Foucault's Pendulum discussion

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Foucault's Pendulum > Discussion thread 3: Foucault's Pendulum, Chapters 17 - 27.

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message 1: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments For discussion of Foucault's Pendulum, Chapter 17 through end of Chapter 27.


message 2: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Up to chapter 20, not crazy about the colonel, much as our heroes are not, I imagine. Did notice that Odin came up briefly and as he is the god of wisdom, among other things, I thought I'd mention it.


message 3: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Oh goodie, you did carry on. I was hoping people would see the link to the new thread themselves. I can't open multiple browser windows on the gym's PC's, and I can't copy and paste, so I can't copy and paste links or anything else, of course...


message 4: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments If you are still there, Traveller, you have my heartfelt sympathy.


message 5: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith | 26 comments Not to be weird, but I sort of need a kick in the tail these days.


message 6: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Sorry, guys. I got sidetracked. Will get back to this in a few hours; just need to take a short break... I wonder if we should perhaps focus less on fine detail, just to carry us trough, or else we're going to be sick of this before we get to the end? But that may just be my ADD speaking... :(


message 7: by Michele (new)

Michele It is your ADD speaking. For those who are willing to contribute fine detail, I love reading/seeing that stuff. Bring it!


message 8: by Traveller (last edited Dec 19, 2013 12:24AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Phew, it looks like this discussion has been hijacked by Christmas! I finally have time to get back to it, and now it seems everyone has left the party...

But in any case, just to get my feet back in again, I was thinking how much more effective this book must have been pre- the year 2000. One always looks backs and sniggers a bit at predictions made in books or TV shows about the turn of the millennium, doesn't one? How much the world changed in unexpected ways, but not much in some of the dramatic contexts that 20th century people used to hang on to the peg of that magical millennium number of years, counted from a date, which if you think about it, is probably quite arbitrary (The year 0 )

The other thing I thought to pen down quickly is how intriguing the tunnels under the hill in Provins sounds. I wanna visit that hill and see the tunnels!

*Sigh* and I haven't had a chance yet to check up the veracity of ye olde cryptographers that Eco refers to, but I'm assuming that yet again, he's using historically correct figures here.


message 9: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments I have been going through and checking the names and places, almost everything checks out, except the info on the maps. Here is a link to Fludd's Utriusque Cosmi Historia. worth a peek but at 700+ pages I haven't looked at it all yet.

https://archive.org/stream/utriusquec...


message 10: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Ruth wrote: "I have been going through and checking the names and places, almost everything checks out, except the info on the maps. Here is a link to Fludd's Utriusque Cosmi Historia. worth a peek but at 700..."

Good grief. Thanks for that, Ruth. I'll be honest in saying that I tend to get stuck at the reference-rich places of the book, when I don't have time to look it all up, so thanks for doing it for us, Ruth. :)

Aside from the references to real people, which I found less interesting, what I had found more interesting in this section (besides the drama with the Colonel, of course!), was all the references to how symbolism from various parts of the world and various cultures tie in with one another. I'm posting from a mobile now, but will say more about that when I get to my PC.

In the meantime, you're welcome to also comment more, of course, and thank you for helping me keep the discussion alive.


message 11: by Traveller (last edited Dec 22, 2013 06:52AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments So what do you think of Colonel Ardenti's convenient large leaps in logic? :D

I was quite interested to see Eco playing around not just with number patterns, but also with symbols. I had always thought of the Holy Grail as a cup or chalice, so the stone connection didn't make all that much sense to me.

Female virgins do seem to universally have some kind of magical symbolic power, don't they? I think they supposedly symbolise purity; and purity was a very powerful quality in medieval religious parlance.


message 12: by Puddin Pointy-Toes (last edited Dec 22, 2013 07:31AM) (new)

Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 14 comments Ardenti is the perfect conspiracy theorist. Everyone knows that 2+2 is actually 5, therefore 5+5 is obviously 20. So given this we can clearly infer that the year is actually 2011 and the world will end next year. It's simple, if you know how to look at the facts.


message 13: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments J. wrote: "Ardenti is the perfect conspiracy theorist. Everyone knows that 2+2 is actually 5, therefore 5+5 is obviously 20. So given this we can clearly infer that the year is actually 2011 and the world wil..."

