Foucault's Pendulum discussion

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Foucault's Pendulum > Discussion thread 2: Foucault's Pendulum Chapters 7 - 16

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message 1: by Traveller (last edited Nov 26, 2013 12:40PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments For discussion of Foucault's Pendulum, Chapter 7 through to end of Chapter 16.

We've started picking up on Eco's pranks.
Of course, the most obvious prank in this section, is in Chapter 11, (view spoiler)

More pranks and riffery takes place with the cretins and the fools in chapter 10. (view spoiler)

I've realized that the entire Chapter 11 is a reference to other works, but I can't quite lay my finger on all of them. I'm hoping other group members will be sharper and will have spotted a few more.

In any case, I wonder if Seven Seas Jim is a mixture of Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (since there is also mention of "Kurz" the antagonist in Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, and perhaps Treasure Island ?


message 2: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith | 26 comments Just completed ch 12. The Pilade's sections (8 and 10)are intriguing, not as atmospheric as didactic, a conversation over drinks which is decidedly sober.

I apologize for my cross-pollination, leaving thoughts on classification int eh first thread. Such reveals a great deal about me.


message 3: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith | 26 comments RE Msg 1:
Trav does a find job of pointing to the wonky digressions of the Hobbit. The autobiographical measures are still cryptic to me, not quite inscrutable but I always feel ill at ease.


message 4: by Traveller (last edited Nov 30, 2013 01:49PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Yes, people, please don't forget to read under the spoiler tags in message 1. :) I put it under the tags mainly to keep to the thread a bit shorter.

Re the history Causabon gives us of the Templars: I have a film called Soldier of God, which is almost a literal depiction of what we read in Chapter 13. Well, the 'story' is different, but it depicts to a T the 'rules' the Templars were supposed to follow.


message 5: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments When he talks of Ariosto and Joinville, I think it is of this Joinville: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_de_...

and this Ariosto : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludovico...

, although I may be wrong about the latter. I'd be glad if anyone who knows better could correct me on that.


message 6: by Traveller (last edited Dec 03, 2013 09:47AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments There's something I've been wanting to mention about the conversation in the pub where Casaubon is telling the others about the Templars. About when the girl comes around with pamphlets where they should protest for 'our comrades in prison'.

I think one of the things that Eco seems to love doing, is to interweave present and past and sort of juxtapose/compare the present with the past. In this case the girl's interruption fits in with the subject matter at hand, being the Templar's trial and imprisonment.

Later on, Eco does it again with the anti-fascist demonstration in Milan, doing the opposite of juxtaposing past with present, where Casaubon & co juxtaposes/mingles present with past.


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 14 comments I hadn't noticed about the demonstration, Traveller! The parallel during the Templar story-telling I did catch, but not the other one... The text is so dense sometimes it leaves me completely spent, but not in an unpleasant way. :)


message 8: by Traveller (last edited Dec 03, 2013 09:50AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Just to be clear about which bit I had meant, it's this one:
(view spoiler)


message 9: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Traveller wrote: "When he talks of Ariosto and Joinville, I think it is of this Joinville: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_de_...

and this Ariosto : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludovico...

, although..."

Definitely the Joinville is that Joinville. I can't see any other Ariosto that fits.


message 10: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Thanks Ruth. Yes, I'm sure about the Joinville, but the Ariosto, although a chronicler of adventures such as the Crusaders and Templars would have had, does seem to have a lived a bit later.

I'm not too sure what Eco/Casaubon is trying to point out with the comparison.


message 11: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Beards have come up a couple of times so far. I only noticed it because they are in quotes I marked. The first is in Chapter 11: You are God, you wander through the city, you hear people talking about you, God this, God that, what a wonderful universe this is, and how elegant the law of gravity, and you smile to yourself behind your fake beard (no, better to go without a beard, because in a beard God is immediately recognizable).

The second is in Chapter 13: This was the dawn of great changes in style. Until the beginning of the sixties, beards were fascist, and you had to trim them, and shave your cheeks, in the style of Italo Balbo; but by '68 beards meant protest, and now they were becoming neutral, universal, a matter of personal preference. Beards have always been masks (you wear a fake beard to keep from being recognized), but in those years, the early seventies, a real beard was also a disguise. You could lie while telling the truth -- or, rather, by making the truth elusive and enigmatic. A man's politics could no longer be guessed from his beard. That evening, beards seemed to hover on clean-shaven faces whose very lack of hair suggested defiance.


message 12: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments I'm surprised that pataphysics did not come up in the discussion for courses in the School of Comparative Irrelevance, or did I miss it?


