on the subway or in their local coffee shop (rather than some electronic gewgaw, which only stupid people use as entertainment). It gives them a needed sense of superiority. Yet whichever medium you choose to access your Dan Brown fix, you will still have fun reading it. And then when the movie comes out, you can annoy your friends by pointing out all the ways the script was lazy with its interpretation, because Lord knows all film adaptations of a book should be at least five hours long — you know, to really capture the detail of the novel. This is why, if you’ve never sat through the extended version of The Lord of the Rings, you’ve obviously missed the point entirely.
I’m sorry, this is supposed to be a review of Brown’s latest, Origin, and yet I can’t stop prattling on about everything else he has written. Well, I guess that is because, while despite my thinking that Brown’s works are generally pop-lit and formulaic, I do still enjoy reading them. I buy them when they hit bookstores, I admit it! And yet while I enjoyed reading Origin, I was disappointed by it. Not because the identity of the “mysterious antagonist” was obvious from somewhere around chapter 6 (as I said, predictability has become the hallmark of a Dan Brown plot), but because the “big secret” of this particular story was a bit of a disappointment. It focuses on the age-old debate between science and religion: Is there a “God” or is life just a chemical reaction? And it always seems to come down to one or the other with no middle ground. Why can’t it be BOTH? And while the book does dabble in this possibility, the part of the book that stirred my ire can be found on pages 285-286 when the character of “NASA astrobiologist Dr. Griffin Bennett” is introduced by Brown for the sole purpose of killing any notions of the reader that this book might touch upon the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Dr. Bennett states in no muddled terms:
“When it comes to the notion of extraterrestrial life… there exists a blinding array of bad science, conspiracy theory, and outright fantasy. For the record, let me say this: Crop circles are a hoax. Alien autopsy videos are trick photography. No cow has ever been mutilated by an alien. The Roswell saucer was a government weather balloon called Project Mogul. The Great Pyramids were built by Egyptians without alien technology. And most importantly, every extraterrestrial abduction story ever reported is a flat-out lie.”
For the record, let ME say this: This “Bennett” is a poor scientist. He obviously has done no serious investigation of these points before simply regurgitating the accepted and acceptable mainstream school of thought on these topics. Just for the record: All crop circles are not made by two drunken clods with a board and some rope. Not the REAL ones. Look into it. The “circles” are complex and encoded with precise geometrical data, and the stalks of the plants that are flattened to form them are unbroken and altered on a cellular level. These unique traits are impossible to reproduce with the heavily-pushed “drunk farmers with a board” method. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Here’s a short but interesting video to get you started:
As for the Roswell “saucer” being from Project Mogul, the short answer is this: The Roswell incident occurred in July 1947. Project Mogul was a program to detect radioactive particles in the atmosphere from Russian nuclear tests. Mogul did not begin until the early 1950s as the Soviet Union did not test nuclear weapons prior to 1949. When people checked the Mogul theory and found the dates to be off, the official story changed to say that Mogul began in 1947. Why, when the USSR did not have nukes to test until 1949? I don’t know what may have crashed at Roswell, other than it was a UFO — that is, it is still technically unidentified, which is all a UFO is.
And cattle mutilations are certainly not just caused by natural predators or “Satanists.” Look at the surgical cuts, the cauterized wounds, and the complete desanguination of the animal with no vascular collapse, and no blood-spatter or footprints around the carcass. SOMEthing doesn’t add up, but no one takes time to really investigate, or to listen to those that have as they get shouted down by the so-called “skeptics.” I’m a skeptic, too — and I am skeptical of the “official” explanation.
Finally, saying that all reports of alien abductions are flat-out lies is incredibly insensitive to the obviously legitimately traumatized people who believe they have experienced them, and as far as the Great Pyramid at Giza — really? Ancient Egyptians built that? Then DO IT AGAIN. Even with our modern technology, you can’t. Someone should. No matter how much it would cost, it would certainly be worth it to get “conspiracy theorists” like me to shut the fuck up once and for all.
It’s easy to accept the official stories simply because they are “official” — but come on. Do you really think the government and media never lie to you? People need to do more research into these topics before they believe whatever they are told. THAT is “bad science.” As the book itself argues, if we are not open to new ideas and questioning the “official” answers, we end up killing the ideas of people like Galileo, Copernicus, and Darwin. If we always accepted the “official” story over true investigation, we would still think the earth is flat and be afraid of sailing off the edge. In this regard, Dan Brown and others like him shoot their own arguments in the balls (if their arguments HAD any balls to shoot).
Man, I suck at book reviews! And this is because I, too, have an agenda. Let’s get back to the book to get to that agenda, shall we? The title is, of course, Origin, and it gets its title from the search for the origin of life on Earth. The book promises to offer an answer to the age-old questions Where do we come from? Where are we going? — and it repeats and repeats and repeats these two questions to the point of annoying the holy Hell out of this reader. And yes, this book does a very good job at attempting to answer these questions in a thrilling and suspenseful way… but it focuses mainly on the simplistic and binary populist argument: a) God did it or b) random natural chemical reactions did it.
Can’t it be both? A little from column a and a little from column b? And when I suggest that perhaps there was a God-figure spiking the primordial soup, I mean the scientific possibility of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Where do we tinfoil hat types get this crazy idea? From the very texts that are responsible for the idea of creationism — the same source that gave us the apparently all-too-believable “magic and invisible sky-man” idea. How is THAT acceptable and the idea of an advanced alien species is not? Where’s the logic?!
