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Notes by Alan Dix on "Foucault's Pendulum"

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Foucault's Pendulum


I am rather obsessive about both books and films, once I start to read or watch, no matter how boring or unpleasant, I hate stopping before the end. However, I am half way through "Foucault's Pendulum" and have all but decided to give it up as enough of my life wasted.

This is one of those books you always hear about, and I enjoyed Name of the Rose (some years ago now), so when I saw it on a friend's shelf I decided to read it.

The publisher's summary sounds quite enthralling and in the first few pages we have the protagonist hiding in a museum awaiting an undisclosed event that would happen in the night. This is soon followed (or rather preceded, this is a post modern novel read backwards) by rummages within a computer of the missing (presumed dead) protagonist's friend, and then a little later (many years earlier) the disappearance (presumed dead) of a mysterious Colonel with secret knowledge of the Knights Templar.

There follows 300 pages (and maybe more as that is as far as I have got) of witty repartie about real (as in wild esoteric ideas actually imagined by historic people) and imaginary (as in the author's made-up stories of imagined historic people's wild esoteric ideas). Sort of Mediaeval occult Goggle Box. I note that in the reviews of Name of the Rose on Goodreads, one person describes it as "In which I, as reader, feel used" - believe me, compared with Foucault's Pendulum, Name of the Rose is a real page turner.

The discussion of (real, really imagined, and creatively imagined) historic cults is written in a humorous aslant-viewed fashion through the eyes of somewhat cynical publishers who see the writers and readers of esoteric and occult conspiracies as a gullible source of profit. It is, like a morning of CBeebies, diverting, if not deep, albeit steeped in Italian, French, Egyptian and every other sort of historic fact (and fiction).

I guess the punch line will be when the esoteric comes back to haunt (or at least incrementally kill) the cynics, if one can be bothered to wait that long. One review said that the self-indulgent historic meanderings are like a trial for the faint hearted and that after 200 pages the plot starts. I wonder if the edition the reviewer read was more compact, with more words per page, as at page 320, the plot in my copy is still gossamer thin. Maybe it is like a path of diamonds buried beneath broken windscreen glass.

In some ways Foucault's Pendulum reminded me of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, except Tracatus is way less engaging than CBeebies (so Eco win's there), but on the other hand Wittgenstein had the excuse of writing while a prisoner of war, so he had some excuse for self-indulgence.



BASIC program, but line 130 is wrong.

120 NEXT I3

130 NEXT I4

140 NEXT I1

It turns out to be a typesetting error (thanks Mirco) as correct in the original Italian version


the credulous and the incredulous

"if two things don't fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connect them, that's credulity."


of cretins, fools, morons and the insane

"Morons never do the wrong thing. They get their reasoning wrong."

"Morons are tricky ... the moron reasons almost the way you do ..."

"Plenty of moron's books are published."


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