Da Vinci Code

This book and the subsequent movie reminds me of “Rising Sun” (Michael Crichton). I had lived in Japan and was an Asian Studies major at Cal State Long Beach at the time the book was published.

Crichton sought to capitalize on the popular notion that Japan was bent on ‘conquering’ the United States by buying it. There was a lot of talk about how Crichton had done huge amounts of research. The book included a several pages long bibliography of scholarly works on Japan. Sharon Sievers, my Japanese History professor at the time, told me that Japan Scholars all over the country were searching the book to see if they had been quoted or listed in the bibliography. Those who had not were heaving sighs of relief.

There was plenty of allusion to the notion that Rising Sun was in fact prophesying the future if America did not do something about the new Yellow Peril. Probably most comical of all was the fact that Japan’s economic bubble had burst in 1989 and by 1992 when Crichton’s book was published Japan’s economy was entering a recession from which it has yet to recover.

“The Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown) strikes me a very similar. Dan Brown plays on popular notions in a time when it is popular to poke holes in and fun at Christianity. Dan Brown grabs a handful of sexy alternative theories about Christ and Christianity and weaves them together in a fictional story that covers two thousand years. The Da Vinci Code was never intended as an academic work. It was intended to entertain and, given its success in the marketplace, I would venture a sizable bet that it is a very entertaining story.

I read Rising Sun when it came out. I thought it was a good story. The Japan in Crichton’s Rising Sun bore about as much resemblance to the real Japan as Crichton’s America did to real America. They were fictional places in a work of fiction. The point of both books is to entertain. I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code but I can say that Rising Sun was/is very entertaining. Best not to take either book too seriously. Neither the movies.


[posted with ecto]

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