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May 30, 2015

Several years ago, an English judge (“Good morning, Judge“) got himself into slightly hot water.

In fact it looks more like mild criticism from the Court of Appeal – when it was called upon to review his judgment in a certain high-profile case – but as lawyers will know, even the gentlest reproach when uttered in public by such bodies resounds like the thunders of Zeus*.

Made of sterner stuff, however, than to be daunted by the utterances of the Court of Appeal, that same judge went on to attract more severe censure of his conduct of a subsequent case; but I tell you that for information only: if you wish to discover more, you know where to look.

Our present purpose is with the earlier case, which  – just so you know what I am talking about – concerns the rather celebrated (at the time) allegation by the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (a work of journalistic research making blockbusting revelations that would rock the Christian world, only it didn’t), that Dan Brown infringed their copyright by his book The Da Vinci Code.

Not so much a Code as an Enigma. You can go elsewhere for a full account of the story which was going to bring down 2,000 years of Christianity: in a nutshell, it’s complicated; but it rests on the premise that Jesus did not die on the cross but married Mary Madgalene, and their bloodline is the line of the true European monarchs. (Now let’s pause to reflect on how holistic the simonsometimessays view of the world is: The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail owes something in the inception of its suppositional history to Et in Arcadia Ego – see our earlier works, m’lud.)


Supposing that nothing would come of it, the judge decided that he would indulge himself, and he created his own code in which particular letters scattered throughout the judgment spelt out a message that was utterly irrelevant to the case.

Of course this was ill-judged; certainly it gave the Court of Appeal the ammunition to imply that the time he had spent on that was at the expense of clarity in the judgment itself.

Moreover, it allows us to speculate, at least, that he might have been ridiculing the premise of the original book, which is possibly not an ideal attitude for a judge to have.

Especially an English judge, in an English courtroom, with a position to keep up.

The English judiciary must sustain its worldwide reputation of loftiness, severity, incorruptibility, and maybe even even pomposity, so that we believe them when they say – in the words of The Human League (or Judge Dredd, if you must):

I am the Law.

My own reaction (back to the story) when I read the Da Vinci Code, was “I’ve heard this before”, and it struck me as no less a quantity of bunkum at the second telling.

Each time, I happened to buy the book in question when there was something like outcry about it. And each time the fuss was raised by the Catholic Church, exhorting the faithful to ignore the book or speak against it where possible. The effect was of course quite the reverse: Catholics in their hordes bought the books without any apparent ill effects (this side of the grave, anyway) and non-Catholics who hadn’t heard of the books were suddenly alerted to them. You’d have thought that something would have been learnt from the experience of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, wouldn’t you? If you want grown up people to do something, all you have to do is tell them that they shouldn’t do it.

Since I have read both books, and regard them as being of equal merit (make of that what you will), I would quite understand if the judge was poking a little fun at either of them. However, I’m not a judge and I don’t have to worry that my impartiality would be questioned.

So, on with the story.

Almost 35 years since the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail was published, the world is unchanged by it. (It can’t have been helped by the publication of a sequel, rather devaluing its already suspect currency.)

Years after the original, the publication of The Da Vinci Code achieved equal failure in shaking the foundations of western civilisation. Even the making of a high-budget movie (with Tom Hanks, no less) does not seem to have made a difference.

(Spare a charitable thought, incidentally, for Margaret Starbird, who used the same basic premise for her 1993 book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar – which has somehow been forgotten along the way.)

Scarcely anything of consequence ever comes of things done solely to have an impact. The big ideas proposed by the authors of the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail were destined to make a splash but nothing more, because that is the only effect they were truly designed to have. Had they been of any weight or substance then a mechanism other than the mass-market paperback would have been chosen to promote them, and for a particular purpose. Big change happens for a purpose: if there’s no purpose, it’s just a big noise.

Accordingly, outside the courtroom, nothing of any significance emerged from the work, probably because there was nothing of any significance in it. And in the courtroom? Only some rather small points of law arising from allegations of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Hardly a ripple, save that the offended authors seemed to regenerate sales of their original book. Surprised?

Yet you shouldn’t be.

So we are led to wonder whether it was all an elaborate scheme, played out over three decades, with a disappointingly familiar motive. But I don’t really wonder that – it’s just another nonsensical theory to add to the pile.

Honestly: so many conspiracies, so little time. There are puzzles everywhere, staring you in the face. Everywhere.

In the end, It doesn’t matter any more.

Qtpfsgui 1.9.1 tonemapping parameters: Operator: Reinhard05 Parameters: Brightness: -10 Chromatic Adaptation: 0.5 Light Adaptation: 1 ------ PreGamma: 1

Qtpfsgui 1.9.1 tonemapping parameters:
Operator: Reinhard05
Brightness: -10
Chromatic Adaptation: 0.5
Light Adaptation: 1
PreGamma: 1

*I wanted to link here to something by Mama Zeus, but it would have interrupted the Silver Thread of the narrative.





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