Ha! Yes. I actually knew people like that, once. They believed that in the year 2006, these large spacecraft, which are actually the chariots of God, would come down and pick up the chosen ones before the earth is destroyed.

I'm not sure what they said when this did not happen. Some small miscalculation somewhere? Out by 20 or 200 years, perhaps? :P

..and isn't it obvious that the Grail is linked to the golden fleece, because they are both golden and have miraculous properties, and because the Argonauts saw a cup floating in the sky?

But the most obvious thing of course, is that Jesus was not a Jew, but from an Aryan race, and the story of Jesus from Celtic origin. I mean, just look at pictures of him, it should be obvious to anyone who has the sense to see it. ;)


message 14: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Exactly, J :)

It's been a while since I read that part so I can't remember if I laughed or rolled by eyes as the Colonel rambled on.

As for virgins, I never quite got that. I mean, once you make sure one is a virgin, she isn't any more, right? Reminds me of a joke of two virgins waiting on the edge of a volcano to be swallowed up as a sacrifice. One virgin looks at the other and says, "Boy, is he in for a surprise."


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 14 comments My god! How could I be so blind! Jason and the Argonauts and Excalibur are actually the same movie! Hollywood has been lying to us this whole time, and it's all to cover up the fact that the Templar secret is buried under the Hollywood sign! Why else would it contain the letters YWH? Answer me that!


message 16: by Dolors (last edited Dec 22, 2013 08:24AM) (new)

Dolors (luli81) | 30 comments I've been awol from the discussion thread but that doesn't mean I have stopped reading, and oh dear, even though I find myself in terra icognita most of the time I am finding the novel a gripping display of wit, erudition and intelligent humor.
When I read Ardenti's fanciful but familiar account I thought Eco was parodying the Holy Blood - Holy Grail" same old story. The fact that Ardenti is presented as some sort of ex-Nazi type who had no scruples about stealing that parchment to an innocent woman also can be seen as a forewarning as to the veracity of his suspicious account.


message 17: by Dolors (last edited Dec 22, 2013 08:50AM) (new)

Dolors (luli81) | 30 comments I was also dumbstruck by the Ardenti's cryptic reference to this mysterious scholar called "Rakosky", whom both Belbo and Casaubon don't know much about as it can be extracted from the following affirmation at the beginning of chapter 21.

"Did you notice how he quoted that Rakosky, or Rostropovich, as if the man were Kant?"

It seems both Belbo and Casaubon have forgotten all about the scientific method and their resolution to stick to certainty and logic after listening to Ardenti's conspiracy theory, which seems to be based on speculation and fashion rather than real facts. I guess Ardenti's theories are those first "drops of poison" Casaubon refers to at the beginning of chapter 21.


message 18: by Traveller (last edited Dec 22, 2013 11:18AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Cool observations.
Ruth, you might be shocked to know that girls were actually subjected to public examinations to find out if she was really a virgin, usually by a midwife underneath her clothing--Joan of Arc was subjected to such an examination (she was indeed a virgin according to the examiner), and I believe the Pope (is?) was felt over before being affirmed, to make sure that he is male and has all his bits present...

It seems that things were taken very literally in those days, besides that people were pretty sexist...


message 19: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat (janmaatlandlubber) Dolors wrote: "When I read Ardenti's fanciful but familiar account I thought Eco was parodying the Holy Blood - Holy Grail" same old story. The fact that Ardenti is presented as some sort of ex-Nazi type who had no scruples about stealing that parchment to an innocent woman also can be seen as a forewarning as to the veracity of his suspicious account. "

I think he is parodying that kind of story - holy blood holy grail published 1982, Foucault's pendulum was published 1988 and is very much a satire of it, also our propensity to be attracted to those kinds of stories, but through Colonel Ardenti (makes me thinks of al dente, but never mind...) and some of the others there's a more serious point in that these kind of ideas don't stay in books, they spill into real life in odd and generally unpleasant ways too.


message 20: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Jan-Maat wrote: "I think he is parodying that kind of story - holy blood holy grail published 1982, Foucault's pendulum was published 1988 and is very much a satire of it, also our propensity to be attracted to those kinds of stories, but through Colonel Ardenti.."

