Friday, December 24, 2010

Ruminations by a reader of Umberto Eco, particularly on Focaults Pendulum.

I have heard and read a bit about the term 'Textual pleasure', pleasure of reading etc. Foucault's Pendulum is one of very few works that have given me such an reading experience which could (based on my reading ) similar to Calvino and Marquez. Not even his other works like 'The Name Of the Rose' etc gave this. (Maybe I am a secret sucker for cults, conspiracy theories)

The absurdities of conspiracy theories and cults and the manner in which people sort of identify and get obsessed with them is the telling feature of this work.  UFO conspiracies, JFK assasination, Hitlers death consipiracy are still in vogue even today.I get the idea that 'Truths are created, not found out and even the creation sometimes happens incidentally without any special effort from the people involved'. I am reminded of a passage from this novel, where the characters debate on the origin of Christ myth. One of them says that probably 12 fishermen met at an inn and discussed a story about a person-Christ and went on their own ways, embellishing this story and without themselves their knowing an enormous institution of Church was born. Chance as a theme is again explored in Serendipities. I think the following passage best sums up the work

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

Amid all this consipiracy theories, he finds time to give some insight into Belbo's character, his inner feeling of inferiority and immersing in work to prove it/forget it, gives a picture of internally tortured man who is on the surface a socially compatible person. The character Mr.Garmond, the devious publisher who snares unsuspecting would be authors, agrees to publish their works and finally gets the money from the authors themselveswithout paying them is a lovable rogue. Nice satire on the publishing industry and the levels people some time go to get themselves published. 
Can't forget Agliè, who beyond his gentleman facade is as dangerous as they come. How one wishes we were as well informed as him with a seemingly inexhaustive list of information and details with him (Living forever across various centuries/great events seems to be a great thing, but is it really so?). And Eco keeps dropping information in page after page (Templars, Black Virgin, Alistar Crowley) without once boring the reader.

I remember reading the ending (if there is any) of this novel and having mixed feelings. Feeling cheated by the revelation about the mysterious message in French, at the same time aroused by the absurdity of the same which shakes our pre-conceived notions on thrillers. (Similar to the end of 'If on a winter's night a traveler'. Maybe it was just me who did not get understand it earlier. Anyway, that's a different one)Putting my thoughts in order while discussing Eco becomes a problem, since I get excited.  I read a phrase about Marquez"You come from his books with your mind on fire". I think the same thing can safely be said of 'Foucault's pendulum" and Umberto Eco. Need to write more about all his works.

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