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 14 comments I wonder if the equation of beards with fascism (or possibly another negative association) was also prevelant in the United States at the time. If so it may explain the phenomenon of Spock's beard. Regardless facial hair definite does transform a person; I had a very clear reminder of this during Movember, when I could barely recognize one of my colleagues after a couple of weeks.

I am aware Eco himself sports a rather full chin-bush, but I wonder whether this was always the case for him, or if his preference changed with the times.


message 14: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Ruth wrote: "Beards have come up a couple of times so far. I only noticed it because they are in quotes I marked. The first is in Chapter 11: You are God, you wander through the city, you hear people talking ..."

Ah, thanks for mentioning that, Ruth. It was in fact one of the things I had wanted to comment on; but I mentally mark so many things to comment on, that I forget half of them again by the time I reach my PC.

The remark that I had wanted to make about the beards, is that actually what Eco is commenting on there fits in with Eco's interest in semiotics. The 'beard as a symbol' is a good example of one of the codes you find in semiotics, namely, it would fall under social codes. (Remember that semiotics is the study of signs, codes and how they convey meaning.)


message 15: by Dolors (new)

Dolors (luli81) | 30 comments I found it pretty funny that the beginning of chapter 13 starts with the description of a fascist physiognomy and that throughout the discussion in the pub Diotallevi, with all his passion for cabala, he insists on his Jewish heritage,which is apparently totally unfounded. Also the passage where Casaubon addresses the templars as not racists because "they fought the Moslems in a spirit of chivalry and with mutual respect" only to have Belbo's assessment a few pages later that the "Moor is cruel." It seems to me as if Eco is blatantly using his cleverness and erudition to play Tom and Jerry and "disinform" rather than "enlighten" the reader.


message 16: by Traveller (last edited Dec 04, 2013 01:33PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Dolors wrote: " It seems to me as if Eco is blatantly using his cleverness and erudition to play Tom and Jerry and "disinform" rather than "enlighten" the reader. "

I think he is absolutely playing a cat and mouse game with us, Dolors! I think that he plays just a little bit of devil's advocate here and there, and that he makes subtle jokes that you'll pick up if you know what he's referring to...

J. wrote: "I am aware Eco himself sports a rather full chin-bush, but I wonder whether this was always the case for him, or if his preference changed with the times. "

I've seen photo's of him with various fulness beards. Maybe he's just saving time on shaving. ;)
Re beards; they also have some religious significance, for instance some Judaic sects believe that men (or that may be people generally, though women don't really count so much :P) should not cut their hair, and therefore not shave their beards; there is also some mystical reason why the head should be covered. I should look it up, apologies for being lazy right now.

Ruth wrote: "I'm surprised that pataphysics did not come up in the discussion for courses in the School of Comparative Irrelevance, or did I miss it?"

Pataphysics sounds like just the kind of thing that Eco would come up with. :D

Btw, I the loved courses in the School of Comparative Irrelevance. Eco is obviously having a lot of fun. I vote that we have some too, and come up with our own courses.


message 17: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith | 26 comments I found Trav's point about justaposition of the historical and the present/political to be ace; I like how Casubon baits the woman in a controversialist manner, just as opinion remained so flexible concerning the Templars.


message 18: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Jonfaith wrote: " I like how Casubon baits the woman in a controversialist manner, just as opinion remained so flexible concerning the Templars. "

Yes, and she didn't even know exactly what she was rallying for --it was all catch-phrases-- and it was simply assumed people would support whatever her vague cause was.


message 19: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Traveller wrote: "Jonfaith wrote: " I like how Casubon baits the woman in a controversialist manner, just as opinion remained so flexible concerning the Templars. "

Yes, and she didn't even know exactly what she wa..."


Typical, in my experienc, unfortunately.


message 20: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Yes, the School of Comparative Irrelevance is my favorite so far as well. New courses now on the brain and coming soon to a GR website near you.


message 21: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Just a few things for chapter 16 (I do wish I could post photos -- here are the links anyway).
- "Thus wisdom creates cowards."
- cool photo of Struwwelpeter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:H_H...
- photos of 'camauros' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camauro

And a question. To which of the 387 events for Sept 8 is Belbo refering?


message 22: by Traveller (last edited Dec 05, 2013 09:33AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Ha! I was wondering who Struwwelpeter was and how bad his hair really was. The gel sounded terrible.