...and yet, there does seem to be some mystique attached to the Templars, who, as Causabon pointed out earlier, all confessed originally without demur. I've personally been wondering if they weren't perhaps offered some kind of 'deal' much as the DA does in modern "Law & Order" movies--as in 'spill the beans on your pals and we'll give you amnesty', kind of thing.


message 21: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat (janmaatlandlubber) Traveller wrote: "...and yet, there does seem to be some mystique attached to the Templars, who, as Causabon pointed out earlier, all confessed originally without demur."

Are you suggesting one ought to take Ardenti seriously? :) .

Keep reading. There is a mystique to the Templars purely because so many Ardenti types have built one up over the centuries. I don't think there is anything surprising about the confessions once one remembers that France at that time employed judicial torture as a method of pre-trial investigation and being found guilty would have led to the death penalty!


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 14 comments The Pope being examined for maleness is a myth, brought about by the story of the equally mythical Pope Joan. It makes for a nice story, though!


message 23: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments Traveller wrote: "Cool observations.
Ruth, you might be shocked to know that girls were actually subjected to public examinations to find out if she was really a virgin, usually by a midwife underneath her clothing..."


Nope, not shocked, though I am glad to hear that 'checking' in the Middle Ages was done by a woman and the subject was not deflowered in the process, unlike the Turkish police about a decade ago, where it was quite the opposite.


message 24: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments "these kind of ideas don't stay in books, they spill into real life in odd and generally unpleasant ways too."

Yup, Jan-Maat, that thought occurred to me also and made me more and more uncomfortable the further into the book I got.


message 25: by Traveller (last edited Dec 23, 2013 11:29AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Jan-Maat wrote: "Are you suggesting one ought to take Ardenti seriously? :) "

Ardenti? No.

Causabon? Perhaps. But I haven't finished the book yet...

J. wrote: "The Pope being examined for maleness is a myth, brought about by the story of the equally mythical Pope Joan. It makes for a nice story, though!"

Hm, interesting. Sources? Especially since I can't now find sources for my comment except on a Wikipedia talk page which states:

" There is also circumstantial evidence difficult to explain if there was never a female Pope. One example is the so-called chair exam, part of the medieval papal consecration ceremony for almost six hundred years. Each newly elected Pope after Joan sat on the sella stercoraria (literally, "dung seat"), pierced in the middle like a toilet, where his genitals were examined to give proof of his manhood. Afterward the examiner solemnly informed the gathered people, "Mas nobis nominus est" -- "Our nominee is a man." Only then was the Pope handed the keys of St. Peter. This ceremony continued until the sixteenth century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AP...


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Dec 23, 2013 11:49AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Oh! I still wanted to ask you what you people thought of Eco's commentary on Brazil... I didn't know Brazil had so much of an "African" focus.

Also, did you believe Belbo that he only found the Cagliostro ritual by chance? It seems a bit of a stretch to believe that it was a pure coincidence...


message 27: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Oh, and the thing with the Pope's chair distracted me from posting a rather horrible link to a reminder that humans can be worse than animals sometimes:

http://www.medievalwarfare.info/tortu...


message 28: by Dolors (last edited Dec 23, 2013 02:35PM) (new)

Dolors (luli81) | 30 comments Traveller wrote: "Oh! I still wanted to ask you what you people thought of Eco's commentary on Brazil... I didn't know Brazil had so much of an "African" focus.

Also, did you believe Belbo that he only found the ..."


