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Posts Tagged ‘Templars’

It’s a day ending in ‘y’ in 2016, so of course another cultural figurehead has died: Umberto Eco is already no longer alive. My immediate thought was that the Templars must have had something to do with it, because – as readers of Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum know well – the Templars have something to do with everything. In this work, Eco not only invented Dan Brown and The X-Files, he offered simultaneously a diagnosis of their pathology, an understanding of the social and psychological forces that persuade people to believe in the existence of an all-powerful conspiracy – where the absence of evidence is simply evidence of the power and influence of the conspirators – as a form of ressentiment, explaining their own failures and frustrations, and as a source of meaning, because the alternative image of a chaotic, contingent world where no one has any control is much too frightening. If you believe in connections, you can always find them; and, while conventional historiography should innoculate itself against such fantasies through its critical approach, it’s fair to say that this is more a matter of degree than an absolute distinction. Historians need to read Eco – yes, I know the first 250 pages are heavy going – to see the shadow side of our practices. The truth is out there…

Oh, and I think the most appropriate thing to watch in tribute is not the film of The Name of the Rose, but the Community episode ‘Conspiracy Theory and Interior Design’, perfectly capturing Eco’s playfulness and ability to see creative potential in unexpected juxtapositions.

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