I was also wondering how much of what Belbo writes about himself, is biographical in regard to Eco, who must be around the same age. Born in 1932, so...

Oh! And about the gang. Note that they also had a joining rite, which of course nicely highlights the earlier comments that the Templars might indeed have done some of the things they were accused of, as part of a joining ritual.


message 23: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Thank you for getting the photo up there, Traveller! :)


message 24: by Dolors (last edited Dec 05, 2013 11:02AM) (new)

Dolors (luli81) | 30 comments Thanks for those pictures Ruth, Eco knows how choose his references well. Heh, Trav. The gel sequence reminded me of "There's something about Mary", I know, not very erudite, but Eco encourages contrasts so there I leave that for posterity.
And Trav, regarding this joining ritual you mention. When Belbo is to receive the hundred kicks in his behind to be admitted into the gang, he ironically thinks the purpose of the trashing might be to reawaken his "serpent Kundalini".
I was unfamiliar with this yogic term and after searching for its meaning I was surprised to find it described as a "form of feminine corporeal energy" which seems to purify the soul to reach complete and pure spiritual enlightenment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini

I find it funny that for the moment, femininity seems to be linked to the spiritual, almost mystical world, first Sophia/Lorenza and now this little reference here.


message 25: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat (janmaatlandlubber) Traveller wrote: "Oh! And about the gang. Note that they also had a joining rite, which of course nicely highlights the earlier comments that the Templars might indeed have done some of the things they were accused of, as part of a joining ritual."

Yes that is an ongoing parallel between actual events and fancypants mystical versions of the same. There's a reoccuring undercutting of the mystical - I suppose this is continued in Baudolino in which Eco has fictional very ordinary and very political origins for many of the legends that crop up in this book.


message 26: by Michele (new)

Michele I'm a little distracted this week, but just some things that hit me. First once I got to the Tom and Jerry comment, I thought, "Well ya, more like the Marx Brothers." The made up areas of college study were hilarious.

Then when the story of the Templars was being told, it was such a shift for me into a kind of straight historical summary, that I didn't know whether I was reading an actual summary or being messed with. I had to ask the hubby if that was the real story of the Templars. Hubby told me his summary and it matched almost perfectly. So, then I could relax.

(I think Hubby LOVES secret societies based on what he reads and watches on TV so I knew that he would know. He read this book long ago, for instance.)

I thought all the references to whether there were homosexual relations between Templars, were there not, could they abstain, did they sit next to each other in the saddle as pictured, etc. were pretty entertaining.


message 27: by Michele (new)

Michele In the spirit of new areas of collegiate study, I just saw this....

https://twitter.com/squartadoc/status...


message 28: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments FUN! :) Thanks, Michele


message 29: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Oh no.. just as we were really starting to have fun, I have a bit of bad news from my side... our ADSL line is broken, and so our internet is down at home. (Why do these things always happen on a Friday?)

My service provider has just informed me that it will take at least 1 WORKING day to fix, meaning, Monday evening at the soonest... :((((

I went in to my local gym to use their internet to at least let you guys know and apologize for my absence.

I'll come in to the gym again tomorrow morning in order to create our next thread- or wait, it's already created, so you guys must just carry on with it as soon as you're ready, ok?

I'll still come in to the gym anyway, but I wanted to apologise in advance...

Grrr, how frustrating.


message 30: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments The next thread is here, if you people are ready: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 31: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Hello! I am very happy to join to your group.
I am Greek and i read Foucault's Pendulum in a greek edition, but the translation isn't very good. So, many times, when i can't understand the meaning, i read the italian edition or the english one.
In Chapter 13, the passage is as follows in the english edition:
“We prefer the oral tradition,” Belbo said.
“It’s more mystical,” Diotallevi said. “God created the world by speaking, He didn’t send a telegram.”
“Fiat lux, stop,” Belbo said.
“Epistle follows,” I said.

In the greek and in the italian edition the passage is a little different. Like this:
“Fiat lux, stop! Below epistle” Belbo said.
“To the Thessalonians, i guess” I said.

Can anyone tell me, why Eco refered to the Epistle to the Thessalonians specifically. Why did he choose this one?

I apologise for my english. :)


message 32: by Marina (new)

Marina | 6 comments Hi Vasili,

it's interesting that the English translation is not as literal as the Greek one. I'd noticed the same with The name of the rose. I've not read the Greek translation through, but one can see this tendency from the first few pages. Perhaps this is what makes the English translation smoother?