My intake of the "Brazil episode" is that mysterious Agliè is trying to introduce Casaubon to the supposedly occult forces that run deep in the roots of special aborigines or ancient tribes as a counterpoint to his logical and rationalistic approach to understanding history and truth. Is mysticism a valid answer? That's what I thought Eco was trying to present through Agliè's vouch for spiritualism.
Changing subjects. I find myself sort of liking Amparo, who seems a dedicated Marxist with a firmly held materialistic view of the world. There's a lot to be said about the female characters in this novel. I am taking a mental note not to forget when the time comes! :)


message 29: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments I had always assumed a strong Africa presence in Brazil, but maybe that's because my Brazilian proudly claimed a strong Africa element in their lives.


message 30: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Thread four continues the discussion here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 31: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments I'm just beginning to catch up after letting myself be distracted by far too many things over Christmas.

I found Diotallevi's numerology hilarious, and am not sure yet whether it was deliberately wrong and he was just goading Ardenti, or whether he actually believes his numbers are valid.

"In every century then—or, strictly speaking, every hundred and twenty years [keep your eye on the ball now!]—there would always be six keepers for each place, or thirty-six in all.

"Thirty-six knights for each of the six places…"


oops. He's used the six places twice! But remember the ball…

"…makes two hundred and sixteen…. And since there are six centuries…"

And he drops the ball! What does six centuries have to do with anything? He's already said that a century is really 120 years, and there are only five of those!

It's easy to make those numbers add up to anything you want if you're allowed, as J says, to have 2+2=5. And, of course, he is stopping and pointing out that the sum of the digits is nine whenever it actually is.

Similarly, Ardenti has taken a coded message, applied a random code to it and got another coded message, and applied a second [semi-]random code to that [strictly not random as he chose to just use the next sequential code after the one he used first—but who would do that? These are codes that have been known—to that point—for 1400 years, since Julius Caesar], to get a third message that is still not clear-text, and to which he imparts his own meaning.


message 32: by Traveller (last edited Jan 01, 2014 01:06AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Goodness, Derek, my head was already hurting before I looked at this thread- how can you be so lucid this time of the year? I've found you out--you're actually a machine, aren't you? A cyborg! No, wait, I'm sure you'll point out to me that a cyborg is actually half-human.

*Trav casts her mind fuzzily back and tries to remember what was once said in a convo about vampires and werewolves and hairy backs...*

...but aaannnywaaayyy, to get back to the issues at hand...
I noticed that Eco mischievously lets certain characters make these huge leaps in and liberties with logic, yeah, but in any case, well-spotted on the detail there...

My brain is too much like cotton wool atmo to reply any more analytically than that right now, tho I actually thought that Ardenti was the one making the leaps in logic, but I'll have to look up that bit of text again...


message 33: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Ardenti certainly has a loose connection with the scientific method, but Diotallevi's supposed to have a pretty good understanding of the cabala, at least for a layman, so I am leaning towards him deliberately winding Ardenti up.

I've wanted to be a cyborg ever since (at least) The Six Million Dollar Man. Imagine doing that for $6,000,000 now...


message 34: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments In chapter 23 there is the following quote:

“I gave up trying to establish where progress lay, and where revolution, or to see the plot -- as Amparo's [Brazilian] comrades expressed it -- of capitalism. How could I continue to think like a European once I learned that the hopes of the far left were kept alive by a Nordeste bishop suspected of having harbored Nazi sympathies in his youth but who now faithfully and fearlessly held high the torch of revolt, upsetting the wary Vatican and the barracudas of Wall Street, and joyfully inflaming the atheism of the proletarian mystics won over by the tender yet menacing banner of a Beautiful Lady who, pierced by seven sorrows, gazed down on the sufferings of her people?”

