News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.

March 8-14, 2006

home | metro silicon valley index | columns | silicon alleys

Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Alleys

Code Breaker

By Gary Singh

'THE DA VINCI CODE' is one of the silliest books ever written. And guess what? I've never even read it. So how do I know? I'll tell you why. I never explored this obviously cheesy thriller because I already possessed all the nonfiction stuff that novelist Dan Brown got the ideas from.

In fact, years ago I amassed probably an entire shelf's worth of books about the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, the Gnostic Gospels, Mary Magdalene, Secret Societies, the Rosicrucians and royal bloodlines. Now, of course, you can seriously argue that much of this "nonfiction" is bogus, but as soon as the Da Vinci Code hysteria swept across America a few years ago, I could do nothing but put my face down in my hands in utter disgust. As the novel flew off the shelves, the millions gobbling it up would probably never realize that the whole thing was based on years of research by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, which resulted in their 1982 nonfiction book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Brown was just spoonfeeding the general public the same ideas from HBHG, but packaging it as an airplane novel. Millions would buy the thing just for the subject matter and not even care whether it was even a good novel.

But the public did eventually figure it out, because The Da Vinci Code's staggering run atop the bestseller lists eventually led to the resurrection of HBHG, which then shot up to the Top 10 on the nonfiction lists.

And now the plot has thickened. Two of HBHG's authors are suing Random House, the publisher of both books. They're claiming Dan Brown ripped off the "architecture" of their book and 15 core elements of their research. The case went to court last week.

If you're not familiar with the hysteria (spoiler warning for those who are waiting for the Da Vinci Code movie), HBHG concluded that Jesus did not die on the cross. Instead, it asserts, he lived and sired children with Mary Magdalene, the bloodline of which still exists today. And those who can claim this bloodline have been part of a millennia-old secret society bent on creating a new United States of Europe with them in charge. The book has been simultaneously lauded and lambasted across the globe for 25 years now, so I won't go into it, but I will say it is indeed a remarkable occult detective story nevertheless.

If you want a more scholarly book on Freemasonry's connections to the Knights Templar without the sensationalistic overtones, go snag John J. Robinson's Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry. I found my copy at Recycle Books about eight years ago and the name Albert W. Dixon is handwritten on the front page. Whether this is the same Albert Dixon who used to run the San Jose Museum of Art I never did find out, but in any event, Born in Blood is one of the most persuasive books on the subject, written by someone who wasn't even a Mason at the time he wrote it.

After I had gotten a third of the way through it, I found myself walking down the street, and someone approached me, pointing to the book. He was probably in his late 20s or early 30s. He walked up and asked, "Do you like that book?"

"Yeah, so far," I answered. "But I just started it, though."

Then, in what I thought was a non sequitur, he asked, "Are you traveling?"

I didn't know how to answer and I thought he was inquiring whether I had been on a trip recently. So I said, "Nah, not a for a while. It's been a year or so."

We both said "later" and he turned the corner and went down a cross street. As I continued down the street for a few minutes, it suddenly occurred to me that he meant something entirely different by that question. Lo and behold, when I got further into the book, I discovered that in ancient times, one way that Masons identified each other was by questions in code, like, "How far have you traveled?" meaning, how far along are you on the spiritual path. Or something like that. I guess you'll have to ask an actual Mason yourself.

The bottom line is this: Forget all the Da Vinci Code nonsense and at least try to explore some genuine books on the subject. Born in Blood is a good place to start. And I have Albert W. Dixon to thank for all this, whoever he is.

Send a letter to the editor about this story.