Nightmare Merchants

June 23, 20155 min read

As I was reading 'The Lost Symbol', I began to wonder if a symbol had been really lost, or if Dan Brown had lost himself in all the ancient scriptures and Masonic beliefs and practices. If Brown had really studied Masonic rites, symbols and their meanings, along with the Bible and the religious philosophies and writings, and if he had understood even a fraction of what these scriptures had tried to tell him, he would never have written this book.

Perhaps his motive would have been only to get a superficial view of the scriptures, so he could weave a story that could sell. He was not creating a literary work, but producing a very marketable commodity. He could have developed a great work of fiction around the ideas and all the information he has included in this book. He could have written a novel to make us think about our religions, our religious teachings, ancient scriptures and modern interpretations. He could have made us search for our own Word, Symbol or Truth, made us ascend or descend the stairway in search of it, or search within or without ourselves for God or the Word.

Unfortunately he laced his story with unimaginably cruel and violent thoughts and actions, to make it popular, to attract the sadomasochist readers, so he could sell copies of his book in millions, and then sell the film rights too. Many people would have read this book as it is "thrilling and entertaining" with the "most terrifying villain to date". Brown is called the "world's most popular thriller writer" by his publisher.

A 'thriller' is described as a work of literature, that uses suspense, tension and excitement as its main elements . As Steve Bennet says, a thriller "tend to be adrenalin-rushing, gritty, rousing and fast-paced". It does not mean that a thriller has to include so much violence and cruelty in it. An imaginative writer could bring in all the suspense and tension without violence.

Brown seems to be leaning towards what could be classified as 'Pornography of Violence'. (Life Into Arts, 24-09-2014). Brown has the skill, imagination and story telling ability to have written this novel without including any violence, or at least could have tried to do it with less violence. As it is, those who read this novel as a thriller, would skip all the valuable information that is given here about Freemasons, about the Bible, about Christianity and the scriptures and also about Washington and all the landmark buildings in the city. These readers also would skip the long descriptions and arguments about the interpretations and the hidden meanings of the scriptures.

The National Geographic, among other journals, also raised the issue of the accuracy of most of the information given by Brown in this book. On Sep. 15, 2009, Brian Handwerk pointed out 8 myths in the 'Lost Symbol', which include the statements by Brown about Washington street grid according to Masonic symbols, or that the Masons descend from Knights Templar.

Dan Brown also involves Noetic Science in the story, probably not understanding that by other names it was known in Asia for several thousand years. But the person who named this new western science as Noetic Science, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, had understood the concept to some extent, when he described his feelings as he was returning from the moon landing as a 'Samadhi' experience.

On the other hand, anyone who would try to read The Lost Symbol for all the information and ideas covered here, would probably skip all the violence in order to read the book, or throw it aside half-way to the end, and miss all the revelations and theories put forth by the author. If Handwerk is correct these readers would not be missing anything, but those who read the book with all the details would be accepting a lot of disinformation.

As a fiction writer, Brown has the right to use his poetic license to distort the truth and even give complete untruths. The Freemasons could find it offensive and the real people mentioned in the book, who are now dead, would not be able to defend themselves.

This is unfortunately what we find in most of the so-called thrillers and also in historical fiction written for the sole purpose of making money by hitting best seller lists. These writers, who are encouraged by their publishers, are not worried about the inaccuracies or false data they gave in their books, or about encouraging readers to enjoy violence. We find that in many historical films produced in our country in the recent past, attempting to rekindle communal, racial hatred, and justifying violence in the form of wars. A war hero is almost always the victor. If Hitler had won World War II, he would have been the hero, Hitler the Great, and could have won the Nobel for Literature instead of Churchill.

Prof. David Morrell wrote 'First Blood' to show the evils of war, how it affects the minds of soldiers in the 'killing fields', even after they return home. But with the instant popularity of the film Rambo, based on First Blood, he joined the bandwagon to sell nightmares instead of dreams, and that is why we should call people in the film industry who sell violence as Nightmare Merchants instead of Dream Merchants.

Our heroes should be those great human beings who have struggled hard, sacrificed their lives to prevent a war, or bring a war to an end without more killings. Our heroes should be those who made new discoveries or introduced new inventions that have benefitted mankind and all life on earth.We should write about them, even when we write 'thrillers'. The biographies we write should also be about them.

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