I'm missing it, who is this Nordeste Bishop? (I know I'll feel stupid as soon as someone tells me.)


message 35: by Traveller (last edited Jan 01, 2014 11:22AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Ruth, he seems to be talking about some bishop from the Northeastern region (Nordest) of Brazil, but unfortunately my knowledge of Brazilian history is not good enough. (It's basically at total idiot level, frankly :P)

However, I'm busy trying to track it down for you...


message 36: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments Okay, I give up. I can't find it, but honestly, I think it's just a very casual aside and not important at all to the plot. I'm sure people who were up to date on all the news in the 70's and 80's might remember what he is talking about, and since the book was published in 1988, people might at that time still have known what he was talking about, but, hey, I feel quite confident that at least 70% of people who read this book don't know what he is talking about at least 50% of the time...


message 37: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 45 comments I can agree with those statistics :) Makes me feel better anyway :)

Thanks for trying!


message 38: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Chapter 17:"But that’s another story, because the Mongols are at our gates even now."

Who are our gates now? Obviously there is a metaphor here. So, who are the Mongols, according to the colonel?


message 39: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments "Barbarians at the gates" is a common metaphor in English, for anything that threatens culture or an established way of life. But in this case, I had assumed the colonel meant the threat to his own investigation.


message 40: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments I don't think so. In my opinion, this is a political comment. As we understand from the colonel's CV and from the wars in which he fought, he is extrem-right politically. So i think that with this phrase he was referred to a contemporary political situation. But i can't understand to which!


message 41: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Well it's pretty much the definition of "extreme right" (by the not-so-right) that they are the people who always believe the barbarians are at the gates. In the particular context of the times in Italy, well, yes, the barbarians really are at the gates as everything seems to be for sale, especially justice.


message 42: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments I used this term (extreme right) because the colonel is appeared as supporter of the italian fascist party. (i.e."Then a major back in Africa, until we abandoned our colonies".In the italian edition, Eco used the term "Forth Shore", which was used by the fascist in their plan of Imperial Italy).


message 43: by Vasilis (new)

Vasilis Loupegidis | 8 comments Then the true story told by that rock of Erik at Avalon would be known(from Chapter 20). Does anyone know who is this Erik or that rock?


message 44: by EdMohs (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments Vasilis wrote: "Then the true story told by that rock of Erik at Avalon would be known(from Chapter 20). Does anyone know who is this Erik or that rock?"

O the ROCK
good question!

As I recall Casaubon got real specific with the Colonel about the rock. Very telling...

I definitely need to look back in my files...
what was that password again?
Ha Ha


message 45: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 207 comments I admit I'd have to go back to the book again myself, - it's been a while too long to be able to recall that in much detail.


message 46: by Derek (last edited Mar 23, 2015 08:27AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments I'm afraid that I missed Vasilis' question at the time.

The colonel's talking about "reading" Chartres Cathedral, and I'm fairly certain that "that rock" is merely the stones of the cathedral itself. Which doesn't help explain who Erik is, and Avalon afaik is purely legendary. What Chartres would know of Avalon is beyond me.


message 47: by EdMohs (last edited Mar 24, 2015 06:52PM) (new)

EdMohs (stedmo) | 31 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: What Chartres would know of Avalon is beyond me.
"


Ha Ha !

We must remember that the Eric of Avalon comment/connection
comes from Col. Ardenti fevered mind.
No idea who Eric is, either.
I suppose if we could ask the Colonel he’d give us quite a dissertation.
But first we’d have find him. Ha!

Mythically the Grail may have resided on Avalon Isle.
And the Grail been taken for a Rock or Stone and many other Objects.


But in that part of the discussion about Chartres they weren’t talking about the ‘ROCK’. It was more about the Black Virgins & the Celts. In Chartres supposedly there are icon/statues of black virgins, which are Celtic tradition and Chartres built to honor that tradition according to the good Colonel. But to confuse matters even more the Black Virgins were associated with prime matter or better known as the Philosophers Stone!
Ya just can get away from a good rolling rock...


message 48: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 61 comments Ed wrote: "But in that part of the discussion about Chartres they weren’t talking about the ‘ROCK’."

Certainly not. I was thinking it's more along the lines of "if these walls could talk..."


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