As for the choice of the Epistle to the Thessalonians, I wonder if Eco just randomly chose a long rambling epistle (not necessarily the longest) just to contrast with the short telegraphic "Fiat Lux"? Of course there might be more to it than that, but I can't see the reason either.


message 33: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Hi guys! Interesting question! I will research it a bit and come back to you later on. :) Maybe some of the other members have a reply to this.

But isn't it amazing how different tranlations of the same book can give you a totally different experience? I noticed this first with books tranlated from Russian.


message 34: by Derek (last edited Jul 23, 2014 10:52AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Vasilis wrote: "Hello! I am very happy to join to your group.
I am Greek and i read Foucault's Pendulum in a greek edition, but the translation isn't very good. So, many times, when i can't understand the meaning,..."


It's handy to have a few languages for this sort of thing!

http://courses.logos.it/plscourses/li...

Deals with this passage and its translation directly, but I confess it doesn't mean a lot to me.

But the summary seems to be that while it wasn't a literal translation, Eco seems to like it better than the original.


message 35: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Marina wrote: "As for the choice of the Epistle to the Thessalonians, I wonder if Eco just randomly chose a long rambling epistle (not necessarily the longest) just to contrast with the short telegraphic "Fiat Lux"? "

It's longer than many, but shorter, counting both Epistles (at least in number of chapters-I didn't count pages or words) than Romans, Corinthians or Hebrews.

I wonder if it's just that the title "Thessalonians" is the longest of any epistle?


message 36: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments It occurs to me that probably the only books I've ever read completely in multiple translations are books of the bible... Which can certainly take quite different meanings depending on the translation.


message 37: by Marina (new)

Marina | 6 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Marina wrote: "As for the choice of the Epistle to the Thessalonians, I wonder if Eco just randomly chose a long rambling epistle (not necessarily the longest) just to contrast with the short teleg..."

You are right it's long but it's not the longest. I thought that Eco just decided to pick a random long epistle and his final choice rested on how he liked the sound of the title. The length of it may well have been a factor in his choice. I'm having a crazy week and have little time for research but I suppose there's not something in the content of this epistle to distinguish it from the others?


message 38: by Vasilis (last edited Jul 24, 2014 03:04AM) (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Interesting answers! I tend to believe that Eco randomly chose this epistle. Obviously, if anyone else has an other opinion, it would be interesting to listen it.

Generally, the greek editions of Eco's novels don't have really good translations. Sometimes seem to be extremely literal and so the reader cannot understand the meaning.


message 39: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Another question from the same chapter (13).

“The stylite was Saint Simeon,” Belbo said, “and I think he stayed on that column so he could spit on the people who walked below.’’
“The stylite was Saint Simeon,” Belbo said, “and I think he stayed on that column so
he could spit on the people who walked below.’’
“How I detest the cynicism of the Enlightenment,” Diotallevi said. “In any case, whether Macarius or Simeon, I’m sure there was a stylite with worms, but of course. I’m no authority on the subject, since the follies of the gentiles don’t interest me.”

1) Does Ecco imply something with the Belbo's phrase "he stayed on that column so he could spit on the people who walked below?". It seems to me as he wants to deride something.
2)Why does Diotallevi detest the cynicism of the Englightment? I mean, what is the connection between Englightment and stylites?

Thanks in advance


message 40: by Traveller (last edited Jul 25, 2014 04:27AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Vasilis wrote: "Another question from the same chapter (13).

“The stylite was Saint Simeon,” Belbo said, “and I think he stayed on that column so he could spit on the people who walked below.’’
“The stylite was S..."


Hi Vasilis!
Well, the section of Foucault's Pendulum that you're referring to, deals of course with the asceticism of the Templars, and how aspects of it led people to believe that they were inclined to perform homosexual acts.
Part of their asceticism, had to do with humility and the abasement of the body which was expressed by them never cleaning or grooming themselves.

Their bodies therefore being dirty and filthy and unhygienic, reminded Diotallevi of the ascetic who lived on a pillar (and therefore could not/would not attend to personal hygiene), to which Belbo corrected him regarding the name of the ascetic who had lived thus (being the first stylite, St. Simeon).

It appears as if Belbo makes a sarcastic remark regarding St Simeon's piety, pointing out that although the saint was supposedly humble, his elevation on a pillar gave him a potential opportunity to spit on people, (in other words, it allowed him to "look down" on people and made him appear elevated; therefore not quite as humble as he seemingly wanted himself to appear)--I think this is just basically a remark to denote Belbo's cynicism regarding piety and asceticism.

