Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Mystery To Me

I have just read The City of Secrets by Patrice Chaplin. My attention got drawn to it by an article in the latest Fortean Times... which described some hoax pictures designed to discredit the main concept, which the author left out of the book. Either a sinister conspiracy to try to discredit her, or a rather good double bluff.

You'll find lovely little teasers for people who like Rennes-Le-Chateau and the Priory of Sion, you know:


Which either gives you an “Aha!” moment or a chance to say “whooo, scary…”

This seems perfect material for testing RAW’s tactics and strategies for assessing the amount of truth in a story, for attributing levels of probability, for evaluating what you hear and read. If you think that Rennes-Le-Chateau really does contain a mystery then this whole new angle on the story will truly excite you. Instead of revamping all the known material, the story moves to Spain (well, Girona in Catalunia) and includes Kabbalah, a secret ceremony which creates visions, a twin tower, a society which guards the secret, an ephemeral Grail, etc.

I enjoyed it as a read (but I like this sort of stuff) and it certainly reads better than Dan Brown’s cardboard cutout people, but (like Castaneda or The Celestine Prophecy) it takes advantage of the fact that it can show and conceal at the same time...

I leave it to you to decide whether something truly ancient lies behind all this, or whether we should think of it as group creativity and imagination.

City of Secrets site
Andrew Gough interviews Chaplin
Andrew Gough goes to explore
Perillos site

You might prefer some middle ground like Mizrach at Florida U

If you belong to the group who get dismissed (too easily) as mere skeptics, you may prefer to read deadpan deconstructions like Paul Smith’s Priory of Sion site, and maybe check out the discussion forum (although they often look more like a monologue from PS!)

I still lean to the ‘pataphysical connection (if that doesn’t sound like an oxymoron), myself...
Paul Smith on Cherisey
Perillos on the AARevue and Cherisey
...and found Rat Scabies and The Holy Grail far more amusing...

I have no idea whether Kabbalistic chanting can generate images others can see (or whether a magic lantern show on the mist works better). When such things get surrounded by “don’t try it, you might die if not properly prepared” I just say “OK!”

With phenomena like Alien Spacecraft and Ghosts you either have seen them or you haven’t. With this new genre (as with crop circles) one can see the possibilities for generating tourism (and look how well Lourdes did!) I’d feel astounded if Dan Brown didn’t get some kind of free flights out of tourist boards, but I don’t intend to imply that Patrice Chaplin works for the Girona tourist board...ahem.

I do find it interesting how people seem to think that ancient mysteries have real power, but modern ones don’t. Just as you can read about the occult obsession at the end of the 19th Century in Europe, and the New Age frenzy at the end of the 20th (as if Christian calendars contained real magic to divide the world into centuries in the first place) – I happen to have started on my thesis “Religious Fads, Fashions and Fallacies of the Ancient Egyptians”. That these attempts at exerting magical power over a totally indifferent universe continue to fascinate people amazes me, but then again, as a non-initiate I still haven’t witnessed anything that would incline me to believe in such powers, available to humans.

But I find consciousness a puzzle, and imagination a wonder, so I don’t deny that something interesting occurs when people work together...

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