The ancient Sumerian tablets that gave us our religious texts, the very same source of the creationist theory, when looked at in the literal sense rather than the fantastical, actually do tell a story that hints VERY heavily at the ET Hypothesis. The original language of these texts has been mistranslated and edited by countless scholars and kings for over 2000 years now, and yet we can still see indicators of possible extraterrestrial handiwork in our collective origin stories. Countless works have been written on the topic, and all of them examine the original cuneiform tablets, the original languages, the etymologies, and yes, even the scientific possibilities — scientific possibilities that our current civilization has just begun to understand for ourselves in the last 50 years, such as space travel, genetic modification, and cloning. Of course, when our ancestors wrote of them 5000+ years ago, they seemed like magic. If you went back in time to 7,000 BC with an iPad, you might be written into the ancient texts as a “god” yourself. The word used for “god” was “Elohim” — a plural noun, meaning “great ones.” If you and your family were sitting in your own filth in a cave without so much as a piece of flint in your technological arsenal, and all of a sudden some dudes floated down from the sky in a shiny metallic spaceship and showed you a YouTube tutorial about how to forge bronze tools, you just might think of them as “great ones” yourself.
Is it REALLY so unacceptable to look at these ancient writings and think that maybe, just MAYBE, there was some life-changing extraterrestrial interplay? Wouldn’t that be important enough to inspire the creation of the first written language known to humanity, just to record such a historical occasion?
The evidence IS THERE if you just look for it, and I dare say there is more evidence for the ET Hypothesis than there is for the “magic man in the sky” hypothesis. Ancient religions will not tell you about it because it’s bad for their business. And new religions like science and government will not tell you about it because it is also bad for THEIR business. I mean, who is going to change all of those museum exhibits to include all the weird stuff archaeologists have been digging up for the past 100 years?
Is religion a bad thing? Absolutely not. It gives idiots with inherent violent tendencies a reason to behave themselves. Is science a bad thing? Absolutely not. It gives us medicine and a better knowledge of ourselves and our world. But they are both double-edged swords as they both can represent tremendous sources of power, and the one truth about human nature is that power corrupts.
Origin is a fun read. I enjoyed it. However, its simplification of a very complex issue pissed me off. Never let anyone tell you that that’s all there is. There is VERY STRONG evidence to suggest that there is more — quite a bit more, in fact — to the story of our origins. While I encourage you to read, I encourage you to read everything you can… don’t just read what the mainstream tells you to read. Don’t believe them when they tell you that’s all that there is and to suggest otherwise is “bad science.” That’s what they tried to tell Copernicus. And now we look back on those who held authority over him as cruel and small-minded zealots.
Everyone has an agenda, even me. Get all the information. Do your own research. I know it is time consuming, but the alternative — believing those in power, accepting without question what the current authorities tell you as Truth… yeah, THAT’s never caused any problems before. Right?
While I did enjoy the book, I obviously do not entirely agree with its conclusions. I, personally, do believe that humans have had their genetic chemistry spiked by someone else, and I believe that the evidence of this is all around us — but there have been some very powerful interests involved in keeping it secret. Remember at the top of this post, I said that I am hiding away from the cancer-causing UV radiation of the summer sun? Why do you think it is that no other species on earth seems to have trouble with the local environment (that is, until we come along and fuck it up)? Why do you think it is that, despite the idea that all life on earth was created by the same spark of chemistry, only humans have developed to the level that we have? Why do we need to change the food sources here before we can consume them? We cook our meat, and we have been genetically modifying the local vegetation to make it palatable to us since the beginning of human history when we developed agriculture seemingly out of the blue (oddly enough, right around the same time that these “gods” were allegedly poking their advanced noses into our primitive progress). No other species does these things. And of all the species on this planet, we’re the only ones that, if left outside without the proper supplies, will die of exposure.
I do agree with the answer Origin supports for the second question, Where are we going? This is the idea that humans are about to merge with the technologies we are creating. Tech is evolving exponentially, much faster than we are. It could even lead to “eternal life” through cancer-killing nanotechnology and cellular regeneration… the very “eternal life” that all religions seem to have been promising from Day 1 and have yet never really been able to deliver. Perhaps this is what our “gods” were talking about thousands of years ago when they first showed up?
If you read some of my previous posts, you know that I believe these ancient “great ones” are still watching us. Perhaps they have us quarantined because their genetic experimentation has taken a wrong turn, we are still very primitive and dangerous, or perhaps they are more involved in our lives than we are aware. Either way, I, for one, am certain that there is truth in both ideas: Life can begin naturally, but “god(s)” can accelerate it and guide it to a lasting experience… as long as everyone remembers the golden rule: Be nice. Don’t kill. And keep learning. There is no place for zealotry in religion or science. Nor is there any place for burying evidence that doesn’t fit the promoted and accepted “official” version of any story. All evidence must be examined and considered, no matter how unsettling it may be. Otherwise, what good is a devotion to truth? Science becomes another religion, and we die in dogma rather than achieving our full potential.
Origin by Dan Brown is available now! So is a lot of other interesting stuff with a bit more of an informative approach. Get to your local bookstores and libraries now, before the evil summer sun gives you cancer.