So, when Diotallevi remarks on the cynicism of the Enlightenment, it appears that he means Belbo's cynicism - remember Diotallevi is the one who believes himself to be a Jew, and Belbo is the cynic, the non-believer.
The Enlightenment, of course, was cynical in the sense that it rejected religion and superstition and promoted rationalism. Belbo represents, therefore, Enlightenment rationalism (and cynicism).


message 41: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Thank you very much. Your explanation was very clear. :)


message 42: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Traveller wrote: "The Enlightenment, of course, was cynical in the sense that it rejected religion and superstition and promoted rationalism. Belbo represents, therefore, Enlightenment rationalism (and cynicism). "

Right on. There's also the disjunction between Cynicism (the philosophical school) and the modern meaning of cynicism. I'm not sure that the Enlightenment was particularly motivated by either: rationalism isn't cynicism, and rejecting religion and superstition doesn't come close to any dictionary meaning of cynicism that I can find (e.g., "belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest" and "contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motive"). A pole-sitter may well be a Cynic: it seems extreme, but Cynicism and asceticism certainly have similarities.

Diotallevi has to be referring to Belbo with the "cynicism of the Enlightenment" comment, because Simeon (and Macarius, whichever one he meant) is more than a millenium before the Enlightenment). So he's calling Belbo a cynic—but of course he's one of the founders of The Plan, which is far more cynical than either Simeon (as Belbo ascribes his motives) or anything Belbo has done to this point.


message 43: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Yeah, actually a lot of dichotomies around the word cynicism.... the first cynics, as in the Greek school of thought (see http://www.iep.utm.edu/cynics/ ) were actually quite far removed from the modern idea of cynicism, but I still think the word in it's purest form, especially in a philosophical sense, denotes an attitude that questions rather than one that simply blindly accepts.

Part of the dichotomy is that the Enlightenment may have been cynical about myth, religion, superstition and untested folklore, but it was definitely more humanist inclined than had been say, the kind of religious asceticism practiced by the Templars and by other medieval religious orders, who spurned "everything of this world".


message 44: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments "Dichotomy"—yeah, that was the word I was looking for :-) I have a huge vocabulary, and often no way to drag those words off either the tip of my tongue or my fingers...

I wonder, also, if the modern usage of "cynic" in English even applies in Italian? But I think it must.


message 45: by EdMohs (last edited Mar 22, 2015 12:28PM) (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments Vasilis wrote: "Hello! I am very happy to join to your group.
I am Greek and i read Foucault's Pendulum in a greek edition, but the translation isn't very good. So, many times, when i can't understand the meaning,..."


Excellent!
This is just the sort of thing that make me scratch my head in F.P.
And I've lost lots of hair over this book. Ha Ha !


message 46: by EdMohs (last edited Mar 22, 2015 08:28PM) (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments I just did a quick perusal of Thessalonian's.

The subject matters seems to be dealing with veracity of Gospel.
Maybe it was chosen to illustrate the truth of the 'Plan'?

As an experiment I replaced the word 'God' in the text of Thessalonian with 'the Plan'.

The reading started sounding like something Aglie would pontificate on
from Belbo's perspective.

But perhaps it was just a random choice or because its one the longest names as mentioned above.

He could have chosen 'Revelation' to follow...
[slygrin]


message 47: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Ed wrote: "As an experiment I replaced the word 'God' in the text of Thessalonian with 'the Plan'.

The reading started sounding like something Aglie would pontificate on from Belbo's perspective. "


LOL! That's part of the whole problem, though. If you look for conspiracies, you'll always find them. Plugging "The Plan" into any book of the Bible would likely make a kind of sense, especially since the meaning of biblical books tends to be a tad obscure in the first place. Replacing "One Ring" with "Plan" in Lord of the Rings might sound equally mysterious.


message 48: by EdMohs (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments I'm back! 2019 and re-reading the Pendulum, It keeps coming around. ha ha Anyway maybe Thessalonian means-- the thesis is longing....


message 49: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments EdMohs wrote: "It keeps coming around"

<groan />

EdMohs wrote: "the thesis is longing"

More <groan /> Don't quit your day job!


message 50: by EdMohs (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments Derek wrote:

More Don't quit your day job!"


ma gavte la nata


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